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EDUCATION - KEY TOPIC

Understanding the Problem

Why Getting Help Soon Matters

Whatever our challenge, getting help sooner matters. Starting our growth or recovery process now moves us closer to greater connection, health, and hope. Addressing addiction and mental health challenges earlier can prevent more severe symptoms and consequences. Continuing in our addiction only strengthens the unhealthy patterns in the brain. Our need for that addictive substance or behavior can become so profound and desperate that, over time, we find ourselves doing dangerous, risky things that have major consequences for ourselves or loved ones. Taking a step forward now may seem unappealing, but it can be life-changing. You’re worth it.

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Start the Journey

Whatever the challenge is that you’re facing, getting help sooner starts the journey to greater hope, fulfillment, and health. Taking steps earlier allows for greater opportunity to experience more in life, no matter the challenge. If the goal of the process is finding greater connection, hope, and purpose in life, why not start sooner? Of course, it may not feel that simple. Human preference for routine, pattern, and habit can make change feel hard, but taking steps forward is possible.

Recognizing that everyone needs help from time to time, and that there’s no shame in pursuing it, can help motivate us to move forward. When we understand what is to be gained, we don’t just have to wait for the negative consequences to come to start our process. Additionally, we may need better understanding of what “getting help” can actually mean.

Avoid Worse Consequences

The sooner we start moving in the direction of health, the lower the intensity of the services we might need. However, delaying can mean the opposite. Start with a counselor or therapist and see if additional care is needed. Focus on what might be gained through the process. Recovery is an opportunity to rediscover life, be it stronger family relationships, a greater sense of purpose and meaning, the ability to pursue dreams and passions that you’ve previously wanted to, or simply more joy and peace.

For addictions, getting help sooner is particularly important. The longer one engages in addictive behavior, the stronger the unhealthy rewards system experienced in addiction becomes in the brain. Contextual triggers, such as a local watering hole for an alcoholic or the sight of a syringe for a drug addict, become stronger and introduce intense desire for the associated substance or experience. The sooner that individuals are able to find environments that support recovery, and begin to address the trauma and pain from which individuals are seeking to escape, the less the brain has developed chemical reactions and dependencies on those substances.

Additionally, getting help sooner, even if it’s just overuse and not technically an addiction, can greatly reduce the consequences that addiction or substance overuse can bring. There’s a scientific reason for this. As an addicted brain continues to use a certain substance to release a “high,” the brain adjusts and the effect of the substance use feels relatively weaker. Thus, those addicted find a continual need for more of the substance or experience. This desire-for increase can greatly increase the likelihood of more significant consequences, whether it be the financial cost of supporting the habit, costly behaviors and lost time spent accessing the “high,” costs to relationships and family members affected by their addicted loved one’s behavior, or the physical cost of greater abuse of substances, including the possibility of overdose and death.

Start Discovering More in Life Today

Getting help sooner starts the process of discovering greater purpose and meaning in life.  Understanding a medical condition is involved — that addiction is not just a lack of willpower or moral failure — breaks the stigma and shame that keeps people from seeking help sooner. Stepping forward earlier in the process may not feel easy or comfortable. But it’s the best. There’s hope, healing, and life possible. If it helps, try finding someone you trust that would be willing to help you start the process.

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