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Most people delay treatment longer than necessary. Sometimes the main reason they delay treatment is simply because they do not want to ask for help. They feel ashamed or embarrassed. They are afraid the wrong person will find out.
It is natural to feel uncomfortable taking your first steps toward recovery. When we abuse alcohol or drugs, we spend a lot of energy trying to disguise and hide our addiction. We keep a lot of secrets. Breaking that tradition of secrecy can make us anxious and panicky.
"I remember the day I called the employee assistance program. I knew I was in trouble. I wanted to talk to somebody. I did not want to admit it was about alcohol, but something in me – I like to think of it as a survivor instinct – pushed me to say it immediately in the phone call: I think I have a problem with alcohol. The cat was out of the bag! I felt relief, which was quickly followed by regret. I now knew they would ask me about it in my first session. Oh boy. What if I still wanted to drink? I knew alcoholics couldn’t drink. But the relief part was great – now I couldn’t hide it. I had taken the first and most important step. I was on the road to recovery." – DA, recovering alcoholic
Asking for help isn’t easy, but it’s critical to getting on the path to recovery. There is a saying in AA – you are only as sick as your secrets.
If you have extreme anxiety about "letting the cat out of the bag" remember this: it’s probably not as big a secret as you think. If you abuse alcohol, people will figure it out. Your behavior and your health will certainly give you away at some point.
Some initial ways to ask for help are:
Call Alcoholics Anonymous and talk to someone in recovery
Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeeting (it’s ANONYMOUS and you don’t have to introduce yourself if you don’t want to)
Call your employee assistance program and make an appointment
Find a therapist who specializes in addiction and recovery
If you know someone in recovery, ask them if you can talk to them privately
Call a treatment center that specializes in alcohol rehabilitation and talk to a counselor