Drug and alcohol addiction are confusing subjects, so you are going to have a lot of questions. Find answers to 10 of my frequently asked questions below.
Can you legally force a family member into rehab?
I get this question a lot. The short answer is no. However, it varies by state. In some states, you can never legally force a person into rehab. This is different from mental illness, where you actually can commit someone if they are a threat to themselves or to others.
In most situations, I find that the person is (at first) willing to go to rehab, but quickly changes their mind. This happens because they start experiencing withdrawal symptoms and start craving drugs or alcohol.
How can I find the right drug rehab center?
There are so many things to consider. In my experience, the biggest battle is getting a commitment from the person with the addiction. Concentrate on that and let the rest fall into place.
It is the willingness that will determine the success of recovery.
How long will a person have to stay in a rehabilitation center?
That depends on a few factors. Most will stay for a few days in detox and continue to inpatient treatment for at least 30 days. Staying for 90 days is better.
If a person has been to rehab before and they had a relapse, then they might need to travel out of state or stay in a long term facility. Many times getting away from the “triggers” make recovery much easier.
Long-term is what you want to shoot for. That generally means anything longer than a couple of months.
Will a drug treatment facility prescribe me medication?
That will depend on the detox process and any mental health issues that are co-occurring with the addiction. When you leave, a drug treatment center may send you out the door with short-term prescriptions. That is so you can go see your general doctor and get a proper prescription. So generally you need to go see a doctor outside of a rehab in order to be put on a permanent prescription.
What percentage of addicts are cured by rehab services or treatment?
Addiction is tough to recover from. It’s a chronic disease. Beware of places that give a “sober guarantee” or a percentage of success rate. It is very difficult to get an accurate number. This is because addiction is a long-term disease. You would literally need to track the rehab participants for the rest of their lives to find out the success. For us, a lifetime of sobriety is the goal.
It is worth it! Don’t give up hope.
What should the family do, to help in the treatment process?
Find an Al-anon meeting. They are everywhere. It is a fellowship that helps the family dealing with the disease of drug and alcohol addiction. Find one in your area and go to it and share openly and honestly with the people there. It’s not a self-help group. It’s a help each of so we can be empowered, group. Talk with the people who run the meeting. Explain to them your situation and what you are going through and ask for their advice and support. This is the best way to deal with things when you have a loved one in treatment. What do you have to lose?
Also, participate in any family programs that the rehab might offer. Call them up and see if they have one. Most do.
How can a person who has low income find a good addiction treatment program?
Drop me a line. I always have a suggestion (or two).
Other than that, get out your phone, get on the internet, and start calling. Start with local rehabs and treatment centers. Call them up, tell them what you have (money, insurance, Medicaid, medicare, no insurance at all, whatever) and that you need help for addiction.
If you are in the US, you will find help, almost regardless of your funding situation. Check out Medicaid. Look into the Salvation Army. Look at local churches for help. Persistence is key. And, be nice. Be desperate. Keep asking questions.
Is detoxification necessary in treating alcohol problems?
Yes. If you drink heavy, every day, quitting abruptly is very dangerous. Everyone who is quitting alcohol has to detox from the drug. That simply means that the alcohol is going to leave their body, and so they may or may not have withdrawal symptoms when this happens. It’s not something you want to take a chance with. Allow the medical professionals help. Depending on many factors, detox symptoms could be very minor, or they could be extremely dangerous. That means that the person could die if they stop drinking, Many people don’t realize that alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.
So the bottom line, go to rehab and seek detox if you are quitting alcohol. It’s hard to know how bad your withdrawal will be.
If you have ever been through detox before, realize that every time you detox after that, your symptoms will always get worse. They never get better. That is part of the progression of the disease.
What are the usual drugs and medications that can treat heroin or opiate addiction?
Fortunately, there are several options. When you go into the detox center they will likely treat your withdrawal with something like Suboxone or Subutex. But some places use a combination drugs. They might also give you medications to help with the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, such as the stomach cramps or the anxiety.
There will be a thorough intake process so treatment will be individualized for each person.
Why do I need to stay at an Inpatient Rehab?
The short answer is because it works. And it works because there are tons of benefits. The biggest one is that if you actually stay clean and sober, in a safe environment. Your whole life will change for the better and you get a fresh start on life. In order to make that happen, you need the care of a safe environment during rehab. A treatment center is a perfect drug and alcohol-free safe place. But you also get the support of other people who are going through the same problems. The small group and individual therapy are immensely helpful. You will probably also be introduced to some form of sober fellowship like 12-step meetings. This will be important for when you leave the rehab. You will need to change almost everything in your life. Having a support base will make it easier.
Finally, it’s super important to get away from your old friends and drug dealers. It’s really hard to deal with pressure from your drug-using circle.
If you don’t really want to be sober, then none of these are really going to help. But for anyone who is serious about recovery, rehab is a great place to start their journey.
What is drug addiction?
I love this answer. It comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Addiction is a complex, and often chronic, brain disease. It is characterized by drug craving, seeking, and use that can persist even in the face of devastating life consequences. Addiction results largely from brain changes that stem from prolonged drug use—changes that involve multiple brain circuits, including those responsible for governing self-control and other behaviors. Drug addiction is treatable, often with medications (for some addictions) combined with behavioral therapies. However, relapse is common and can happen even after long periods of abstinence, underscoring the need for long-term support and care. Relapse does not signify treatment failure, but rather should prompt treatment re-engagement or modification. For more information, see “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior – The Science of Addiction.”
