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Finding the right rehab 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 rehabilitation 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 3.9 million 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 rehab program

Rehab isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. To be successful, a treatment program must address the medical, psychological, and social components that are part of the disease. These factors may influence treatment:

  • Your age

  • The substance you’re abusing

  • Your gender

  • Your medical problems

  • Your mental health

  • Your financial situation

  • 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 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 rehabilitation 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 rehab center near you by visiting its website or calling 800-662-HELP. The locator lists more than 11,000 treatment programs.

  • The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry both have doctor locator 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 chronic disease and you need help. Treatment does work, but it is a lifelong process. Finding the right rehabilitation program can help you start to address your individual needs and target the medical, emotional, and social components of your addiction.  

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©2010 Main Line Health. By using This Web site, you accept these terms of use. Please read our privacy statement. The Web site for Main Line Health, its contents and programs, is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice nor is it intended to create any physician-patient relationship. Please remember that this information should not substitute for a visit or a consultation with a health care provider. The views or opinions expressed in the resources provided do not necessarily reflect those of Main Line Health or its staff.

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