I Need Help…But Where Do I Start?

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Substance abuse is a serious problem for many teens and adults. You might be addicted if you can’t stop taking drugs, if you think about drugs a lot or if you have stolen drugs or money. When drugs become more important to you than your family, friends or job, you may need professional help to stop. But asking for help can be scary. Let’s talk about how to get help for drug abuse.

There are many reasons you cannot stop taking drugs on your own. Drug use changes parts of the brain, including the part that is responsible for self-control. However, you can ask for help. If you don’t want to go to your family, a good place to start is with your doctor. If your doctor isn’t comfortable discussing drug abuse and treatment, ask for a referral to another doctor or contact an addiction specialist.

If you and your doctor determine that you would benefit from treatment for addiction, the next step is finding a treatment center.

What should you look for in a treatment center?

Here are five questions you can ask about the program:

  • Are the treatments backed by scientific evidence?
  • Is the treatment tailored to your specific needs?
  • Will the program adapt as your needs change?
  • What is the duration of the treatment and will that be sufficient?
  • Does a self-help program such as 12-step recovery fit into the treatment?
  • Is the program state licensed and accredited by an impartial third party such as The Joint Commission or CARF?

You probably have many more questions. Some programs are outpatient, allowing you to work while you’re in treatment. Other programs are residential, where you live at the treatment center 24/7 until your goals are reached. Good treatment programs will answer your questions with concrete answers and may even have solutions that you have never considered.

Payments options for treatment vary, too. Check with your health insurance first to determine what benefits you have available. Many states have programs for low-income individuals that are free or based on income. Don’t let money be an issue when you need help. There are resources that are available to make treatment affordable.

Entering treatment

Once you’re in treatment, any drugs you’ve been using will begin to work their way out of your system. If you have been using certain substances like opiates, benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax) or alcohol, you may need go through an initial detox process.  Detox can be scary, but it is safe. You could experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms, but treatment centers are very experienced and there may be medications that can help you feel better throughout the process.

Your treatment team may consist of many different addiction specialists, including doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers to help you get better. Getting your family and friends involved is a good motivator for you, but if you have burned bridges, you may need to make reparations. Fortunately, people recover from substance abuse and go on to lead successful lives making a difference in the community and passing on what they have learned to others who need help.