Procrastination in Starting Alcohol Abuse Recovery

Some people find themselves procrastinating when it comes to recovery from alcohol addiction, but holding off on beginning your journey towards sobriety only makes the addiction worse. While there are several reasons for procrastination, there are also ways to overcome it and begin your journey toward sobriety.

Most people are guilty of procrastinating from time-to-time. Whether it’s avoiding a tedious report at work or putting off cleaning the house, sometimes procrastination seems preferable to completing an unpleasant task.

Unfortunately, some people may find themselves procrastinating when beginning recovery for alcoholism. They may tell themselves they will stop drinking next week, or after the holidays, or after things get less stressful at work, but the reality is that procrastinating can make alcohol addiction even worse. While there are several reasons for procrastination, there are also ways to overcome it and begin your journey toward sobriety.

Fear and Procrastination in Beginning Recovery

Starting the journey toward recovery from alcoholism can be difficult, and fear is one reason that people may procrastinate during this process. According to a 2012 study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, people may fear that seeking treatment means they have failed. They may also be fearful of disappointing loved ones or having people find out about their addiction (1). Entering into treatment means accepting that you have a problem with alcohol, and some people simply may not be ready to acknowledge the problem or let others know there is a problem.

Experts agree that fear is a reason for procrastination with beginning recovery. The author of a 2015 report in The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine has explained that fear is one of the main challenges that people with addictions face. For instance, people may fear that they are simply not capable of recovering from alcoholism, or they may believe that they cannot live without alcohol in their lives (2). When people feel this way, they may procrastinate starting treatment, because it is something they come to dread.

Reluctance to Give up Alcohol

People who procrastinate starting recovery may believe that they cannot live without alcohol, and some may procrastinate simply because they are not ready to give up drinking yet. They may feel that life will not be fun without alcohol, or they may be worried about disappointing friends or loved ones who still drink. In some cases, people may be worried they will lose friendships if they enter recovery and leave old drinking buddies behind. Furthermore, some people may glamorize their alcohol abuse and view it as fun and rewarding rather than seeing it as a problem. If this is the case, they may hesitate to start recovery.

Concerns about the Recovery Process

In addition to giving up old friendships, some people may procrastinate with starting recovery because they have concerns about the treatment process itself. For instance, they may be worried about giving up their jobs or taking time off from work to attend treatment. In addition, they may feel that they will have to take too much time away from their families or their children in order to enter into a program of recovery. Others may procrastinate beginning treatment because they are worried about the cost.

Readiness to Change

Beyond the numerous other reasons that people may procrastinate beginning addiction treatment is the fact that some people simply are not ready to change. As experts writing for The American Journal of Addictions have explained, making changes requires effort and motivation, and studies show that motivation is necessary for people to engage in treatment and achieve recovery from addiction (3).

It may be that some people are not ready to change because they perceive that they do not have a reason to give up drinking. Perhaps they are still functioning well at work, or maybe they feel that the consequences of drinking do not outweigh the benefits they get from it, such as social interaction. In this case, motivation to enter recovery may be lacking.

Overcoming Procrastination in Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse and find that procrastination is a challenge, there are ways to overcome this and successfully begin the recovery process. You may begin by making a list of the reasons to give up drinking and enter into treatment. For instance, any of the following may be reasons to begin recovery:

  • To become a better parent
  • To become healthier
  • To avoid legal consequences
  • To perform better at work or avoid losing a job
  • To feel better
  • To avoid fights with a spouse/partner

Whatever the reasons for giving up drinking might be, listing them can be a motivation to begin recovery. Once you take the time to think about the consequences of drinking and the reasons for recovery, you may begin to overcome some of your hesitations to begin treatment.

If you are worried about the time it takes to complete treatment or the amount of money it will cost, it may be helpful to know that there are affordable treatment options that allow you to continue to work and be there for your family. For example, you may simply begin by attending self-help groups in the evenings after work. There are also outpatient treatment options, meaning that you can continue to live at home and go to work, instead of staying in an inpatient facility while you recover. You can also use remote alcohol monitoring services like BACtrack View that allow you to discreetly take breathalyzer tests and provide BAC results in real-time to loved ones to build trust and accountability.

Should you require more intensive treatment, such as inpatient withdrawal management or residential treatment services, you may be relieved to learn that you may be able to take time away for treatment without losing your job. For example, according to the United States Department of Labor, you can take leave from work for substance abuse treatment under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as long as your condition meets the criteria of a serious health condition. While you cannot lose your job simply for exercising your right to use FMLA leave, it is important that you remember that you could face disciplinary action at work if you violate a policy related to substance abuse (4), such as showing up to work under the influence of alcohol.

Knowing that there are ways to keep your job while entering recovery may ease some of the fears you have about beginning addiction treatment. If you still find yourself procrastinating in beginning recovery, it may be helpful to evaluate reasons to quit drinking or to talk to a trusted friend or family member who can hold you accountable to begin treatment. Ultimately, setting your fears aside and putting an end to procrastination will benefit you in the end, as you achieve a life free from the grips of alcohol addiction.

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