Updated on December 5, 2023
11 min read

Do I Need to Go to Rehab? Identifying Need and Taking Action

10 Signs You Need To Go To Rehab

Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to escape challenges or stress. However, frequently using or abusing substances can lead to dependence or addiction.

Rehab facilities offer treatment programs for detoxification and recovery. Medical specialists oversee most treatment programs so that you can get proper medical support and guidance.

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However, addiction can cloud your judgment and decision-making skills, which makes it difficult to determine if you need rehab. Fortunately, there are a few telltale ways of knowing if you need rehab; including:

1. Self-Medication

Some people might use drugs or alcohol to help manage a mental health condition, this is called self-medication. This can be very dangerous and lead to a high tolerance, overdose, or death.

2. Withdrawal Symptoms

If you've been abusing alcohol or drugs for long periods, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and can make quitting hard or cause a relapse. In some cases, they can be painful or fatal.

Addiction withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Sudden mood changes & irritability
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Aches and pains
  • Intense craving for drugs or alcohol
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Seizures

3. Developing a Tolerance

Initially, using substances can lead to powerful effects with small doses because your body isn't accustomed to them. However, the effects become less powerful when you start abusing drugs more consistently and frequently.

A higher tolerance can lead you to use more drugs or drink more alcohol to experience the desired effects. This can increase the risk of addiction, dependency, and overdose.

4. Health Problems Due to Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can lead to long-term physical and mental health problems. Consider seeking treatment if you're experiencing:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Heart conditions or strokes
  • Collapsed veins and blood vessels from intravenous drug use
  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Kidney and liver problems
  • Seizures and brain damage
  • Lung disease
  • Memory, learning, and decision-making problems
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain

5. Prioritizing Your Addiction Over Responsibilities

Becoming addicted to something can lead you to ignore or disregard your responsibilities. Often times you'll prioritize drinking or taking drugs.

This can lead to:

  • Poor work performance
  • Ignoring your loved ones
  • Neglecting familial responsibilities
  • Neglecting pets

6. Spending All Your Time on Drugs or Alcohol

You may have a problem if you're always preoccupied with using drugs or alcohol. When this happens, you may develop a lack of interest or motivation for:

  • Working
  • Going to school
  • Your hobbies
  • Spending time with family and friends

7. Getting in Trouble with the Law

Having an addiction or a substance use disorder can lead to legal problems. Some examples include:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Stealing money for drugs
  • Stealing drugs or alcohol
  • Becoming violent while inebriated
  • Vandalism or destruction of property
  • Domestic or sexual abuse

8. Financial Problems

You can experience financial problems when you abuse drugs or alcohol. You can quickly find yourself running out of money due to cravings, dependency, or to manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. You may even end up causing financial problems for your loved ones to fund your addiction.

9. It's Hard to Quit

When you become addicted to a substance, you may find it hard to stop using it. You might need rehab if you've tried to quit but failed.

Addiction is a vicious cycle that leads to periods of sobriety and relapse. Rehab can provide treatment programs to offer the skills, techniques, and guidance to stop using drugs or alcohol successfully.

10. You've Lost Control

Addiction can make it impossible to manage your obligations and responsibilities. You'll often feel like your life is spiraling out of control.

Aside from social, legal, and financial problems, addiction can lead to poor self-care. Other problems caused by addiction include:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Deteriorating health
  • Social isolation
  • Heavy drug use or binge drinking
  • Co-occurring mental health issues

When to Get Treatment

Determining when to go to rehab can be confusing. The right time for rehab can vary from person to person. Chances are, if you or a loved one have considered treatment, that's a signal addiction is causing problems in your life.

Signs that it's time to seek treatment include:

  • Meeting three or more of the DSM criteria for addiction
  • Constant health problems
  • Money troubles
  • Family or friends expressing concern
  • Legal problems
  • Becoming a danger to yourself and others

You don't need to "hit rock bottom" before getting accepted into rehab. Although certain programs require you to meet requirements to be eligible for care, there are no factors that qualify or eliminate you from admission.

Anyone who believes they have an addiction can seek treatment. What that treatment entails is determined by an intake evaluation.

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Common Reasons People Don’t Want to Go to Rehab

Going to rehab isn't easy; for some, it might not even be a priority. There are many reasons and excuses why people don't want to go to rehab for drug or alcohol use. Some are even tied to myths and misconceptions.

Some of these reasons include:

Fear of Detox and Treatment

There are many stereotypes and misconceptions regarding addiction treatment and detox. You might be scared of getting help because of painful withdrawal symptoms. You might even be scared of not being able to find a good doctor or treatment program.

Fortunately, this isn't the case. When you go through a medical detox, the rehab facility will provide 24/7 supervision, care, and support.

Although this doesn't eliminate discomfort from withdrawal symptoms, it can be more comfortable or manageable. As for finding a doctor or rehab facility, there are various treatment options that can cater to your needs.

Denial

You may believe you don't need rehab because you can still manage your responsibilities and obligations. You may also think you can manage your substance abuse on your own.

