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It’s Okay to Ask for Help. What to Expect, and Why the First Phone Call is So Critical

Wooden signpost with four arrows - help, support, advice, guidance - great for topics like frequently asked questions, customer support etc.There are a variety of reasons why people don’t ask for help, even when the support of a reliable friend or expert may be the difference between coping or collapsing—or even life or death. Some people feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, vulnerability, or ignorance. In reality, it is a sign of strength and proof that we know ourselves, our limits, and accept that as humans we are stronger together than we ever can be alone. If you are living with a substance use or mental health disorder and are ready to begin the road to recovery, make your first step asking for help. Here’s what you can expect, and why your first phone call is the most critical move you can make.

What to Expect When You Ask for Help

  1. A Startled or a Relieved Reaction from Loved Ones. Your friends or family may not realize that you are even struggling, or they may have been waiting for you to reach out and acknowledge that you need help. Try not to let yourself be startled by their reaction, or let the fear of it stop you from reaching out. Your loved ones may need time to come to terms with what is really going on, or it may feel that their willingness to help is frighteningly exuberant. Either way, remember that they want to help you and that their support will be critical to your recovery.
  2. Other People May Deny You Have a Problem. Ask for help from someone in your life who does not share your substance use or mental health disorder. Otherwise, if you express your need for recovery help from someone who regularly abuses drugs or alcohol, and unlike you is not yet ready to seek treatment, he or she may discourage you from seeking help. You may hear phrases of denial such as, “There’s nothing wrong with how much you drink,” or “Everyone smokes pot,” or “If you stop using, you won’t be any fun anymore.” Understand that such expressions of resistance are selfish and that you need to find people in your life who are sober and who will support—not hinder your recovery progress.
  3. A Clinical Assessment. If you choose to outreach initially to a doctor, counselor, or therapist—which is a responsible and safe decision—know that your clinician may want to begin your treatment with a thorough assessment that may include your personal and family health history, a mental health screening, and a physical exam. If you are someone who thinks that a doctor’s office is a frightening place, try not to let your fears hold you back from being open and honest with your clinician. Only through honesty and openness can a doctor, therapist, or counselor devise an effective treatment plan—which is exactly what you want.

Why the First Request for Help is the Most Crucial

The first call you make for help, whether it be to a friend, spouse, child, parent, doctor, or counselor, is the most critical because it is the one that will enable you to turn your life around. For many living with addiction or a mental health disorder, saying the words, “I have a problem,” or “I am addicted to—” aloud is the most challenging part of asking for help. Admitting you are struggling and showing the vulnerability of needing help is a frightening step that too often stops people from finding the words that could save their life.

When to Get Help

If you believe that you are suffering from a substance use or mental health disorder, today is a great day to ask for help. Reach out to a loved one or a trusted medical resource. Asking for help is never a weakness. It is the most reliable pathway to self-help and to making your health and well-being the long-term priority that it should be.

When you call Horizon for the first time, you’ll speak with a patient support specialist. Your call is always private and confidential. Call 716-831-1800 and take that first step on the road to recovery and living your best life.