When is the best time to go to rehab? Signs you need help

Written by: Dr Oscar D’Agnone
Published: | Updated: 25/02/2020
Edited by: Cameron Gibson-Watt

The process of accepting that you have a substance abuse problem can be a difficult and turbulent journey. Although denial can be a useful coping mechanism when you are suffering any kind of addiction, it doesn’t help you solve the underlying problem: your addiction isn't going to go away and you need to seek professional help.


Realising that you need help is the first step in the process of accepting your reality and when all positive change begins. But, how do you know when you need to start this process? Sometimes it isn’t that clear.


London psychiatrist and Medical Director of The OAD ClinicDr Oscar D'Agnone, explains in this article, for anyone who is suffering an addiction problem when it’s the best time to go to rehab and what signs indicate that you need help.



When is the best time to go to rehab?

If people who care about you (family, friends, employer, etc.) have in any way shape or form expressed more than one concern about your drinking, then the best time to go to rehab is right now.


However, it’s very easy to put it off, and you will likely find plenty of reasons why you should go “later on”. For instance, you may be worried about your job or family responsibilities; you may even care about what other people think or you might simply just be scared. This is because there is a lot of stigma around addiction, but don’t let this discourage you from reaching out to friends, family and professionals.


The reason why going to rehab right now is the best time is because addiction is a progressive disease, and however bad things may seem right now, they are going to get a lot worse.


Even when you are aware that you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, it isn’t always obvious when you need to go to rehab. This is because in the early stages most people feel that they can control the problem or even quit on their own. However, the realisation that they need to go to rehab appears after they try to quit and they fail, and serious problems at home, work or with loved ones arise.


How do you know if you need to go to rehab?

There are some signs to look out for which can help you decide whether professional help is the right way forward:


  • You have developed a tolerance or a physical dependence on a substance.
  • You have neglected or abandoned your hobbies because using substances is your only interest.
  • Your family and friends have told you that they are concerned about your drinking or drug habit.
  • You find yourself in financial trouble because of your drinking or drug habit, which results in needing to borrow money.
  • You feel that you have to keep your drinking or substance use a secret from everyone else.
  • You are finding problems at work or school, which can include poor attendance or performance or even getting fired.
  • Your health is deteriorating because of substance abuse.
  • You feel guilty or shameful of your substance use.
  • You aren’t paying your bills on time because you spend most of your money on alcohol or drugs.
  • Your behaviour is or is beginning to become unsafe or risky.
  • You are losing your ability to handle your responsibilities. 
  • Substance abuse is interfering with your ability to spend time with your friends or family.


It’s important to note that each person can experience the consequences of addiction differently. The consequences of a substance addiction can also have an effect on your mental health, causing depression and anxiety. If you feel like many of these signs are relatable to your current situation, it’s a good idea to talk to someone before it gets even worse. For most people, it is easier to talk about depression and anxiety than the addiction itself, which leads to more suffering and wasted time, rather than receiving the right treatment.


Who should you talk to about this?

If you’ve had a moment of awareness and realised you need help, you must grasp that opportunity and start talking to people you trust and looking for professional help. Don’t let yourself rethink your decision, which is something that denial can have you do.


Talk to people such as your doctor, your family or trusted friends. You can also call a rehab clinic directly and find out if you have insurance coverage that will pay for you to go to treatment.


If you are employed, find out what your employer’s policies are on employee leave for rehab. If you have to leave your job to go to treatment, it’s important to realise that going to treatment can save your life and that eventually, an alcohol or substance addiction will take everything from you—including your job. It’s best to take the leap of faith and get help right now.


Dr Oscar D'Agnone is a highly respected psychiatrist in Central London with more than 25 years of experience treating people with alcoholism and other addictions. If you would like to talk to him, visit his Top Doctors profile and check his availability.

By Dr Oscar D’Agnone

Dr Oscar D'Agnone MD MRCPsych is one of the most senior and respected psychiatrists and medical addiction specialists in the UK specialising in anxiety disorders, addictions, alcohol-related problems, trauma (PTSD), depression and ADHD. He is currently CEO and Medical Director of  Seagrave Healthcare/The OAD Clinic, a leading private institution providing mental health and addiction treatment in central London for over 15 years.

Until November 2018 Dr D'Agnone has been Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester, member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the International Society of Addiction Medicine.

With over 35 years of experience as a consultant psychiatrist treating patients with mental health and addiction problems, Dr D'Agnone provides complex psycho-neuropharmacological interventions to manage or resolve challenging situations for his patients and their families suffering the consequences of mental health problems. Throughout his career he has held many managerial positions, leading large teams of doctors, nurses and psychologists through various treatment settings across Europe and America. As a result, he has obtained a rich clinical experience that has allowed him to develop and offer a problem-focused pragmatic approach to the variety of pharmacological and psychosocial interventions for his patients.

Dr D'Agnone has taught in many European and American universities and institutions and published numerous medical papers and books on addictions and has published widely in the professional medical press. In addition, he often presents at noteable national and international scientific conferences and is the senior adviser for various governments and pharmaceuticals on policy strategy and the research and development of new drugs.

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