It is often incredibly tough to ask for help when you really need it. For many people, even the smallest things are difficult to seek support with, even if you know there will be no judgement on the other side.

While this behavior and tendency is informed by many different things for different people–from deep-rooted experience to simple personality traits–there is no doubt that in certain situations, it is necessary to ask for help. This is particularly true if you are struggling with substance abuse.

The good news is that if you have already recognized that you are struggling with substance abuse or a severe dependency issue, then half the work is done already. It takes a lot of strength and guts to look yourself in the mirror and take objective notes of what you see. This is no small feat and should not be minimized. But the next step is equally as tough: Reaching out for support to recover from the addiction.

If you are trying to navigate how to reach out and find help, here are a few places to begin.

Put it on Paper

Or if not on paper, in an email. It is often difficult to seek out support from family and friends because the face-to-face conversations involved when sharing your addiction with others can be extremely hard. Even if you have the most loving and supportive community, it can be tough to find the courage to navigate personal conversations. With so much emotion involved–and for many folks, a lot of shame–this type of confrontation can cause a lot of anxiety and stress.

That’s why it is often a good idea to write a letter or send an email to those that you want to reach out to. This allows those struggling with addiction to retain a sense of control over the situation, putting the conversation in their terms. You also don’t have to worry about the immediate gut reaction of those you tell and can focus instead on your own experience, which is far more important. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to spell out how you want people to treat you and what type of support you need from loved ones.

Speak to a Medical Professional

If talking to family and friends first seems like too much to handle, consider reaching out to a medical professional first. By talking to a doctor, you are offering information to an objective third party who does not have any emotional investment in the situation.

They will walk you through the basic steps of what you need to do moving forward, all informed by professional medical opinion. And once you have spoken to someone and broken the seal, it may be easier to approach conversations with loved ones.

Join a Support Group

There is nothing wrong with seeking help from a larger community. On the contrary, finding support groups for the specific struggles you are facing can be life-changing. Not only do these people genuinely understand the hardships of addiction, but they can be a great resource.

They can give you information about many different rehabilitation centers and individual experiences there. Since the net of recovery programs is so wide, from effective sober living in California to church-sponsored organizations in the Midwest, it can be extremely influential and affirming to hear opinions and stories first-hand.

Support groups in your community are also a great way to remind yourself that you are not alone. Whether you feel unprepared to reach out to loved ones or are not entirely sure how to face an addiction moving forward, there is always help available to those who seek it out.

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