If you have other questions, just pick up the phone. We really enjoy taking calls and sharing our experience, with people who are suffering from this epidemic.
Specific Questions From Parents
When parents have a child who is using drugs, it puts them in an awkward spot. This is true when the child (adult or not) lives at home. This is the common scenario that I see. The Mom or Dad knows their kid has a problem with drugs. The child might sometimes admit it and even ask for help. However, their actions say otherwise. The words might come out, but the behavior doesn’t change. The first reaction might be “tough love”. Something like “I will threaten to kick him or her out”. But then the reality comes in — what if my loved one ends up living on the street and dies? I could never forgive myself. The next thought is “OK, I will let my child stay in my house”. This isn’t good either because I am enabling the behavior. What if they overdose, because I made it too easy to abuse drugs. I could never forgive myself.
As a parent, it is your role to take care of your child. But, when your teen or adult child is addicted to drugs, most likely the best you can do is to guide them to a solution. If your loved one wants to get clean and sober, then help them get into a rehab. But what if you are not sure they are addicted to drugs …or what if they don’t want help…
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). If your teen or adult child starts behaving differently for no apparent reason––such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile—it could be a sign he or she is developing a drug-related problem. Parents and others may overlook such signs, believing them to be a normal part of the growing-up process.
Through scientific advances, we know more than ever before about how drugs work in the brain. We also know that addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives. Jump in early when you first spot signs of drug use.
Why can’t some people stop using drugs on their own?
Repeated drug use changes the brain. Brain-imaging studies of people with drug addictions show changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision-making, learning, memory and behavior control. Quitting is difficult, even for those who feel ready.
If my child refuses to cooperate, should the family conduct an intervention?
People of all ages with substance use disorders live in fear of what will happen if their drugs are taken away. You can ensure your loved-one that professional treatment centers will keep them safe and as comfortable as possible – especially if a detoxification process is needed. Be sure to let them know that family and loved ones will stand by and offer loving support. Warning: addicts commonly “change their mind” after a few days of treatment. Parents should pay no attention to this. It is just the disease talking.
What do I look for in a treatment center for this age group?
Treatment approaches must be tailored to address each patient’s substance abuse patterns and related medical, psychiatric, and social problems. Some treatment centers offer outpatient treatment programs. However, most people do better in inpatient (residential) treatment. An addiction specialist can advise you about your best options
How do we keep things stable in the meanwhile?
First, talk to your loved one. There are ways to have a conversation about drugs or other sensitive issues that will prevent a fight. Acknowledge your child’s opinions but know that many people with substance abuse problems are afraid and ashamed and might not tell the truth. This is why it is important to involve medical professionals who have experience working with people struggling with substance abuse issues.
I have heard that people who use drugs could be “self-medicating” because they feel depressed – How do we handle that problem as well?
It is possible your child needs to find treatment for both depression and addiction. This is very common. It is called “comorbidity” or “co-occurrence” when you have more than one health problem at the same time. Parents should encourage them
children to tell all of their health care providers about all of their symptoms and behaviors. There are many non-addictive drugs that can help with depression or other mental health issues. Sometimes doctors do not communicate with each other. So, make sure all relevant healthcare providers know about all of your child’s health issues. Your child should be treated for all health issues at the same time. If your child ever feels so depressed that you think he or she will hurt themselves there is a hotline you or your child can call. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255.) You are also welcome to call it to discuss your child’s symptoms and get advice on how to best handle the situation.
My child’s addiction is making my life unmanageable. What now?
Take care of yourself, as a parent! Ask yourself the following questions and answer them as honestly as you can:
- Do you find yourself making excuses, lying or covering up for your child/spouse/friend?
- Do you have a reason not to trust your child/spouse/friend?
- Is it becoming difficult to believe his/her explanations?
- Do you lie awake worrying about him/her?
- Is he/she missing school/work often, without your knowledge?
- Is your spouse missing work and the bills piling up?
- Are the savings mysteriously disappearing’?
- Are the unanswered questions causing hostility and undermining your marriage’?
- Are you asking yourself, “What’s wrong?” and “Is it my fault?”
- Are your suspicions turning you into a detective, and are you afraid of what you may find?
- Are normal family disagreements becoming hostile and violent?
- Are you canceling your social functions with vague excuses’?
- Are you becoming increasingly reluctant to invite friends to your home?
- Is concern for your spouse, child or friend causing your headaches, a knotty stomach, anxiety?
- Is concern for your spouse, child or friend easily irritated by minute matters? Does your life seem a nightmare’?
- Are you unable to discuss the situation with friends or relatives because of embarrassment?
- Are your attempts at control frustrating?
- Do you overcompensate and try not to make waves?
- Do you keep trying to make things better and nothing helps?
- Are the lifestyle and friends of the loved one changing? Do you ever think that they may be using drugs?
If you have answered “YES” to four or more of these questions, give us a call. You are not alone, this is a serious epidemic and the only detox treatment at a hospital is going to produce the results you want. Don’t be embarrassed. this is happening to a lot of other people just like you. It’s just that folks don’t talk about it. That’s why you call us, we understand, we have been through it and we don’t judge. We have seen almost everything. You are not going to shock or scare our team. You will find comfort.
Recovery treatment has advanced and it’s no longer true that someone has to hit “rock bottom” to get help. An intervention might be the solution that will start a lifetime of sobriety.