Getting Drug Addiction Help
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs, there are resources available that may be able to help.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline provides free, confidential help 24/7 in English and Spanish to individuals and families dealing with drug addiction and other substance use disorders.
To contact SAMHSA, call 800-662-HELP or TTY 1-800-487-4889.
SAMHSA can help you locate drug addiction treatment near you and connect you to support groups and community-based organizations.
To find drug addiction treatment facilities near you, you can also use SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or send your zip code in a text message to 435748 (HELP4U).
You can search specifically for buprenorphine practitioners or opioid treatment programs, outpatient facilities, or telehealth therapy.
“Getting help is essential to recovery.”
– Cleveland Clinic
Some people addicted to dangerous drugs also find self-help groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) beneficial. You can use the NA website to find meetings throughout the U.S.
You can also talk to your medical provider or a mental health professional if you need help with a drug addiction but don’t know what to do.
For more drug addiction help, check out SAMHSA’s website. The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine has addiction resources geared toward teenagers and young adults, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has information on substance use treatment for veterans.
What Is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction — also called substance use disorder — is a persistent, debilitating disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior.
“Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.”
– National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Drug addiction is considered a mental health condition. A person addicted to dangerous drugs has a pattern of substance use that usually causes problems in their life. For example, they may be unable to keep a job or maintain relationships.
Three general characteristics of drug addiction are:
- An overpowering desire to use the drug
- Increased tolerance to the drug
- Withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug is stopped
- Young males are most at risk of substance use disorders.
- A class of drugs called opioids are responsible for the largest number of drug-related overdoses and deaths.
- More than 1,500 people in the U.S. die every week from some type of opioid.
- Since 2000, more than 1 million Americans have died of drug overdoses.
- U.S. military veterans are twice as likely as the general public to die from an opioid overdose.
How to Help a Loved One Addicted to Dangerous Drugs
It can be excruciating to watch a friend or relative struggle with a drug addiction. If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt wondering what you can do to help.
As the person who knows your loved one best, you may be able to convince them to seek treatment.
“Most people who are in recovery say they got help because a friend or relative was honest with them about their drinking or drug use.
– University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC)
Here are 4 tips from URMC for talking to a loved one about a drug addiction:
- Don’t try to talk to the person when they are high.
- Tell the person about the toll their addiction is taking on whatever they care about most like their children or career.
- Prepare yourself for different reactions — from anger to sadness — and leave the meeting if you need to.
- Learn about treatment and recovery resources in your area, including NA meetings.
Regardless of whether your loved one decides to get help, think about getting support for yourself. There are different support groups for family and friends of people addicted to dangerous drugs. Nar-Anon, for example, is a program for people affected by someone else’s addiction. The group holds in-person and virtual meetings.
Signs of Drug Addiction
Signs of drug addiction can vary from person to person and the drug(s) involved.
Someone who is addicted to dangerous drugs may:
- Have intense urges for the drug
- Need more of the drug over time to achieve the same effect
- Spend money on the drug, even if they can’t afford it
- Stop spending time with family and friends
- Continue to take the drug even when they know it’s causing harm
- Engage in risky behavior when under the influence
- Experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using
Signs and symptoms of addiction to opioid painkillers may include:
- Coordination problems
- Needle marks (if injecting drugs)
- Runny nose (if snorting drugs)
- Slurred speech
Family members may notice these additional signs of a possible drug addiction:
- Changes in behavior
- Lack of interest in grooming or appearance
- Money issues, including sudden requests for money or money missing at home
- Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, lack of energy, or red eyes
- Problems at school or work
Call 911 if someone you know has taken a drug and may have overdosed. Signs of a drug overdose include confusion, loss of consciousness, and vomiting.
Drug Addiction Treatment
There are several different types of treatment for drug addiction. Treatment is often long-term as substance use disorder is a chronic condition.
The 3 main types of drug addiction treatment are:
- Detoxification: The person stops taking the dangerous drug(s) and may take an alternative substance to help with withdrawal.
- Cognitive and behavioral therapies: Talk therapies can help treat co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety and depression and teach coping techniques.
- Medication: Medications can help change a person’s brain chemistry to treat drug addiction. They can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to treat opioid use disorder.
All three types of drug addiction treatment can take place in an outpatient setting or as part of inpatient or residential treatment. Some people live in sober living communities and get long-term therapeutic care there.
Even though drug addiction is a lifelong disease, people can recover and lead full, rewarding lives. Getting treatment as soon as possible — and sticking with it — can help people addicted to dangerous drugs enter recovery.
If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, consider reaching out to a treatment center or another addiction resource for help today.
Addicted Drugs FAQS
What is drug addiction in easy words?
Drug addiction is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and makes them unable to control their use of a drug.
What are 4 common symptoms of addiction?
Symptoms of addiction vary depending on the person and the drug involved.
However, people addicted to dangerous drugs like opioids may experience:
- Memory problems
- Slurred speech
What are the most addictive drugs?
It’s difficult to say what the most addictive drug is.
That said, researchers generally agree that these classes of drugs are among the most addictive:
- Opioids (OxyContin, fentanyl, and heroin)
- Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, cocaine, and methamphetamine)
- Barbiturates (phenobarbital and secobarbital)
- Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, and Ativan)
What are some drugs for addiction?
There are various medications used to treat drug addiction. For example, buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid addiction. They can help prevent cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Naloxone, often known by the brand name Narcan, is an FDA-approved medication that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid use disorder, it’s a good idea to carry it with you and keep it at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on naloxone and how to get it.