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Waiting to Seek Help for Addiction: Why it’s Life or Death

Waiting to seek help for your addiction is literally a life or death situation; the longer you put it off, the higher your chances become of dying from an overdose. Also, you increase your chances of not following through with the treatment you’ve received. The longer you wait to seek drug addiction rehab, the more likely you are for problems to arise.

According to an article from, “More than 23 million Americans are struggling with some kind of substance addiction. Less than 10 percent of them are getting any kind of treatment for it.”

Why do people wait to seek help?

The article says that there may be many reasons that addicts put off their treatments, including waiting to hit their lowest point, trying to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal, and not wanting to be labeled.

  • Waiting to hit their lowest point — people who are addicted may try to wait until they hit “rock bottom” before seeking help. This is extremely dangerous; rock bottom is where job loss, destroyed relationships, jail, and death sit. Also, waiting can make an addict even sicker than they were.
  • Avoiding the symptoms of withdrawal — withdrawal symptoms are one of the main reasons why addicts go back to their substances after some time; these symptoms can be debilitating. “With time and chronic use, the only “pleasure” left in the drug experience will be the avoidance of that sickness,” says the article.

(Withdrawal symptoms may include: depression, anxiety, hallucinations, seizures, and more. The fear of these symptoms can keep addicts from seeking help.)

  • The fear of being labeled — people who need to seek treatment don’t want to be labeled as an “addict.” Although the stereotype of an addict may not fit them, they may begin to see themselves as it.

Since every day, over a 100 people die in the United States from drug overdoses, we as a society must encourage people who are suffering from addiction to seek help, regardless of the potential reasons not to.

What are the dangers of waiting?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the death rate from drug overdoses has increased by 137% since 2000, and this includes a 200% increase in overdoses from opioids.

Since the drug epidemic in our society is rapidly increasing, the negative outcomes of waiting to get treated must become known. The more likely you are on drugs, the more likely you are to experience certain dangers that can be life-threatening. Some of these major dangers include…

  • Dulling of the gag reflex — the gag reflex prevents choking, but if its ability is weakened, more people are likely to choke. This is why many drug abusers die from suffocation.
  • Depressed central nervous system — “This can have the effect of making the body forget to breathe, the most significant risk of opiate and opioid overdose,” says the article.
  • Body damage — the longer you put off treatment, the more likely you are to develop certain types of cancer such as liver, stomach, or pancreatic, heart disease, high blood pressure, or sexual dysfunction.
  • Brain damage — many things can occur to the brain from long-term drug use, including deteriorating white matter. This helps you to respond to stress, regulate behavior, and other daily activities.

“Studies show that people who are coerced into treatment, whether by family or the legal system,” says the article, “have an equal chance of doing well as do those who make the choice of being there on their own.” If you are worried about a loved one, encourage them to get treated.

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