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Finding the right help for drug addiction

This page outlines where to get help for drug addiction in your local community by explaining what addiction treatment is and what it isn't.

Recently, I met with a distraught father whose high school daughter was addicted to cocaine. He said that no one would help her because they all said that cocaine is not addictive. As a mental health counselor, I was dumbfounded, how could ANY professional treatment center say that cocaine was not addictive? It made no sense to me?

Then I asked him, where you trying to get her help for drug addiction or were you trying to help her help for drug withdrawal? This poor father didn't know the difference, and I thought why would he? It made me realize that in order to get help from the local addiction treatment facilities, you have to know how to use the right terminology to ask for it.

He should have been looking for in-patient addiction TREATMENT services NOT addiction withdrawal support services. You don't need medical supervision to withdraw from cocaine but you certainly DO need addiction treatment services to help to end your cocaine addiction.

Alcohol and heroin/opiates are currently the most common forms of addictions. Because of that, many treatment centers FOCUS on medically supervised withdrawal support as the primary service that they offer. These treatment centers will not be helpful for those addicted to cocaine or marijuana. Had this concerned father understood the terminology, he would have more likely have found the treatment center his daughter needed.

Useful terminology for getting help for drug addiction

1. Withdrawal and detox treatment centers

During the early stages of addiction recovery, treatment centers can provide services that assist with withdrawal. These treatment centers do short-term, medically supervised addiction withdrawal for alcohol, opiates and possibly methamphetamine. They can be VERY pricey and usually have relatively short inpatient stays (5-7 days). Their goal is to get the addict through early withdrawal but not to be a full-service addiction treatment center.

2. Full-service Inpatient addiction treatment centers

Inpatient treatment centers can either be a detox center (as listed above) or a full-service treatment center or both. This is what causes quite a bit of the confusion  when selecting which center to choose.

Full-service treatment centers will usually support all types of drug or alcohol addiction. Will have longer, less-expensive lengths of stay (30-60 days). Are a good option so that the addict begins to get addiction treatment while going through the early withdrawal process.

3. Outpatient addiction treatment

These centers often have multiple options including intensive day treatment which meets everyday. Or a weekly schedule of individual and group counseling that allows you to choose what works best for your schedule.

They are significantly less expensive, but can also but significantly less effective. The incidence of relapse in the early stages of withdrawal increases SIGNIFICANTLY when using outpatient treatment. The lower cost isn't necessarily helpful because the addict has to keep starting over after relapse.

4. 12-step groups

AA and NA and many churches (Celebrate Recovery an excellent program offered through churches) offer 12-step groups that meet weekly and are free of charge. Going to different meeting everyday as an addict is learning to quit can be VERY beneficial. Millions of people have obtained and sustained sobriety using the 12-steps. The saying goes, the steps work if you work them, it's kind of that simple. Many people also combine daily 12-step attendance with outpatient or inpatient treatment. This combination can be extremely effective to help overcome and addiction.

and Finally Remember:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8


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