Substance Abuse Helplines
Substance abuse is a serious health problem in the United States. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder.1 When compulsive drug or alcohol use begins to encroach upon multiple facets of daily life, you may not know where to turn. Thankfully, resources and treatments are available to help people begin to recover from their addictions and start leading happier, healthier, and more productive lives. While specific medical treatments, behavioral therapies, and support groups participation may make up the bulk of your recovery plan, substance abuse helplines are the places many turn in times of crisis. These addiction helplines can provide you with information about substance abuse and direct you or your loved ones to treatment options.
What is a Substance Abuse Helpline?
Substance abuse helplines are free and confidential sources for information about treatment. They are often operated by treatment facilities and serve as an admissions line as well. However, some are operated by nonprofit and for-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, and insurance companies.
The purpose of these helplines is to connect you with somebody who can confidentially address your concerns and questions about rehab by providing answers about the treatment process and explaining to you the treatment options available to you.
If the helpline you call is operated by a treatment facility, it’s likely that they will see if their facility can help you first. If they cannot for whatever reason, they often provide educational resources to help you find a facility that suits your specific needs.
For example, if you call the American Addiction Centers helpline on this website, our team members can help you determine if one of our facilities will meet your needs. If our facilities are not suitable, we may suggest that you seek a non-AAC facility, or direct you to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.
Who Are Substance Abuse Helplines For?
Substance abuse helplines are intended for anyone who wants to know more about substance addiction or about the recovery process. They can be helpful when you don’t know what steps to take next to get help, such as when you suspect—or know—that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol. However, drugs and alcohol don’t always just impact the person with the addiction; they often affect the entire social structure surrounding that person. Calling if you’re concerned about a friend, coworker, or loved one who may be struggling with an addiction is also common. Substance abuse helplines can also provide you with information related to rehab, such as how to pay for treatment, types of treatment, or rehab facility locations.
Who Will I Speak With?
If the helpline is owned by a facility, you’ll likely speak with a member of their admissions team. For example, when you call our substance abuse helpline, you’ll first speak with an Admissions Navigator. Admissions Navigators are compassionate American Addiction Centers (AAC) team members who will listen to your story, help you create an action plan, and support your journey to starting treatment.
Many of our admissions navigators have achieved sobriety themselves or have supported loved ones through their struggles. They know addiction and can understand and empathize with what you’re going through.
Ultimately, who you will speak with when you call a substance abuse helpline depends on what organization operates the helpline. If the helpline is not owned by a treatment facility, you will likely speak with trained information specialists. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) operates a national helpline staffed by these specialists.
When Should I Call?
The best time to call a substance abuse helpline is when it is most convenient for you. Some free helpline numbers have different hours of operation, but in many cases, they are available 24/7. It’s a good idea to confirm, whenever possible, the operating hours on the hotline or helpline’s website prior to calling.
For example, Our helpline at American Addiction Centers is available 24/7 365 days a year.
Lastly, the most important thing to remember about calling our substance abuse helpline, or any substance abuse helpline for that matter, is that calling a helpline does not mean you are obliged to enter treatment.
Rather, they can serve as valuable information resources to help someone make informed decisions about substance use disorder rehabilitation, providing answers to questions you might have about when and where to seek treatment.
It’s important to understand that a substance abuse helpline or alcohol helpline is not an emergency hotline. Many are not equipped to deal with crisis situations. If you or someone you care about is experiencing an emergency, you should call 911 to access your local first responders or go to the nearest emergency room. If you or a loved one is suicidal, in distress, or talking about self-harm,
Are You Ready to Start Treatment?
Although it can be difficult to admit to having a substance abuse problem, you should realize that admitting the problem is a sign of strength. It’s the first step in getting help and taking back control of your life. Think about the following questions:
- Are drugs and alcohol becoming an unmanageable part of your life?
- Is addiction impacting your professional life, relationships, or health?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, know that treatment has helped many in similar situations begin their recovery. The same applies when you’re worried about a friend or family member. While you can’t force someone to seek help if they’re not ready, you can encourage them and show your support by calling the helpline and researching treatment facilities. If they are resistant to treatment, you can also ask if they would be willing to speak more with their doctor or other healthcare professional about the potential benefits of treatment.2
American Addiction Centers Can Help
American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of both residential and outpatient addiction treatment in the United States. Our treatment focuses on drug addiction, alcohol addiction, as well as dual diagnosis treatment, which is the management of co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder).
We don’t just treat the addiction; we also help you identify the root causes and tackle the reasons you may have developed the addiction, while also addressing any co-occurring mental health treatment needs.
Not Sure How to Get Started?
If you’ve made it through this article, you might still have some remaining questions. Most people at this point are wondering how to start treatment or how the process actually works.
At American Addiction Centers, we understand this is probably a new experience for you and we want you to have all the information you need to feel comfortable getting help. Below are a few guides that outline the admissions process and who you will speak with when you give us a call.