However, this is not the case. Quitting drug or alcohol use can be extremely difficult. You can face issues like withdrawal symptoms or intense cravings.

Going to rehab can help you successfully recover from addiction with a combination of medication and therapy. Treatment also helps you identify any underlying condition that causes the addiction.

Affordability

The cost of drug and alcohol rehab is a common concern for many people. However, addiction treatment may be more affordable than you think.

Most insurances have a behavioral health component that may fully or partially pay for treatment. Many insurance plans consider medical detox a necessity and should be covered.

Free addiction treatment programs and resources are also available for people with low or unstable incomes. Talk to your insurance provider about your coverage, or talk to a healthcare professional for affordable treatment in your area.

Time

The thought of taking time away from work, school, or family can be overwhelming. Going into rehab can be a life-changing decision, and you might not want to drastically change your lifestyle for it.

Unfortunately, not going into rehab can negatively affect your life. You may be unable to work, provide for your family, or study properly.

On the bright side, there are ways to get treatment without it taking all of your time. There are treatment options that allow you to return home to live a normal life while getting treatment; these include:

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Addiction Treatment Options

Several options exist for alcohol rehab and drug rehab. For example:

What to Expect from Rehab

Going to rehab can be overwhelming. It is normal to feel nervous or scared. It helps to come in ready, equipped with the proper knowledge of what to expect from rehab.

Here are some helpful tips that may help ease rehab-related anxiety:

Assessment

When a person first enters rehab, they are given a thorough assessment of their background, history of alcohol and drug use, and other specific needs. During this stage, it helps to be honest, especially if there is an underlying mental illness or other condition. A customized substance abuse treatment plan will be created to suit the patient's needs.

Detox

The patient will undergo detoxification as soon as the initial assessment phase is done. This is removing alcohol or drugs from the body. It cleanses the body and mentally prepares the patient for rehab. The side effects and withdrawal symptoms during detox vary from person to person.

Withdrawal

During the rehab program, the patient may experience withdrawal symptoms. Rehab staff are trained to help patients cope with the symptoms safely and efficiently.

Methods used may include:

  • Medication
  • Counseling
  • Therapy
  • Meditation

Therapy Programs

The patient is expected to participate in the treatment program planned by the rehab center. Every rehab center has its own programs, including individual therapy, family counseling, and many more. 

Aftercare

Addiction is a chronic disease, so there is no overnight treatment. Drug and alcohol rehab usually lasts 30, 60, or 90 days. By the end of rehab, an aftercare plan is discussed with the patient for continuing care.

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DSM Criteria for Addiction

Not everyone has the self-awareness to go to rehab voluntarily. This is why it's important to identify the signs of addiction.

The American Psychiatric Association has outlined criteria for addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Health professionals use this to identify and categorize the severity of a substance use disorder.

The 5th edition, or DSM-5, has 11 criteria for addiction. These include:

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you're meant to
  • Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from using substances
  • Cravings and urges to use the substance
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use
  • Continuing to use it, even when it causes problems in relationships
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use
  • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger
  • Continuing to use it despite negative physical and mental side effects
  • Having a high tolerance and needing more of the substance to get the effect you want
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance

How to Determine the Severity of Substance Use

The DSM-5-TR can help healthcare professionals determine the severity of substance use depending on how many symptoms are identified. These are defined as:

  • Mild: Two or three symptoms indicate a mild substance use disorder
  • Moderate: Four or five symptoms indicate a moderate substance use disorder
  • Severe: Six or more symptoms indicate a severe substance use disorder

Rehab FAQs

How does detox help overcome addiction?

Detoxification is normally the first step in addiction treatment. It describes the process of clearing a substance from the body and becoming sober.

Most detox regimens require hours or days, but there might be lingering effects after a week or more.

Can I go to rehab without insurance?

Yes. However, you’ll need to seek subsidized support for treatment. This is usually available through your state’s Medicaid program.

Depending on your circumstances and location, there might be other financial support available as well.

Should you hold an intervention?

It’s impossible to know for sure whether an intervention is a good idea without knowing the specific details of a situation.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, an intervention could be necessary. However, interventions are difficult for everyone involved, and everyone must agree that intervening is the right thing to do for the person before moving forward.

How can family members assist in a loved one's recovery?

There are many ways for family and friends to help an addict. Being informed about addiction, recovery, and related medical issues are all important things that will help your loved one.

If you care about someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, learn about addiction, co-occurring conditions, and the various treatment options available.

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Updated on December 5, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on December 5, 2023
  1. What Is Drug Addiction Treatment?” National Institute on Drug Abuse

  2. Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018.

  3. Boroumandfar et al. "Ups and downs of drug rehab among women: a qualitative study." BMC Women's Health, 2020.

  4. "Chapter 5—Specialized Substance Abuse Treatment Programs." A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US), 1997.

  5. NADK. "What are the diagnostic criteria for alcohol-related mental health disorders?" National Alcohol & Drug Knowledgebase, The National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction.

  6. Hasin et al. "DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorders: recommendations and rationale." Am J Psychiatry, 2013.

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