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03 Nov Addiction Treatment Barriers for Men and Women

Addiction is a complicated disease and there are a lot of reasons why those who are suffering from it don’t seek help. Only about one in ten addicts receives treatment for their disease. Social stigma, financial struggles, and responsibilities at work and at home are all commonly cited reasons why addicts don’t get help, but the root of these barriers varies widely between men and women.

Common Barriers for Men

One of the main reasons that men say they don’t seek treatment for their addiction is that they don’t feel that they have a problem, or that they can overcome the problem on their own. Men feel that seeking treatment is a sign of weakness, or that continuing to use is not a big deal as long as they can keep working and supporting their family. They feel that they don’t have time to attend treatment because of work and family responsibilities. These barriers are the reasons why men tend to seek treatment much later in their disease, when they can no longer keep up with their life and have no choice but to stop and get better.

Common Barriers for Women

Women tend to seek treatment for their addiction earlier on in the disease than men do, but are often met with barriers when it comes time to check in and complete treatment. Some of the most common reasons women cite for not receiving addiction treatment include :

Being financially unable to pay for treatment
Feeling ashamed or embarrassed that they have an addiction.
Concern that their children will be taken away or not properly cared for if they enter treatment.
Not feeling able to complete treatment once it’s started because of family responsibilities. For instance, they feel that they need to get home to their kids.
Concerns about receiving needed aid for housing, food, and continued education during and after treatment.
Suffering from co-occurring disorders like depression or anxiety that keep them from seeking treatment.

Overcoming Barriers to Get Help

Both men and women who are delaying or avoiding addiction treatment for any of the reasons listed above need to understand that there is help available that will fit your unique situation. For those who are concerned about the welfare of your family while you’re in treatment, remember that you can’t properly care for or support your family until you’re healthy and functional.

Financial barriers and family dynamics (like childcare) can be overcome with the resources provided to you by the rehab center. The professionals in the addiction treatment program will be able to help you to overcome barriers and to have the resources you and your entire family need for healing.

Ally Keenan is a University of Utah graduate and currently works as a Clinical Social Worker and Substance Use Disorder Counselor. Ally started her career in 2009 working in adolescent residential treatment as an assistant program director. Since 2010, she has worked as a clinician with individuals suffering from addictions, chemical dependency, and co-occurring mental health disorders in both the Intensive Outpatient and Residential treatment capacities. Ally currently serves on the board as vice-president of the non-profit foundation Recovery Outreach; a 501(c)(3) organization created to help fund treatment for individuals suffering from addiction and lacking the financial resources to afford it. In 2010, she took the opportunity to incorporate her passion for animals, and their powerful healing nature, into her work through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). She truly enjoys facilitating Equine Psychotherapy, and life-skills sessions, as a form of experiential therapy.

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