Why do people refuse help for their addictions?

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Most often, individuals who go through addictions do not admit that they have an addiction, and neither do they seek help. This rather odd behaviour can baffle those close to such individuals. So why do “addicts” do this? Why do they refuse service that is clearly meant to push them out of an unfavourable situation? We capture the various reasons for their actions and inactions in this article.

Before we jump into it, if you or anyone close to you is struggling with an addiction, you can call us at 0203 955 7700 for immediate assistance. We at help4addiction use evidence-based treatment methods to help our patients achieve life-long recovery.

What is addiction?

Addiction is generally the strong impulse to have or do something irrespective of the cost at which it comes AT: in this case, we are looking at drugs or substances. Drug addiction is a chronic physiological and psychological dependence on a substance. The brain compels an individual to take certain drugs or abuse substances irrespective of how dangerous it is to the body. Most people are not aware that they are addicted to drugs or alcohol until they are being told. This is because the brain accepts these substances as a safe space.

Substances that individuals with addictions abuse usually feel like a safe haven having euphoric effects on them. This prevents them from seeing it for what it is or admitting how much damage it does to them. This puts them in a cycle of making excuses or denying how much damage the addiction is causing in their lives.

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Excuses Addicts Make

Addicts make different excuses to justify their actions. The excuses they make usually keep them in the cycle of addiction. This prevents them from taking decisions and making conscious efforts to break the addictive cycle. Some of the excuses addicts typically make include:

I Don’t Need Help

Most addicts typically live in a state of denial. They make themselves believe they are living their best lives and compare their situations with those who are worse off. This makes them think they are doing well and are actually thriving for individuals going through what they are going through. “At least I am better than” is a statement that you would not find too scarce on the lips of an addict. As long as an addict keeps denying that they have a problem or keeps denying the severity of the situation, they would be unable to seek help or make progress regarding their addiction.

The Substances Are My Safe Space

Some people take in substances to escape life situations or abuse. They consider these drugs as a safe space away from the harsh realities of life. They get drowned in momentary bliss and do not want to take it away. Two of the everyday situations are grief and heartbreak. Losing a loved one or getting broken-hearted is a very harsh reality but, unfortunately, is inevitable most of the time. But that does mean we should drown ourselves in alcohol to numb the pain.

I Need It To Get Work Done

ust like how others take drugs to escape pain, some take it to get work done. Some workers or students take in substances to enable them to get the job done as quickly as possible whilst meeting deadlines from their bosses, whilst some take them to stay up all night. As harmful and efficient as it sounds, they rely on these substances more and more, resulting in an addiction. Since it is helping them stay productive, such individuals would not see the need to get help. This can go a long way to result in extreme fatigue and exhaustion, leading to death or breakdown of the body.

I’m scared people will find out

Some people are embarrassed to be seen or known for going to rehab. They fear people will criticise and judge them, so they refuse to seek help and stay in their condition. Many people would rather have people think they are fine and remain unhealthy than be healthy and believe something is wrong with them. This is also another excuse that keeps people away. Some also simply say it, so individuals will stop pushing them to get help.

Note: We at Help4addiction recognise that contemplating addiction treatment is hard. So if you or anyone close to you is struggling with an addiction, please feel free to call us on 0203 955 7700 for immediate assistance. We use evidence-based treatment methods to help our patients achieve life-long recovery.

I cannot afford treatment

Most often, individuals with addictions are genuinely unable to afford the cost of care because they might have spent all their financial resources fueling the addiction or gone out of work due to the addictions disrupting their working routine. Such individuals usually convince themselves that they are not refusing to get help but simply unable to. However, rehab centres will help such individuals or raise funds from family or even strangers. The excuse usually sounds logical enough that they accept it and refuse to get help.

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Taking substances is the new normal

Abusing substances may have been normalised by some, but that does not in any way make it normal. On the contrary, some addicts find solace in the fact that almost everyone is doing it and use it as an excuse for their actions.

I am scared of rehab

Most people are scared of going to rehab due to rumours they might have heard and depictions they might have seen in movies or on social media about rehab centres. But, unfortunately, these exaggerations have a way of getting to individuals who have to use rehab centres. And, some will make an excuse to get out of seeking help simply.

I might commit suicide there

Some are firmly convinced that seeking help with regard to their addictions would lead to them committing suicide. Such individuals will refuse treatment because they fear for their lives and do not trust themselves to survive under such circumstances. Although these fears might never materialise if they sought help, they are so convinced about it that they never seek help.

I am in control

This is probably one of the most deceptive of all these excuses. The false sense of control when it comes to addiction is one of the reasons why individuals remain in it. Many individuals who struggle with an addiction will still insist that they are okay and that there is no need to worry about them. This keeps them trapped in the addiction.

How To Handle Excuses From Addicts

It is easier to attack someone struggling with addiction and accuse them of not doing their best to get out of the situation. You might feel right and justified in doing that. However, it only worsens the situation. These are some ways we would recommend you handled such a situation.

Develop Good Communication: Having healthy and frequent conversations with someone going through an addiction is the first step to helping them fix the situation. Listen to them, make them feel safe enough to t talk to you and let you in on what they are going through. Whenever they try to have a conversation with you, do well to show interest in what they have to say and be positive so you can build trust over time. This will be the first natural step to helping them.

Avoid Being Judgemental: Making them feel bad about themselves will only push them away. Try as much as possible to understand what they are going through to make suggestions and recommendations based on what they have shared with you. Being judgemental and rebuking them will only achieve the opposite of what you want with them. Always do your best to make them feel welcomed and comfortable.

Do not force treatment on them: I know that most of the time, out of love and frustration, we might want to impose treatment on our loved ones, but that would not help especially if they are older. They might end up running away, and you will end up losing them instead of helping them. So suggest it to them, educate them about it, they will eventually agree.


Addiction is generally the strong impulse to have or do something irrespective of the cost at which it comes AT: in this case, we are looking at drugs or substances. Dealing with someone making excuses was never an exciting experience, and if you are the one with the addiction, you know it doesn’t feel pleasant to constantly make excuses for your actions because the truth is that you know you need help deep down. 

Contemplating treatment is hard, and the first step is always the scary and uncomfortable part but thinks of the long term benefits. We know it can sometimes seem like a long road that may never end, but hey, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. So take that step today, seek help. If you are unsure what to do, you can call on 0203 955 7700 for assistance.

Frequently asked questions

Most addicts refuse treatment due to the earlier stated reasons. So just be patient with them and find out why not with violence and shout because that will not help.
An enabler is someone who knowingly or unknowingly encourages the addict to keep up his addiction. It is typically more of enablement than it is an encouragement. They try to protect the addict from everything, including the consequences of their actions which enables the addictive behaviour they have.
No, treat them equally and fairly. Make them feel at home and comfortable like everyone else. Always avoid violence with them.

Meta description

Drug addiction is a chronic physiological and psychological dependence on a substance. The brain compels an individual to take certain drugs or abuse substances irrespective of how dangerous it is to the body. Addicts will make excuses to get out of receiving help that is much needed. It is essential that they are encouraged to fix the situation and that people around them do not serve as enablers of the actions of addicts.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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