Substance Abuse Helplines
Drug addiction is a serious illness that affects people from all walks of life. Fortunately, help is available. Drug use hotlines are an excellent resource for many with questions about addiction and potential treatment.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.7 million individuals fought a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2017.1 While there are many people struggling with SUDs, those living with addiction can recover and remain sober.
Hotline Questions: Am I Addicted to Drugs?
Addiction is different for each person living with the disease. However, certain indicators are common among substance users, including:2,3
- An inability to stop using the drug.
- Spending a lot more time alone than normal.
- Spending a lot of time in obtaining, using, or recovering from a drug.
- Sleeping at odd hours.
- Having trouble maintaining healthy relationships.
- Neglecting responsibilities.
- Losing interest in their favorite activities.
- Experiencing an increased tolerance to the drug (needing more to experience the effects).
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- Engaging in illegal activities to obtain the drug.
These are some of the signs of drug addiction, but they are not the only ones. If you suspect someone you love is misusing drugs because of any major change in behavior, a helpline can assist you.
What Is a Drug Use Hotline?
A drug use helpline is usually a toll-free number that has been established for the specific purpose of providing information related to addiction and treatment. Those addicted to alcohol or illegal or prescription drugs can call the telephone number and receive information on substance use, treatment facilities, and other drug-related topics.4
Loved ones can call and find out more about addiction, as well as inpatient rehabilitation and other care options. Drug use hotlines are generally available 24 hours a day and are staffed with caring and knowledgeable individuals who want to help.
Calls are anonymous, and you do not have to provide personal information. Hotlines are staffed by supportive personnel. You will not be scolded, judged, or reprimanded for drug use.
Hotline Questions: What Are My Treatment Options?
Many approaches have been successful in the treatment of drug use and addiction:5,6
- Behavioral therapy is designed to help the addicted individual learn the skills needed to make meaningful change. Through therapy, they'll learn the ways their maladaptive thoughts and beliefs keefp them using, and they'll develop problem-solving skills and techniques that can be used to avoid drug use in the future.
- Programs involving 12 steps are effective in helping people stay sober. These programs rely on social support, fellowship, and spirituality.
- Motivational interviewing helps the recovering individual develop their own motivations to remain sober and create plans to stay away from drugs or alcohol.
- Contingency management uses positive reinforcements and rewards to encourage patients to remain drug free.
- Medication is useful in some cases to block the effects of drugs of use, relieve cravings, or alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
- Alternative methods of treatment are also available. Holistic treatments include acupuncture, meditation, and yoga. Equine therapy, wilderness programs, and art or music therapy are also provided at some rehab centers.
Drug addiction has many causes, and a variety of approaches may be needed to treat the ailing individual. Programs are tailored to each patient, and there is something for everyone.
Should I Call a Hotline?
Some individuals falsely feel in control of their drug use.
Many addicted individuals are unaware of the problem. Dependence can happen gradually, and some individuals falsely feel in control of their drug use. You can benefit from the information provided by a drug use helpline even if you are not sure whether you have a problem. You may be addicted and not realize the severity of the problem.
If you suspect a family member is using or addicted to illicit or prescription drugs, you have more options than you may realize. Someone is available to talk to you and provide assistance any time of the day.
It is never too late to make the call. All of your questions will be answered, and the information you receive could be life-saving.
What Happens When I Call?
When you call a drug use hotline, a trained staff member will provide information on a wide variety of topics.
- Signs of drug addiction
- Treatment options
- Helping a loved one
- Inpatient facilities
- Outpatient clinics
- Choosing a treatment center
When you call, make sure to ask whatever questions you have. You won't be judged. You can ask about anything from signs of an addiction to how to find a rehab center near you.
If you're interested in treatment options and you have insurance, keep your information ready. Prospective programs may ask about your coverage. In many cases, private insurance will cover some or all of your addiction treatment. Payment options like financing, loans, and sliding scales often help to offset the remaining cost.
What If I Am Afraid to Call?
Making the call to a drug use hotline can seem overwhelming. Picking up the phone takes courage, and it is the first step towards healing.
Helplines are staffed by specialists who want to see you or loved one recover. They are dedicated to providing helpful information, treatment options, and answers.
Addiction is a disorder that can affect anyone. You will not be judged, and you can call as many times as you need. Supportive individuals are standing by right now to assist you. It can be difficult to make the telephone call, but you can do it. There are no risks or obligations.
You can get help and recover, even if you have tried unsuccessfully in the past.
Additional Drug Abuse Hotline Resources
The following hotline numbers are presented here as additional resources. If you are facing an immediate crisis, please call emergency services at 911.
- Boys Town National Hotline
- 1 (800) 448-3000
- Crisis and resource line staffed by counselors to provide information about a variety of issues, including chemical dependency.
- Covenant House Teen Hotline (NineLine)
- 1 (800) 999-9999
- General hotline for adolescents, teens and their families. Assistance with any kind of problem—including alcohol and drug use. Covenant House specializes in homeless and runaway youth.
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)
- 1 (800) NCA-CALL (622-2255)
- NCADD’s HOPE LINE directs callers to numerous affiliate programs around the country to assist, at a local level, with substance use issues.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357)
- National agency dedicated to prevention of drug use, and treatment of existing drug problems. You can get around-the-clock help in finding local drug treatment centers.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline
- 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357)
- 1 (800) 487-4889 (TDD) for hearing impaired
- Confidential information service for individuals and family members faced with substance use disorders and/or mental health issues. Information available in English and Spanish.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255)
- Not just a suicide hotline, this lifeline offers help with issues of drug and alcohol use.
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
- 1 (855) DRUG-FREE (378-4373)
- While not a crisis line, this hotline provides information to parents about adolescent and teen drug use, prevention, and treatment.
Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov’. Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find and should provide further phone contacts for assistance.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). What are some signs and symptoms of someone with a drug use problem?
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The Nation's Number One Health Problem.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Behavioral Therapies.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.