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3 Barriers to Substance Abuse Treatment and What You Can Do

Like any other illness, addiction requires treatment. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to care. For people with addictions, a lot of barriers can stand between themselves and recovery. Some of those barriers, like financial struggles, are common with any illness. Others, like social stigma, are more specific to addiction. 

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these barriers. For instance, free rehab centers can provide care for people with financial difficulties. While we still have a long way to go in terms of access to care, these solutions can make a difference. 

Below, you’ll find some of the most common barriers to substance abuse treatment, along with some solutions. 

1. Cost of Care 

The cost of rehab is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t get the addiction treatment they need. Inpatient rehabs, where people may stay for 90 days, can cost thousands of dollars. The cost may depend on a number of factors, including levels of care and amenities offered. For people who may have financial issues because of their addiction, the high cost may put them in a devastating catch-22 situation. 

Fortunately, solutions do exist. Different rehab financing strategies can help people access care. If you’re looking for rehab, either for yourself or a loved one, and you’re overwhelmed by the cost, these options may help: 

  • Free Rehabs – Some rehab centers provide care for free. These are usually state-funded outpatient centers. 
  • Insurance Coverage – If you have insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), then your insurance provider is required to provide coverage for mental health services, including addiction treatment. 
  • Communication – Some rehab centers work closely with insurance companies. They may communicate with insurance providers on behalf of their patients, explaining why certain treatments are necessary. This can be helpful if you need 90 days of rehab, but your insurance provider only covers up to 30 days. 
  • Outpatient Treatment – Outpatient care often costs much less than inpatient care, even when not publicly funded. 
  • Sliding Scale – Some rehab centers offer treatment on a sliding scale, which means that they adjust their fees based on income. 

2. Stigma about Substance Abuse Treatment

Not everybody understands that addiction is an illness. In fact, even some people who have an addiction may not realize that they have a treatable disorder. Attitudes toward addiction are improving, but society still has a long way to go. In the meantime, people with addiction may avoid treatment because they feel a need to hide their illness. 

This barrier can be complex. After all, you can’t change how everybody sees addiction. You can, however, change how you see it. When you understand that addiction is an illness, you can release some of the shame that comes from having it. This process can take a long time, but even starting this process can make a big difference. 

Also, know that rehab, group therapy, and support groups will put you in contact with other people who also have addictions. Addiction-related shame can get especially hard if you’re the only person you know who has this illness. When you have a community of people who also deal with addiction, you’ll know that you’re not alone. 

3. Location and Transportation 

Location can also become a barrier to addiction treatment. People in rural areas may not have any rehab centers in their area, and they may not have available transportation to the nearest facility. For others, rehabs may be available, but the closest ones may have long waitlists. 

In both of these scenarios, you have two options. First, some rehab centers may provide transportation to their facilities. If you can’t find a rehab center that offers transportation, or if you have to put yourself on a waitlist, you can look into the following options while you wait: 

  • 12-step groups and similar support groups. If you can’t find one in your area, some are available online. 
  • Individual counseling.
  • Asking a doctor about medication to reduce cravings. While this option may not be available for all types of addiction, some medications can help with alcohol and opioid addiction withdrawal. 
  • Telehealth appointments.
  • Harm reduction programs.

Getting Help for Addiction 

Getting addiction help can be challenging, but it’s the first step to recovery. If you think you have an addiction, talk to a doctor or look for resources in your area. Free rehabs, support groups, and other resources can provide options when other choices seem out of reach. 

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