Obstacles to Getting Help for Drug and Alcohol Problems
Well over half of all American preteens, teens and adults drink or use illicit drugs. Most of these people do not have a diagnosable substance problem. However, tens of millions of them do. If you have problems with drugs or alcohol, you need treatment to maximize your odds for recovery. But unfortunately, many of those affected never get that treatment. This is true for a number of reasons. Far too often, the reason is some kind of significant barrier to substance treatment.
What Is a Barrier to Substance Abuse Treatment?
A barrier to substance abuse treatment is anything that makes it harder for you to get help. Obstacles of this kind may exist at multiple levels of society, including the:
- Personal level
- Institutional level
- Governmental level
Some people only face one kind of barrier. However, many people face multiple obstacles to getting needed treatment. The more barriers confronting you, the lower the odds you may have of finding a suitable program.
Common Forms of Barriers to Treatment for Addiction
What are some of common specific barriers to treatment? Researchers and public health officials break down the most widespread obstacles into several categories, including:
- Financial barriers
- Structural barriers
- Barriers within the healthcare system
- Geographical barriers
- Individual barriers
- Gender-based barriers
Multiple kinds of obstacles exist within each of these categories. For example, financial barriers to treatment include low income and lack of insurance. Common structural barriers include being homeless or incarcerated in jail or prison. Barriers within the healthcare system include the wait times involved in gaining entry to some programs. They also include the ways treatment programs are sometimes organized and run.
One common individual barrier to treatment is a belief that such treatment is unnecessary. Another major factor for many people is the stigma often associated with seeking help. In addition, some people simply lack adequate knowledge of the potential consequences of untreated addiction.
Gender can also play a significant role. Compared to the average man, the average woman has higher chances of confronting more than one treatment barrier. When they do find help, women have lower odds of entering a dedicated substance treatment facility. Other barriers that women experience more often than men include:
- Economic difficulties
- The need for additional services along with addiction treatment
- Family responsibilities that make it harder to attend treatment regularly
- Feelings of embarrassment or shame regarding treatment
Barriers such as these make it more difficult for women to enter and complete treatment programs.
Geographical Limitations to Getting Addiction Treatment
Your location can have a big impact on your access to substance treatment. This is true whether you live in a rural community or an urban community. Common problems in rural areas include:
- Lack of treatment providers
- The amount of distance from suitable providers
Obstacles found largely in urban areas include:
- Language barriers for people who do not speak English
- High caseloads in available programs
- Understaffed programs
- Programs that lack adequate resources and infrastructure
In addition, there are barriers that tend to be shared by both rural and urban communities. Examples here include:
- Limited access to substance detox facilities
- Inadequate services for people with additional mental health issues
- Insufficient education regarding addiction and addiction treatment
- Difficulty finding adequate transportation options
Is Rehab Covered By Insurance?
Today, it is common to find employers who offer insurance plans that cover rehab services. That is especially true for larger companies. Federal law provides some protection for people who use their employer-based insurance for addiction treatment. Specifically, the policies offered by an employer cannot provide less coverage for rehab than for other serious health issues. The same protections apply to mental health treatment.
However, people with private insurance may still face significant treatment barriers. Examples of these barriers include:
- Being unprepared to stop drinking or taking drugs
- Stigma regarding drug or alcohol treatment
- Prioritizing other things above seeking needed treatment
Not surprisingly, financial barriers are a major concern for people who lack insurance.
The Marketplace and Obtaining Addiction Treatment Coverage
Since 2010, the federal Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has helped make insurance more available for much of the nation. All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia offer ACA plans through what are known as health insurance marketplaces.
By law, all plans offered through ACA marketplaces must provide some kind of substance rehab coverage. In addition, they must provide coverage for mental health treatment. The benefits you receive for these services cannot be restricted compared to the benefits for other forms of care. In addition, no annual or lifetime limit can be place on the amount of money provided for covered treatment.
Options For Financing Rehab Without Insurance
Despite the availability of employer and ACA coverage, some people do not have health insurance. What are your options for financing rehab if you fall into this category? One of the most common options is a payment plan. This kind of plan allows you to pay for substance treatment in installments rather than all at once. Not all rehab facilities make installment arrangements. However, many do.
Some people without insurance have other financing resources available to them. Potential examples of these resources include:
- Friends or family
- Home equity loans
- Valuable property
Can I Keep My Job Through Rehab?
Can your employer fire your for seeking substance treatment? In many cases, the answer to this question is no. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, states that no one can be fired just for having a:
- Medical condition
Serious substance abuse and addiction are covered under these terms. As long as you disclose your reason for needing time off, your employer must accommodate you. However, the ADA does not prevent your employer from firing you for substance-related issues such as:
- Poor job performance
- Frequently tardiness
- Recurring absenteeism
It also does not prevent you from being fired if you fail to disclose your substance problems. In addition, you can potentially be fired if you continue to have significant workplace problems following treatment.
Troubleshooting Getting into Treatment
What can you do if you need help troubleshooting barriers to substance treatment? You have a number of options available. For example, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, offers a nationwide treatment helpline. This helpline provides information on available programs in all 50 states. You can use it whether or not you have health insurance. SAMHSA’s anonymous services are free of charge. They are also available day and night throughout the year.
On a more local level, a state, county or municipal agency may be able to direct you to workable program options. You may also benefit from a conversation with your doctor or an addiction specialist. In addition, many rehab providers now host websites with online information forms. When you fill out one of these forms, you can get an assessment of your current situation.
Overcoming Barriers to Treatment Is Possible at TDH
Are you facing significant barriers to substance treatment? Contact the addiction specialists at The Discovery House. We’re dedicated to helping you find a way to overcome those barriers. We accept most preferred provider, or PPO, insurance plans. Depending on your situation, your plan may cover some or all of your needed services.
The Discovery House also helps you make other arrangements when health insurance is not available. Your potential options include loans and payment plans. We’ll talk you through these options and help you find one that works for you. To learn more about overcoming your barriers to substance treatment, call us today.