LIVINGSTON/CARPENTER, Ten16: September is Recovery Month

By Kim Livingston
Ten 16 prevention coordinator, and Susan Carpenter Ten 16 office manager/certified recovery coach

When you see on the street, or read in the paper someone passed out or homeless, you wonder why they don’t just get help. The reaction is the same to the co-worker who keeps embarrassing themselves at office parties or golf outings, the constant drunk at bars, the relative who ruins every family gathering, or the loved one on their second or third DUI.

Chances are you know someone with a drug and/or alcohol problem. Surely, you think, this person would want to get treatment. In all these situations we ask ourselves: Why do people who need treatment not get it?

The answers may or may not surprise you. The fact of the matter is the situations are complex and diverse. There’s no one single reason.

When you think of the population as a whole, most people, when it comes to alcohol, drink very little or not at all. There is another large group of people who could be classified as heavy or abusive drinkers, meaning they drink substantially but do not necessarily meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. Only about 10 percent of the drinking population, about 25 million people, meets the criteria for addiction. The sad part is only about 10 percent of addicts, 2.5 million people, seek treatment for their addiction.

Addiction professionals say there are several underlying reasons why persons who are addicted or dependent upon alcohol and/or drugs don’t seek treatment. Elements Behavioral Health says these could include any, some, or all of the following;

  • Not ready to stop using
  • Not knowing how to live without using
  • Possible negative effect on job or that boss will find out
  • Not knowing where to go for treatment
  • Not knowing there might be state funds to help pay for treatment
  • Concern that receiving treatment might cause neighbors/community to have a negative opinion
  • Denial — refusal to accept he or she has a problem with alcohol, drugs or both.
  • Concern Child Protective Services will be called
  • Fear of the future — they may have trouble remembering what life was like without substances
  • Stigma — Along with denial there may be the stigma attached to “going into rehab.” Even though the American Medical Association states addiction is a disease, society still treats addicts with a certain amount of contempt.

To best help an addict, learn as much as you can about drug and alcohol abuse and addiction and co-occurring mental health issues. Be ready and supportive of the addict when he/she admits to their addiction and is willing to seek treatment.

In the end, the addict must commit to seeking help and work the program for it to have any beneficial effect. No one but the addict can do this; however, support from family and friends is a vital part of successful recovery. Coercion, threats, and promises usually don’t work. The best thing anyone who cares for the addict can do is be ready when this occurs.

In Osceola and Mecosta counties, Ten 16 Recovery Network offers prevention education programs including a community coalition, detox services, residential treatment, outpatient counseling and recovery housing. Ten 16 also has recovery coaches whose main job is to assist addicts to help them achieve successful abstinence from substances while attending other services.

To learn more about any of Ten 16 Recovery Network’s services, please call (231) 527-2000 or go online at National Recovery Month information can be found at