Getting Help & Treatment Options

Admitting that you have a substance abuse problem isn't easy. It takes courage and honesty to admit you're abusing alcohol or other drugs. But once you're ready to look at your use, you've taken a big step toward overcoming the problem. When you face your problem, you also accept that you're accountable for your actions and for changing them. There are many programs and people who can help you overcome your problem. And remember, it's okay to get help. It's also the first step to getting your life back together.

Recovery doesn't happen overnight. It's a lifelong process with many steps along the way. During those steps, you'll work on changing the things that were part of your substance abuse. A counselor or other health care provider can give you support. So can a priest, minister or rabbi who is trained in substance abuse counseling. Friends and family can also help. Together you can decide on lifestyle changes you need to make. And you can deal with problems that may come up.


Treatment Options

There are many drug treatment programs. Some are live-in (inpatient), others are drop-in (outpatient). All offer some kind of counseling, and some include medical treatment. Check with your health insurance carrier or your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to find out what your options are.

One-on-one counseling

In individual counseling, you meet alone with a counselor. This allows you to focus on your own goals and problems. One-on-one counseling may be better for you if you need special help or don't like talking in groups.

Group counseling

In group counseling, you meet in a small group with a counselor. The others in the group are also substance abusers who want to get help. You can give each other support and help each other learn to cope with problems. Hearing other life stories and sharing yours helps you know that you're not alone. 

12-step programs

Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are free support groups that guide you through a 12-step recovery process. Many people choose a sponsor to help them along the way. AA and other 12-step programs are found in nearly all communities.

Treatment centers

A treatment center is a facility where you get medical care and counseling during withdrawal and the early stages of recovery. Some are live-in and some are day (outpatient) programs. Most live-in programs last at least 30 days. Day programs may last longer.

Halfway houses

A halfway house is a drug-free place to live while you're recovering. Everyone in the halfway house is going through the same things you are. You take part in support groups and other activities each day. You may also go to work.

Other treatments

Acupuncture, hypnosis and biofeedback are sometimes used along with other treatment options. You might want to talk with your health care provider about these.

Dealing with withdrawal

Stopping your use may cause withdrawal symptoms. These can include:

  • Sleeplessness, nausea and sweating
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Muscle spasms
  • Convulsions

Talk to your health care provider. Be honest about your use. You may need to be under medical care. This care is called detoxification, or "detox." During detox:

  • You may be given medication to help you through the first stages of withdrawal, or
  • You may decide to stop using under medical care but with no medication.