I Can’t Go to Rehab Now – Our 10 “Favorite” Excuses to Debunk

There is no “perfect time” to get help for a substance use disorder, but now is as good a time as any.

It’s almost that time of year – Halloween parties, family gatherings, pageants at church and school, and an array of parties. The admissions specialists at Sanford Behavioral Health have favorite excuses for putting off the inevitable treatment for addiction, especially this time of year.  Why? Because the holidays are a last-ditch opportunity for tying on “one last” drinking or using spree before the new year. This is a doomed proposition, as statistics show that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail.


10 Favorite Excuses to Debunk

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 don’t want to impact their day-to-day activities, especially during the holidays or before a milestone event. Sadly, these events present the same triggers that have them calling us in the first place. There is no wrong time to get help for a substance use disorder (SUD). And with myriad options to get the help you need, there are no excuses, reasons, or plans that cannot be debunked.


“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

1. I am expected to attend the office party, school Christmas pageant, wedding, trip to The Bahamas, my birthday, and so on.

There are obligations, especially with young children, that demand parental involvement. There might also be non-refundable tickets or corporate expectations and requirements. But, if you are concerned enough to call a treatment center, you are probably already at risk of compromising your office and family relationships. Ask yourself how much enjoyment you are getting out of life. And whether you need another one of those stories to tell. Outpatient therapy at Sanford provides Individualized recovery programs that work with your real life, in person or via telehealth.


Outpatient programs for your real life! Call now for information or admissions at 616.202.3326


2. I am the family breadwinner; we can’t afford rehab. How can I go away for a long time?

At Sanford, we aim to determine a clinically appropriate placement for everyone in the least restrictive level of care. We work with all insurance companies who generally cover the cost except for patient policy deductibles (get in before the end of the year). There are also alternatives to residential treatment or extended stays away from home. With in-person and telehealth options, Sanford Outpatient Center allows for continuing everyday activities while integrating effective strategies to manage real-life recovery. Our Admissions Specialists are always available to discuss various treatment options (and parry your excuses).

3. I will wait till it’s safe and there is no chance of getting the flu or a COVID variation.

At Sanford Behavioral Health, the safety of our clients and staff has always been our number one priority. With the advent of COVID-19 and its variants, we have increased our stringent policies and response protocols to keep our facilities safe. We take pride in providing a safe environment while offering evidence-based treatment and recovery practices. Telehealth options are also available for those uncomfortable in a group setting.


4. Thanks for the information – I’ll think about it excuse.

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




5. I am vital to my children’s well-being. I am needed at home.

This might be painful to hear, but it is sometimes a blessing to have a family member with a SUD out of the house, especially if that loved one gets the help to strengthen the family in the long run. This is the time to ask for help from a family member or friend – the relatively short stay away from home in residential treatment is an investment in a lifetime of active presence in your children’s lives. Some options allow for treatment while managing child rearing in a real-time, real-life setting.


6. With a rancorous divorce/separation happening, I don’t want anyone to know I am going away for treatment. I’m afraid it will be used against me.

Let’s talk about the specific situation and find a solution. Divorce is a challenging, emotional circumstance that should be managed with a clear head. At Sanford, we take confidentiality seriously. Who you tell about what you are doing and where you are going is your business. Treatment at all levels is HIPAA-compliant, which means you specify who can contact you or be contacted while in a Sanford facility. Special arrangements can be made to allow for conversations with children, lawyers, or others managing legal matters.


excuses for avoiding treatment

Are you not feeling like it’s the most beautiful time of year? Make a call at 616.202.3326

7. I am needed at work. I have to be available by computer and phone.

An SUD impacts production and decision-making even if you are high-functioning at work. A break from work to address substance use issues is always good for the bottom line and company morale. The holidays are often when work schedules are reduced, or a significant other can contribute more to childcare – an added reason to consider holiday timing as a positive. Talk to us about specific needs to contact work by computer and phone during residential treatment.


8. I don’t want to go to treatment now. It would seem too lonely and depressing

In this case, “now” is another word for “ever.” But the residential treatment does not have to be lonely or depressing, even during a festive time of year. The schedule at Sanford Behavioral Health during December and January includes tree and cookie decorating, family brunches, holiday foods, and an excursion to see the light displays in some of the local neighborhoods. The regional Alano Club promotes festive, sober events. The Sanford staff and clinical therapists are empathetic to the sensitivities our clients might experience during the holiday season. Holidays in rehab (whether Christmas or Memorial Day) are an excellent first opportunity to practice sober socializing while in the safety of treatment.


9. I do not have anyone to take care of my dog/cat/parakeet

Now is the time to get creative. Your beloved pet will be better off with a healthy owner. If you plan a stay in residential treatment, pets are an issue! Please be sure to seek the help of a colleague, family member, or friend to watch your charge or explore Outpatient and Virtual Options. Pets are one of the positives of telehealth!


10. I am a single working parent (most often a woman); I do not have insurance or the resources to pay for formal treatment.

Number 10 is the most heartbreaking and frustrating on the list of excuses. Addiction does not discriminate, but single parents/women or those without resources or insurance are often the “forgotten demographic” when granting addiction treatment. Fortunately, one of the silver linings of the pandemic is a rise in virtual options many of them free. Short-term disability might be an option. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.


Please Don’t Put Off the Inevitable

In the end, we all have to face life’s difficulties. Several of our admissions specialists are in recovery from a SUD and had to face their issues and make a change. They are empathetic and excellent listeners. One of the joys of recovery from addiction is the clear, clean 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 (and 2023 is almost over!). Pick up the phone, forget the excuses and change your life for the better in the new year.


Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit www.sanfordbehavioralhealth.com.