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Finding the Right Program for Substance Abuse

The biggest myth about drug and alcohol rehabilitation is that treatment doesn’t work. And believing that myth may be one reason that finding the right treatment program seems so hard. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of the 23.2 million people who need alcohol or drug treatment, only about 1 in 6 people make it into a rehab facility.

Another myth that persists despite overwhelming evidence is that substance abuse is just a matter of choice. The truth is, drug addiction and alcohol addiction are chronic diseases that can be treated as successfully as many other chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes.

How do you know if you need treatment?

Although you may have had a choice when you first started using drugs or alcohol, after a while these drugs actually change the structure and functioning of your brain. Once you have the disease of addiction, the urge to use the addictive substance becomes so powerful that you may continue using it without considering the consequences.

You need to ask for help if you continue to use drugs or alcohol despite problems with your health, your job or education, or your relationships. Another warning sign is needing more drugs or alcohol to get the same pleasurable effect as when you first started using these substances.

Finding the right treatment program

Treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. These factors may affect your program choice:

  • 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

Where to go for help

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 are rarely successful. The best treatment programs offer multiple services over an extended 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:

If you feel powerless over drugs or alcohol, remember that you are fighting a chronic 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 individual needs and target the medical, emotional, and social components of your addiction. 

Last Reviewed Date: 08/25/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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