Do You Have A Problem With Substance Abuse?

It can affect any age, race, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, religious background or ethnicity. No one is immune to the possibility of becoming enslaved to a substance.


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Much of the ideas and information in these questions and answers were borrowed from American Psychiatric Association,, Public Justice Report, Teen Challenge. See below for the original document source.

  • How do I know if I need help?

    Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you’re addicted to a substance, and you may be wondering if you need professional help. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines the signs of a substance use order. You might be addicted and need help if:

    • You often take the substance in larger amounts or for longer durations than originally intended.
    • You have consistently failed to quit taking the substance or cut back.
    • You spend an inordinate amount of time getting the drug, using it, and recovering from its adverse effects.
    • You have a strong craving or urge to use the substance.
    • You fail to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home because of the substance use.
    • You consistently use the substance regardless of negative consequences or problems worsened or caused by use.
    • You abandon work, pleasurable, or social activities in favor of substance use.
    • Use of the drug in a dangerous situation, such as driving a car.
    • You continue using even when physical or psychological problems result from use.
    • You have become tolerant to the substance. (You need to take higher doses in order to achieve the desired effect and/or you experience less of a “buzz” or “high” when taking the same amount.
    • You have withdrawal symptoms when not using.

    Reference: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Print.

  • What is the National Substance Abuse Helpline on the In-N-Out Burger Bags?

    The 1-800-662-HELP (4357) National Substance Abuse Helpline (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Anyone who calls this number may speak to someone in English or Spanish. The helpline is designed for individuals and family members facing substance use and/or mental disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

  • Is it true that you can be addicted to more than one substance/behavior at a time?

    Yes, and in fact this is common. Those who have an addiction are also likely to have what are called “co-occurring disorders,” such as a mental health issue(s) like depression or anxiety. It is common for people to have more than one substance or process/behavior addiction. Research clearly links substance use to problems with gambling, video gaming, disordered eating, Internet use and compulsive sexual behavior. Not every addict has multiple addictions or another psychological problem, but in general, there is a lot of overlap between these issues.


  • What if I have a mental health issue (like depression), too?

    First, if you’re struggling with addiction and a mental disorder, you’re definitely not alone; many people are in the same situation. If you decide to seek treatment, it’s essential that whatever program you choose addresses both issues at the same time. Treatment that factors in both addiction and mental health will give you the best possible chance for a successful, lasting recovery.


  • How can I find a treatment center for my type of addiction?

    Once you’re diagnosed with an addiction, your physician or counselor may strongly recommend a type of treatment center based on your needs — whether inpatient, outpatient or day treatment. That recommendation should help you to start researching options. SAMHSA’s directory is one resource to try; you can also reach them by calling 1-800-662-HELP. You may inquire about additional resources for recommendations from your health insurance company, friends and family. Keep in mind that if you’re choosing inpatient treatment, there are faith based programs like Teen Challenge and the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers that are available at little to no charge. Also, you may not need to stay close to home and can broaden your search to include inpatient treatment centers across the country.


  • Do I really need to attend a treatment program? Can’t I just go to 12-step meetings?

    Do what works. Millions of lives have been changed with the help of AA and similar self-help support groups for other types of addiction. There are certainly people who start attending 12-step meetings and find that the support, information and camaraderie there is enough to help them start and stick with sobriety. However, many find they need a more intensive treatment and the help of credentialed professionals. For example, if a person is dealing with complex and/or multiple addictions or a mental health issue; if a doctor has recommended professional treatment for the addiction; or if a person has relapsed and wants to try something else — there are lots of options to suit various needs and situations. Most treatment programs will include some version of a 12-step program, in addition to individual, group/family counseling and/or medication therapy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behavioral therapy (and sometimes medication), can become important elements of an overall therapeutic process that often begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention. This multifaceted approach helps address every aspect of your addiction, giving you the best shot at living a healthy, happy life in recovery.


  • What does it mean to “treat the whole person?”

    A holistic model (i.e. treating the whole person) of drug and alcohol recovery means that the program is concerned with pursuing health in 5 areas of the person: physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual. These programs endeavor to help people become physically well, mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, and spiritually alive. Mainstream or secular rehabilitation centers often completely leave out one (or more) of the above areas, especially in regard to spirituality and religion.

    TIME writer David Sheff (who almost lost his son to drug addiction), spoke to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance. Mr. Sheff ask about the success of the mainstream programs in the US. Califano told Sheff, “The therapeutic community claims a 30% success rate, but they only count people who complete the program.” Califano adds that the other 70-80 % have dropped out by the 3-6 month marker.*

    In contrast Wilder Research (an independent evaluator), sampled and conducted one-year follow-up telephone interviews with graduates from one of the faith based rehabilitation programs, Teen Challenge. In total, a representative sample of nearly 60% of those graduates were interviewed by Wilder Research staff. Their findings reveal that 74% of graduates reported no use in the six months prior to follow-up, while 62% of graduates reported no relapses since graduation nor use in the past six months.**

    An additional study pointing to the influence of religion can be found in a study of New York prisoners who had taken part in Prison Fellowship Bible studies. These inmates showed to have a much lower recidivism rate than a matched group of prisoners who had not taken part in Bible Studies. Of those who took part in 10 Bible studies, 14% were rearrested within a year of their release, while among the matched group of those who had not taken part, 41% were rearrested. Similarly in a Texas program run by Prison Fellowship, of the 80 prisoners who have thus far participated, 5% were back in prison.*

    Reference: * Paragraph taken from Monsma, Stephen V. Are Faith-Based Programs More Effective? Public Justice Report, Second Quarter, 2001.
    **This paragraph taken from Wilder Research Results Summary

  • How can I afford to pay for treatment?

    While addiction treatment can carry a hefty price tag, there are also many low- or no-cost options. Self-help support groups, for example, are free and available for all sorts of addictions either in-person or online. (These include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Marijuana Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Food Addicts Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous, to name a few.) They are offered nearly everywhere with dozens of locations and times — and you can attend as many meetings as you’d like. Treatment for mental health and substance abuse is also likely covered by your insurance — and without restrictive co-pays, deductibles and visit limits, thanks to the new Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, most major insurers and Medicaid are required to cover services for mental health and substance abuse care as one of 10 “essential health benefits” categories. They must be covered at parity (equal cost) with other health issues and insurance companies can’t deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, including drug or alcohol dependence. That said, coverage can vary by plan and state, so it’s important to call your insurance company to find out the specifics of your plan. For more information on ACA, visit those without health insurance, many treatment facilities and healthcare providers offer sliding scale fees, or fees based on your income. Some treatment centers even offer financing options (through their own facility or through third-party lenders). To learn more about payment options, try the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This free tool offers payment information for each of the treatment services listed, including information on sliding-fee scales and payment assistance. You can also contact your state substance abuse agency to find out if your state will help pay for substance abuse treatment. For more information, visit Paying for Treatment.


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