© 2018 Independent Recovery Solutions LLC; West Palm Beach, FL

Barriers to Substance Use Counseling


What is it that prevents individuals from seeking substance use services? One factor which is undoubtedly salient is barriers. Barriers may be internally enforced or externally imposed, and those affected by them may not even be aware that these barriers are in place.  Identifying these barriers is a good place to start, which is where counselors step in. We will attempt to identify some of these barriers publicly. It is our hopes that we can help educate those struggling with substances, but also friends and family.



Perhaps the most obvious barrier is that some individuals don't want services. They may believe that they can successfully use drugs somehow, and are not ready to try something different, like counseling. This is the first internally enforced barrier. If the individual can determine how to successfully use substances, then they have no need for substance use services. 


Family may also be creating barriers for individuals to seek services. This can be intentional or unintentional. Regardless, the impact is real. Statements such as, “why can't you just stop?” create a huge support deficit, and may reduce self-esteem, which is already most likely at an all time low. It shows the individual that the family does not believe that substance use is a condition or a disease, rather it is a choice. Telling a sick family member to not be sick is unacceptable. Unfortunately, this is due primarily to a lack of public awareness on substance use, and it’s status as a mental health disorder. Substance use is recognized as a disorder by all helping professions. Parents and family should educate themselves further if they do not understand. If you are struggling with your family members substance use, please reach out to us, as we can help. Removing this barrier may assist your loved one with receiving the help that they need.


Family may also be locked into traditional inpatient treatment as the only option for services. Going to “rehab” is a standard remedy for substance use in America. When someone has a drug problem, they go to rehab, they're cured, and life resumes normally. First of all, this is highly inaccurate. This is not how inpatient substance use treatment works. There is no cure, and life does not resume normal functioning, in the same way that a diabetic properly managing their diabetes has to adjust their lifestyle. Second, families and individuals may not know that private counseling services exist as an alternative. This is a knowledge-based and culturally implemented barrier. 


Time is another major barrier that is connected to many other barriers. Individuals seeking services may work full time jobs, have children, or many other responsibilities. Having to take care of a family makes it difficult to go to inpatient treatment. These are very real concerns that create barriers that may seem difficult to circumvent or remove.  Understanding that alternatives such as private counseling exist can provide this population with services that are desperately needed, but perceived to be inaccessible. Ironically, in order to be responsible in these areas, substance use needs to be placed in remission. Those who are actively using or drinking well most likely find it increasingly difficult to manage their responsibilities. They will need to acknowledge the need to take care of themselves, and the role that this plays in their ability to care for their family. This is an extremely difficult internal barrier to remove without intervention by professionals. 


Some barriers may be a bit more logistical. Counseling may be difficult financially for some families or individuals. We operate on am income-based sliding scale which may help manage paying for services. Another barrier is transportation. Transportation may be unavailable or limited for various reasons. At Independent Recovery, we are fully mobile and also offer video counseling services. Video counseling may also alleviate shame or guilt-based internal barriers. Video sessions are very discrete and are conducted from the privacy of your own home. 


If you identify with any of these barriers, or the challenges we have discussed, give us a call. Or head on over to our Get Started page and fill out our brief form to help us help you better. If you are a family member or loved one, please reach out to us as well.