The Art of Asking for Help Ending Substance Use

Oct 13, 2020

Many women with substance use disorders may see asking for help as a sign of weakness, yet identifying the need for help is an early step in moving successfully towards recovery. The challenge is in recognizing the barriers (seen and unseen) to asking for help. Women struggling with a dependence on alcohol or other drugs can benefit from learning to connect self-advocacy to ongoing self-care. Today, let’s talk about what might be holding you back from finding the support you need to start recovery.  

While asking for help with a substance use disorder can feel overwhelming to a woman, it’s imperative to look for ways to get the support needed to begin working towards recovery. Whether the barrier until now has been related to shame over the drug or alcohol use or a loss of trusted social connections, it’s helpful to practice self-advocacy and look for sources for potential help in person or online. Someone who’s been in recovery for a while can be a significant part of a support system, and a family physician or other trusted medical professional can be another safe person willing to respond positively to your request for help with an SUD.

Acknowledge what’s kept you from asking for help.

For most women, there’s more than one reason to avoid telling people about a drug or alcohol problem. The shame of addiction may be one, and the threat of losing friends, a job, a significant other also can influence a woman to live in denial about her dependence. Whatever the barrier for you appears to be, it’s held a power over you and delayed your ability to start the treatment you need to return to wellness.

Recognize why ending substance use requires help.

Independent thinkers may feel like a substance use disorder is a problem they must solve on their own. As determined as you might be, ending a dependence on drugs or alcohol by yourself drastically reduces your chances of sustaining long-term recovery. If a co-occurring mental health disorder accompanies the substance use, simply quitting drinking or doing drugs may only solve the problem briefly. At the same time, undiagnosed depression or anxiety could lead you back to relapse and return to the same lifestyle. 

Practice advocating for yourself.

If you’re someone who resists asking for anything from other people, you may be missing opportunities when letting someone provide assistance is perfectly acceptable. Looking for small opportunities to let trusted friends and family know you need something is a way to advocate for yourself without setting an expectation that what you need will be delivered in the way you need it and when you want it. Even if the response isn’t what you expected, inviting someone to offer an idea can be rewarding.

Give yourself more than one option for finding help.

Each person you ask will offer something different or may offer nothing at all. Rather than setting your intention to turn to one person, explore what people in your life are equipped to offer right now in terms of information and support. A response from your doctor will be very different than one from a family member or a friend, for example.

Accept the limitations of each kind of help available.

Anyone you ask isn’t necessarily going to go the distance with you, but each person may play an important role in your recovery. For instance, a family member you’ve had conflict with in the past may be willing to listen, but may not want to help you research treatment options. You may find less resistance to requests for help if you think how well matched your request for help is with the relationship, such as seeking help from a person who’s been through treatment and has been sustaining her recovery.  


Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.

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