Recovery Roadblock: When “Help Me” is Too Hard to Say

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When was the last time you asked for help? What were the circumstances? Was it hard to ask? For most of us, raised in our individualistic American culture, it is difficult to ask for help in any situation. When it comes to chemical dependency and recovery, the challenge is ten-fold.

What’s the biggest thing holding us back? Fear. This emotional monster stops us in our tracks too many times. It attacks us from many angles, paralyzing us on the spot. When we’re struggling with substance abuse, it stops us from admitting we’re addicted…and stops us from reaching out for help.

Time to Face Our Fears

What exactly are we afraid of? When we wrestle with asking for help, it’s often because we struggle with the following fears:

  • Fear of Rejection: What if we ask for help, and they say no? The thought of summoning up the courage to ask and then be turned down overwhelms us. We don’t want to make ourselves that vulnerable. Or what if we ask for help, and it’s simply not available? Despite the many resources we’ve been told exist, we convince ourselves they aren’t for us – that we’ll be turned away. We simply don’t want to risk rejection.
  • Fear of Stigma: How will people view us if we admit we’re struggling with substance abuse and need help to get sober? Will we be labeled an addict? Will we be shunned? We fear this stigma will ruin our chances of a good life, a good job, and good relationships in the future.
  • Fear of Imperfection: At some level, we all know we’re not perfect. But we rarely want to admit that to others. Asking for help means having to admit we don’t have it all together. It puts our imperfection on a platter for all to see. Admitting we need others is extremely humbling, and we often don’t possess that level of humility.
  • Fear of Failure: What if we ask for help, but it doesn’t work? What if we put ourselves out there, allow others to come alongside us, do the work, then fail? We fear facing ourselves and those we asked to help us. We fear letting ourselves and others down. The problem with this line of thinking is that it ignores the definition of failure: lack of success. If we don’t get the help we need to have success, we’ve already failed.
  • Fear of Loss: We are scared of what might happen if people find out the truth. Will we lose our job? Lose our friendships? Family members? We fear putting too much strain on our relationships by both admitting our problem and asking our loved ones or employer for help. Wrapped up in our fear of loss, we ignore one important fact: We’re more likely to lose these relationships if we don’t get help.

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