Often, fear can cause people to delay seeking rehab, but the risk of long-term problems grows as you continue to put off recovery.  

Even when you acknowledge you have a problem with addiction, you may want to delay entering recovery. You know you need treatment but tell yourself that now isn’t the time. Ultimately, delaying treatment is quite damaging and can cause irreversible harm.

7 Reasons People Delay Addiction Treatment 

There are many reasons people may try to delay entering an addiction treatment program.

Waiting for a Special Event

Sometimes, people may delay treatment because they want to enjoy a special event, such as a birthday, wedding or holiday celebration. You may worry that if you cannot use drugs or alcohol, you won’t be able to enjoy the special event fully. In reality, attending an event while sober is likely more peaceful than attending while under the influence or grappling with the effects of addiction. 

More importantly, your loved ones may be concerned about your addiction and could be happy you’re getting professional help, even if it means missing their event. 

Concern About Children 

If you have children, you may try putting off treatment because you’re worried about what will happen to your children if you go to rehab. Fortunately, you can make a plan to have a relative or friend care for your children while you’re away. You can tell your child’s doctor and school who will be caring for your child to ensure things go smoothly. 

You can also consider an outpatient program that allows you to schedule appointments during the day when children are at school or daycare. Whatever your choice in care, children benefit from having parents get the help they need. 

Fear of Withdrawal 

Fear of withdrawal is another reason that people may put off treatment. Withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can be uncomfortable, and you may be using substances to avoid withdrawal. Medical detox can help you manage your withdrawal through medication and medical support to help you get through withdrawal as safely and comfortably as possible. 

Job Duties

Job duties can also deter someone from entering treatment. You may be worried about taking time off or losing your job if you seek rehab. Fortunately, many people can use FMLA leave to take up to 12 weeks off from work for rehab and keep their jobs. As long as you qualify, you can work with your supervisor and Human Resources to plan protected time off.  


Cost is often a concern before starting rehab. The good news is that many insurance companies cover some or even all rehab costs, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses. If you do not have insurance or your plan doesn’t cover behavioral health services, you can often still pay out-of-pocket on a payment plan that works for you. Some outpatient clinics offer income-based payment plans, so your out-of-pocket expenses will be adjusted to account for your income. 

Our Recovery Advocates can verify your insurance coverage over the phone or online and refer you to in-network partner facilities just in case we don’t take your insurance. 

Potential Loss of Friendship

When you enter treatment, you’ll likely have to distance yourself from friends still in active addiction. This may deter some people from entering recovery because they don’t want to lose friendships. 

However, when you begin treatment, you’ll be surrounded by the recovery community and develop connections with others committed to living a substance-free life. You may also find more friends and family members that actually support your decision to recover. 

Waiting for the Perfect Time

Finally, you may be putting off treatment because you’re waiting for “the perfect time.” You may be promising yourself that you’ll begin recovery when your kids start school or when your substance use starts affecting your health. 

Waiting for the perfect time to start treatment simply continues the cycle of addiction. There will never be an ideal time to enter recovery, but the sooner you begin, the less likely you are to develop severe consequences from addiction. 

Immediate Impacts of Addiction

If you’re putting off beginning treatment, consider some of the immediate negative consequences of addiction. As long as you’re avoiding recovery and staying in active addiction, you’re placing yourself at risk of:

  • Legal problems arising from drug and alcohol-related arrests
  • Relationship conflict stemming from addiction
  • Financial strain from the costs associated with obtaining drugs and/or alcohol
  • Risk of overdose, which can be fatal
  • Accidents and injuries arising from driving under the influence

Lasting Impacts of Addiction

Beyond the immediate effects of addiction, long-term consequences can arise from drug and alcohol misuse. The risk of irreversible, long-term problems grows as you continue to put off recovery. 

Some lasting health problems associated with untreated addiction include:

  • Heart disease, including infection of the heart valves 
  • Stroke 
  • Damage to the nervous system 
  • Several types of cancer (i.e., from smoking)
  • Increased risk of serious infections like HIV and Hepatitis C from needle sharing
  • Dental problems
  • Lung disease
  • Increased risk of mental health disorders like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia 

Choosing Your Recovery Over Everything Else

You may be hesitant to begin treatment, but prioritizing your health and wellness should supersede reasons to delay recovery. Giving up friendships with those still in active addiction or taking some time away from work is worth the sacrifice if it means that drugs and/or alcohol no longer control your life. If you wait to enter treatment, the long-term consequences of addiction will likely mean you cannot enjoy special events, friendships, work or time with your children anyway. 

“If you think you need help, you probably do. If you think that you don’t have the time or have too many obligations, guess what? Nothing is as important as getting the help that you need to have a brighter future. All those obligations are meaningless if you can’t cope with everyday life.”
— Dylan Zabriskie, The Recovery Village Ridgefield Alumni & Recovery Ambassador

Start a New Life at The Recovery Village

If you’re ready to recover from drug or alcohol addiction, The Recovery Village is here to help. We offer comprehensive, physician-led addiction treatment services in multiple locations across the country. While in one of our rehab programs, you can make a fresh start:

  • New environment: remove yourself from stressors and triggers while living onsite at our facility.
  • New perspective: we treat addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions, educating you on how these conditions interact and addressing them together.
  • New tools: gain the strategies and resources you need to avoid relapse
  • New friendships: know you’re not alone and have people to lean on in group therapy.

It’s time to get your life back. Same-day admission is available at The Recovery Village treatment centers nationwide. Our facilities offer high-quality, evidence-based addiction treatment that can help you start your long-lasting recovery.

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

World Health Organization. “Withdrawal Management.” 2009. Accessed July 20, 2023.

U.S. Department of Labor. “Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor.” Accessed July 20, 2023.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What are the other health consequences of drug addiction?” July 2020. Accessed July 20, 2023.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.