Prescription drug abuse is a serious concern that impacts the health and well-being of the people abusing the drugs, as well as their family and friends. Consistent abuse of prescription drugs like opioid painkillers (e.g., oxycodone), stimulants (e.g., Adderall), and benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax) leads to physical dependence and addiction, which makes ending use extremely challenging, distressing, and sometimes even hazardous 1,2,3.
Addiction may feel insurmountable, but there is a way out. Professional substance abuse treatment can provide the help you need to detox from and stop using drugs, and it can begin with one phone call to a prescription drug abuse hotline 1,4. These private and confidential hotlines can answer any questions you may have about getting help for addiction and assist you in finding the right treatment option.
Struggling with prescription drug abuse can be isolating and confusing, but the operator at the other end of a prescription drug helpline can guide you through what may very well be the most important decision of your life.In recent years, our country has seen an alarming rise of prescription drug abuse.
The price to society is a high one.
What Questions Should I Ask?
When you pick up the phone to call a prescription drug hotline, there are many questions to consider asking like 4:
- Can I become addicted to drugs prescribed by my doctor?
- What if I take the prescription drugs for a medical condition?
- Are these drugs safer than illicit drugs?
- How do I know if I need treatment?
- How do I look for treatment? Where do I start?
- What can happen if I don’t go to treatment?
- Is it possible to get clean on my own?
- How long does treatment usually last?
Prescription drug hotlines can provide helpful information to loved ones, as well. If your friend or family member is having issues with prescription drug abuse, a hotline may have answers to questions like 4:
- What are the signs that my loved one is addicted?
- Can I visit the treatment center with my loved one?
- Will treatment address other mental health issues?
- What happens if someone refuses treatment?
- Can I force someone into treatment?
The hotline may ask you some questions as well, such as:
- What types of drugs are you using?
- How long have you been using them?
- Have you tried to quit? What happened?
- Do you want to quit using?
- Have you ever had thoughts of hurting yourself?
- Do you have any co-occurring mental health conditions? Are they being treated?
- Are you ready to start your recovery?
Should I Call a Prescription Drug Addiction Helpline?
Denial is a huge problem that often keeps people from getting the help they need.
Denial is a huge problem that often keeps people from getting the help they need; it’s extremely common among people who abuse prescription drugs. This is especially true for people who began taking the drugs with prescriptions from their doctors for a medical need. They may think that even while they increase their doses that they have their use under control, or they may be under the impression that it’s impossible to become addicted to a drug they’ve been prescribed. Realistically, if you’re taking more than you’ve been prescribed, taking it in ways other than prescribed, or taking it without medical approval, you are abusing it and you may indeed be addicted. Whether you’re sure you have a problem or if you’ve just noticed that prescription drugs are beginning to cause negative effects in your life, a hotline can help you discover the best next steps.
Consider calling a prescription drug hotline if 4:
- You have been using increasing amounts of your prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.
- You have been buying, selling, or trading your medication with others.
- Maintaining your duties at work, school, or home has been more difficult.
- People in your life have been complaining about your use.
- You are curious about programs, services, and recovery options.
- You are ready to start treatment.
Remember, you can call a hotline if you’re concerned about someone you care about. It may be time to call if someone close to you is 4:
- Spending a lot of time thinking about drugs.
- Acting erratic or odd.
- Continuing to use the drug regardless of the mounting ill effects they are causing in their life.
- Their attempts to stop using have failed.
- They’ve hinted to you that they may be ready to stop using.
Do not put pressure on yourself to make the “right” choice or worrying that calling is the “wrong” decision. Calling a prescriptions drug abuse helpline is a safe, responsible choice and may be the action that saves your life or that of someone you love.
I’m Too Afraid to Call
Despite the many benefits of calling a hotline, people may allow fear, suspicion, or hesitancy to stop them. You might be worried that calling a hotline will result in unwanted consequences like:
- Law enforcement learning about your use.
- Being forced to stop your medications.
- Losing your job.
- Losing the trust of your loved one (if calling for someone else).
But fear only serves to separate you from the treatment you need. Just as it takes courage to commit to a treatment program, it takes courage to begin the process with a call to a helpline. You can rest assured, however, that it is only a phone call and you don’t have to commit to anything right away.
When you’re thinking of calling a prescription drug hotline, remember:
- The call is private and confidential. No one will learn about it unless you want them to.
- A call is only a consultation. It does not imply that you consent to treatment.
- You can disclose only the information that you are comfortable revealing.
- You can call multiple times if you feel uncomfortable or your situation changes.
- The person at the other end cares and will speak with you as long as you need in order to figure out the best path forward towards your recovery.
Calling any substance abuse helpline is the first step toward getting out of the destructive cycle of prescription drug use. When you call, the representative will gather some basic information about your situation and suggest available treatments that seem to fit your situation. Be honest; the representative will never judge you or your situation.
Addiction can make you feel alone, but calling a helpline can remind you that you’re not. There are people who care that want to see you get the help you need.
Who Can I Call?
For information about treatment options and for help finding a place to go, you may call our helpline. Our treatment support specialists are available to talk to you any time of day and to assist you in taking the next step toward recovery.
Other reputable numbers you can call for general information about prescription drug abuse and addiction, as well as treatment programs, include:
If you’re in an overdose situation, don’t call a helpline. Call 911! In the case of drug overdose, especially respiratory depressants like opioids and benzodiazepines, overdose can be deadly. Call for emergency assistance right away.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-4357. The hotline offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is free and available 24 hours a day. It can link you to treatment for substance issues and mental health concerns 4.
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids – 1-855-DRUGFREE. A resource for parents and loved ones with children or adolescents that struggle with addiction. This service is available during regular business hours with a “live chat” support on the weekends 5.
- Boys Town National Hotline – 1-800-448-3000. Open 24/7, this hotline aids kids and families experiencing relationship problems, thoughts of suicide, and addiction 6.
- National Runaway Safe Line – 1-800-RUNAWAY. With call, chat, and email support, this hotline provides assistance to parents, children, and adolescents living in unhealthy situations 7.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255. No matter the cause of distress, this lifeline can suggest resources for you and your loved ones 8.
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – 1-800-622-2255. This organization offers a 24-hour referral line that can connect you or your loved one to drug treatment 9.
Before calling, be sure to prepare your insurance information, if you have it. It will be helpful to have your card on hand. Also, be sure to ask about your financing options for treatment, as your insurance may not cover all of your treatment stay. You might also want to prepare a list of questions you have about treatment.
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008). What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families.
4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs.
5. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. (n.d.). Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
6. Boys Town. (n.d.). Hotline.
7. National Runaway Safeline. (n.d.). National Runaway Safeline.
8. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (n.d). Talk to Someone Now.
9. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (n.d.). Get Immediate Help.