Avoiding Addiction Treatment – The Back-to-School Excuse

Avoiding addiction treatment back to school with parents and children

This time of year, it is the back-to-school excuse.

The admissions specialists at Sanford Behavioral Health have heard every excuse in the book for avoiding addiction treatment. A person calls for information about Sanford’s programs, but “for future reference because it is not a convenient time.” During the holidays, there are mandatory work or family get-togethers. School is letting out in spring, or there is a long-planned vacation and non-refundable tickets to consider. This time of year brings the back-to-school excuse. Or the post-summer, nose to the grindstone at work reason for waiting to commit.


“Throw us a curveball. Please give us your best reason for not being able to get the help you need. We will accommodate you or find a solution. Opening the conversation is the best way to get to the root of the objection and lay out the options.” Kelly Stone, Sanford Behavioral Health, Director of Admissions



Avoiding Addiction Treatment

Why do individuals or their family members call treatment centers to gather information but put off going to treatment until a future date? Because they know there is a problem but want to maintain their day-to-day activities, especially during the holidays, post-summer obligations, or before a milestone event. Sadly, these events present the same triggers that have them calling us in the first place.


When deciding about getting help for a drug/alcohol problem, we are a little like Scarlett O’Hara. It is convenient to say, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” But that’s the problem with procrastinating about something painful: like addressing addiction. Thinking about change is not making change. As the Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


Obligations and Expectations

There are obligations, especially with young children, that demand parental involvement. There might also be special projects, corporate expectations, and requirements. But, if you are concerned enough to call a treatment center, you are probably already at risk of compromising your job and family relationships. You are probably already the parent who smells of telltale alcohol at the school orientation or the employee who is late or off-kilter at office events. Are you missing a parent-teacher conference or a PTA meeting? Ask yourself how practical your decision-making skills are or whether your children would be happy to see you take the initiative.


Sanford Builds Flexibility in Real-Life Outpatient Programs

At Sanford Behavioral Health, we understand the challenges people face in 2023. That is why we build flexibility into our individualized recovery programs that work with your real life. There are alternatives to residential treatment or extended stays away from home. With in-person and telehealth options, Sanford Outpatient Center allows for continuing everyday activities, like picking up the kids from school, while integrating effective strategies to manage real-life recovery. And our admissions specialists are always available to discuss various treatment options (and parry your excuses).


August and September are good months to get help with an SUD. While the kids return to school, you can work on your coping skills and improve your life. The following are treatment options that do not require a block of time away from home:


Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP or half-day programs)

Half-day programs take place three times a week for three hours. Tracks are conveniently scheduled in the morning (9:00 – noon, Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or evening (5:00 – 8:00, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday). Flexible schedules allow clients to continue real-life activities like school, childcare, or work outside the home. [Learn more…]


Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP or day programs)

Day programs take place five days a week for six hours a day. The schedule is 9:00 – 3:00, Monday through Friday. Day programs provide therapy, structure, and accountability during the day while allowing clients to practice their learned skills after daily programming concludes. [Learn more...]



Virtual addiction treatment, or telehealth, offers the same evidence-based practices that our in-person programs provide, but in the comfort and safety of the home. Programs are facilitated through video chatting on either smartphones or computers. Telehealth is offered in half-day programs. [Learn more…]

Don’t Put Off the Inevitable

Ultimately, we all have to face life’s difficulties, but one of the joys of recovery from addiction is the clear light of a new day. There is no “perfect time” to get help for a substance use disorder. But now is as good a time as any. Pick up the phone and improve your life in the new school year.


after marilyn head shot bio

Marilyn Spiller is a viral writer, recovery coach, and recovery advocate. She is the Marketing Director at Sanford, responsible for written and creative content, website design, new media, promotions, subscriber outreach, and SEO. Excursions Magazine is a particular source of pride; it serves a wide range of readers, and “excursion” has become part of the company vernacular, describing Sanford’s signature experiential outings for those in treatment. She also developed and hosts the podcast Anatomy of Addiction and is Vice President of the Board of JACK Mental Health Advocacy.