The biggest myth about drug and alcohol rehab (rehabilitation) is that treatment doesn’t work. Believing that may be one reason that finding the right treatment program seems so hard.
Another myth is that substance abuse is just a matter of choice. The truth is that drug and alcohol addiction are long-lasting diseases. They can be treated as successfully as many other long-lasting diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes.
You may have had a choice when you first started using drugs or alcohol. But over time, 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 gets very strong. You may keep using it without thinking about what could happen.
These are warning signs that you need to ask for help:
You keep using drugs or alcohol even after having problems with your health, your job or education, or your relationships.
You need more drugs or alcohol to get the same good 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 gender
The substance you’re abusing
Your health history, including mental health problems
The cost of treatment
Your insurance coverage
Your social support
The first step is admitting you have a problem and 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. These services often include family education and support. Studies show that anything less than 90 days is often not long enough.
Here are some resources that can help you take the next steps:
Your healthcare 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's treatment locator can help you find a drug and alcohol treatment center near you. Visit its website or call 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357).
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 offer support groups and educational programs. They have chapters around the country with counseling and referrals.
You may feel powerless over drugs or alcohol. But remember that you are fighting a disease and you need help. Treatment does work, but it's a lifelong process. Finding the right treatment program can help you start to address your needs. It can also help you focus on the health, emotional, and social parts of your addiction.