There is a current epidemic involving the use of narcotics in the United States. Pain-relieving, euphoria-inducing opiates such as morphine, oxycodone, heroin, and others are misused every day. The result is a spike in the number of overdoses and deaths among narcotics users.1
If you are struggling with an addiction to narcotics, you are not alone. You can call a hotline at any time for help and information. The person on the other end of the line can assist you in finding lifesaving resources and get you into treatment. All calls to a narcotics hotline are private and confidential, so you can feel safe knowing that none of your information will be shared.
What Should I Ask When I Call?
Depending on your situation, you may have specific questions about treatment. For example, if you are struggling with a mental health disorder and you are addicted to narcotics, you may want to ask what types of treatment are available for co-occurring disorders.
Other questions could include:
- Can I get addicted to medication that is prescribed to me?
- How do I know if I need help?
- Do I need detox?
- What resources are available near me?
- What are the next steps in getting help for a narcotics addiction?
- Are there community programs I can look into while I wait for treatment?
If you are a loved one or a family member of someone who is addicted to narcotics, you might have a lot of questions about what to do. By calling a helpline, you can get answers to your questions and find an appropriate solution. As a concerned loved one, your questions might include:
- How do I talk to my loved one about their substance abuse?
- Are there stress reduction techniques that I can practice during this time?
- Are there places where I can seek support as a loved one?
- What are the next steps in the process of getting my loved one to seek help?
Remember, the operator on the other end might have questions for you, as well. For example, if you call a rehab center or a hotline specializing in locating treatment options, you may be asked questions like:
- When can you start treatment?
- Do you have insurance? How will you pay for treatment?
- Do you want to stay in your location or travel for care?
- Have you attended treatment before this?
- Do you want to use medications as part of your treatment (e.g., methadone or Suboxone)?
What Should I Prepare?
If you're calling for yourself, the answers to any of the operator's questions will likely come easily because you know your history of substance abuse, but if you're calling for someone else, it may be more difficult to come up with this information offhand. It can help to gather the following info about the addicted person's history before calling:
- Any current major medical concerns, such as the existence of any serious diseases, viruses, or infections (e.g., hepatitis, HIV, kidney failure, etc.)
- History of substance use (duration and usual dose taken, if you know)
- Existence of any co-occurring mental health disorders
- How the person will get to treatment, if they accept help
- Any physical disabilities or limitations prospective facilities need to know about
- Whether the person has been violent toward others or has harmed themselves
- Whether the person is currently suicidal
Staff at the hotline may also inquire about the person's insurance information, so having a current insurance card on hand will be valuable during the call. Treatment is often covered at least in part by insurance.
Should I Call a Narcotics Helpline?
If you are at all concerned about your substance abuse or that of your loved one, calling a hotline is a good idea. Your call will be answered by someone who can listen, provide treatment information, offer support, and refrain from any judgment of your situation.
In addition to finding more information about narcotics addiction and getting much-needed support, you might also call a helpline for assistance in:
- Finding a rehab center.
- Learning about therapies used in treatment.
- Locating available community or 12-step groups in your area.
What if I’m Too Afraid to Call?
Dealing with a substance use disorder can be scary, especially if you feel like you don’t have the support you need to overcome your addiction. But, you might be surprised at how many people are available and ready to support you in getting sober.
Addiction is often characterized by intense feelings of shame and secrecy. Many addicted individuals hide their substance abuse from those closest to them and retreat into isolation. The perceived stigma of substance abuse is often the cause of this and can make it difficult to reach out for help. Remember, when you call a narcotics helpline, the responders on the call want the best for you and will not see you simply as an addict but rather as someone whose life is worth living and who can get clean with help.
Even if it is for 1 minute, 5 minutes, or an hour, talking to a stranger who is objective about your situation and will take you seriously is an extremely important step in recovery.
Hotlines are important resources because, at some point, you will probably want to talk to someone about what you’re going through. Even if it is for 1 minute, 5 minutes, or an hour, talking to a stranger who is objective about your situation and will take you seriously is an extremely important step in recovery. If you are feeling lonely, confused, or depressed, you can always call a helpline where call center specialists will not only listen, but respond with helpful suggestions on next steps. Hotlines include:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): This is a resource for anyone struggling with a mental health or substance abuse disorder. 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids: A nonprofit that provides supports to families that are struggling with substance abuse. 1-855-DRUG-FREE (378-4373).
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: You can call this helpline any hour of the day for suicide prevention support. 1-800-273-8255.
It takes courage, determination, and strength to reach out for help. Helplines offer tools and support to encourage recovery. Talking to someone at a call center can make a huge difference in your life. These hotlines are open 24/7 and you can reach them at any time:
If you are in an emergency situation, such as an overdose, do not call a helpline. Call 911 immediately.
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD): This hotline will provide information and referrals to appropriate resources in your community. 1-800-NCA-CALL (622-2255).
- Boys Town National Hotline: You can reach specially trained counselors for support at any time by calling this hotline. 1-800-448-3000.
- Covenant House Teen Hotline: If you feel unsafe or you don’t know where to turn, you can call this hotline at any time. You can visit their website for United States, Canada, and Latin America location hotlines.
- National Runaway Safeline (NRS): If you are seeking assistance, the NRS hotline can provide you with a number of resources. 1-800-RUNAWAY
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Understanding the Epidemic.