The biggest myth about drug and alcohol rehabilitation is that treatment doesn’t work. Believing that may be one reason that finding the right treatment program seems so hard.
Another myth told is that substance abuse is just a matter of choice. The truth is that drug addiction and alcohol addiction are long-lasting diseases. They can be treated as successfully as many other long-lasting diseases like high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes.
You may have had a choice when you first started using drugs or alcohol. But, after a while, these drugs actually change the structure and functioning of your brain. Once you are addicted, the urge to use the substance you are addicted to becomes so powerful that you may continue using it without thinking about what could happen.
You need to ask for help if you continue to use drugs or alcohol even after developing problems with your health, your job or education, or your relationships. Another warning sign is your need for more drugs or alcohol to get the same pleasant feeling as when you first started using them.
Treatment isn’t the same for everyone. Your program choice may be affected by:
Your age and sex
The drug or drugs you’re abusing
Your medical history, including mental health problems
The cost of treatment
Your insurance coverage
Your social support
The first step is admitting that you have a problem and that you need help. The next is accepting that treatment takes time. Short-term, one-time treatments hardly ever work. The best treatment programs offer many services over a period of time. Studies show that anything less than 90 days is not long enough.
Here are resources that you can use to take the next steps:
Your health care provider may be able to take care of your immediate needs and help you find a treatment program.
Workplaces that sponsor employee assistance programs may offer counseling and referrals for drug and alcohol treatment.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help you find a drug and alcohol treatment center near you by visiting its website or calling 800-662-HELP. There is a list of more than 11,000 treatment programs.
The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry both have tools that can help you find a substance abuse specialist.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America are support organizations with chapters around the country where counseling and referrals are available.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence offers support and a 24-hour referral service at 800-NCA-CALL.
If you feel powerless over drugs or alcohol, remember that you are fighting a disease and you need help. Treatment does work, but it is a lifelong process. Finding the right treatment program can help you start to address your needs and to aim at the medical, emotional, and social parts of your addiction.