Alcohol Abuse Hotlines
One can rest assured that addiction hotlines are staffed with compassionate individuals who are there to help—a friendly, judgment-free, helpful voice awaits those who call.
Whether you are in the midst of an alcohol-related problem, or if you are acting on behalf of a loved one struggling with alcohol use, a phone call to an addiction helpline is a good way to place yourself in touch with someone experienced with alcohol use and dependency issues. There are many questions concerning drug- and alcohol-related issues that can start to be addressed with a hotline call. Furthermore, hotline staff will be able to connect those in need with a number of treatment centers that treat alcohol use disorders either locally or elsewhere in the country.
Are You Addicted?
Many people experiencing the ill effects of their pattern of drinking wonder if they have a problem that needs professional attention. Hotline staff can often help answer questions like these; for this reason alone, it might be a good idea to make the call. If you are asking yourself similar questions, chances are, at the very least, you are experiencing some difficulties related to alcohol use. For both those questioning the seriousness of an alcohol problem and those who have accepted that a problem exists but are unsure of how to proceed in seeking treatment, a call to a hotline can provide some answers. Hotline information can help one make an informed decision about whether they should be evaluated by a professional for an alcohol use disorder and about whether they should seek further help, such as inpatient alcohol rehab.
Symptoms of an alcohol use disorder include:1
- Often drinking alcohol more or in larger amounts than intended.
- Craving alcohol.
- Persistently wanting to or unsuccessfully trying to decrease or control alcohol use.
- Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from alcohol.
- Using alcohol repeatedly in dangerous situations.
- Continuing using alcohol even though it is causing or worsening trouble with relationships or other social issues.
- Having problems fulfilling important responsibilities at school, work, or home due to regular drinking.
- Stopping or decreasing important activities because of alcohol use.
- Continuing drinking even when knowing that it is likely causing or worsening a physical or psychological problem.
- Experiencing tolerance.
- Going through withdrawal or drinking to avoid/relieve withdrawal.
Dependence is when an individual can only function normally if a drug is present.2 Suddenly stopping alcohol use, or drastically cutting down use suddenly, can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:3
- Mood swings.
- Trouble thinking clearly.
Alcohol withdrawal can be severe and even fatal, so anyone with alcohol withdrawal symptoms should contact a medical provider. If serious symptoms occur (such as fever, seizures, hallucinations, irregular heartbeat, or significant confusion), call 911.3
One does not have to be dependent on alcohol to experience devastating effects of alcohol use. If you think you or a loved one might have a problem with alcohol use and could possibly use the help of a rehab or other professional help, there are numbers you can call to get help.
What Is an Addiction Hotline?
An addiction hotline is, typically, a phone service to help answer questions about addiction. Some hotlines are operated 7 days a week, 24 hours per day. Depending on the agency that maintains the service, a hotline can provide assistance in a number of ways. They might offer general information on the signs and symptoms of alcohol or drug use disorders and/or place the caller in touch with available treatment resources.
One can rest assured that addiction hotlines are staffed with compassionate individuals who are there to help—a friendly, judgment free, helpful voice awaits those who call.
Family and other loved ones, additionally, might use a hotline to research intervention strategies for someone close to them. One can rest assured that addiction hotlines are staffed with compassionate individuals who are there to help—a friendly, judgment free, helpful voice awaits those who call.
Should I Call an Addiction Hotline?
As mentioned before, individuals suffering from alcohol use, as well as their family and friends, might be aware of the issue on some level, but unclear if it has progressed to a point that requires outside help. Waiting to ask those questions, though, gives the problem time to get worse. Calling a hotline could be an all-important first step to find the answers to questions and to start someone on the path to recovery.
What If I'm Afraid to Call?
Obtaining help while in the midst of the chaos that an alcohol use disorder can give rise to can seem like quite a daunting prospect. Often, a call to a hotline is a courageous first step taken in seeking help for alcohol use. There really is nothing to fear in picking up the phone. There are no financial risks or obligations in placing a call.
Obtaining help while in the midst of the chaos that an alcohol use disorder can give rise to can seem like quite a daunting prospect.
The people answering the call are there to help you. Some might take comfort in knowing that they aren't the only ones placing hotline calls; the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which operates its own helpline, reported an average 67,949 calls per month in 2017.4 It's a staggering number and attests to the huge numbers of people in need of more information and possibly treatment referrals.
Here are some national hotline numbers, provided as additional resources for those struggling with alcohol use, other drug use, or other problems that are sometimes connected to addiction.
In the event of an emergency, please call 911.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357)
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Their focus is those with substance use disorders and/or mental illness and their loved ones, and they can provide information and referrals. They also have an online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)
- 1 (800) NCA-CALL (622-2255)
- NCADD's HOPE LINE places those struggling with alcohol and other substance abuse issues in touch with helpful local resources.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255)
- Provides assistance beyond suicide help - including that for alcohol abuse
- Boys Town National Hotline
- 1 (800) 448-3000
- This crisis, resource, and referral line is staffed by people who can provide information about a variety of issues, including alcohol use, and help callers find needed resources. Their hotline is available 24/7.
- National Runaway Safeline
- 1 (800) RUNAWAY (786-2929)
- The Safeline provides help for young people who have run away, are homeless, or are otherwise at-risk. Their helpline is available 24/7.
Preparing to Make the Call
Ready to make a call but unsure what to ask? Questions may differ depending on if you are speaking to someone on a general hotline or to someone working for a specific treatment facility. When speaking to someone at ageneral hotline, consider questions such as:
- How can I find a reputable treatment center? (Staff at the hotline you call should be able to provide you with information to help you determine the type of program that may work best for you and the types of facilities that can provide that care.)
- What resources are in my area? (The hotline staff may be able to direct you to both public and private programs near you.)
- What does treatment usually entail? (Many people seeking help for the first time don't know what to expect. Make sure to ask the hotline staff any questions you have as knowing more about what generally happens during treatment may help you feel more comfortable about going.)
As for speaking to someone associated with specific facilities, questions you might want to ask could include:
- Will my insurance pay for treatment? (Have your card ready so that you can give as much information as needed to determine your coverage).
- What types of treatment are available?
- How long does treatment typically take?
- Will I have to go through detox?
- Where are you located?
These lists are only a small sample of questions you might have. It may be helpful to take a couple minutes to assemble your own list of personal questions before you call.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2007). The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019). MedlinePlus: Alcohol withdrawal.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). SAMHSA’s National Helpline: Frequently Asked Questions.