Here are the facts:
- Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the brain
- Addiction is not a moral failing, but instead a disease caused by biology, environments, and other factors
- Overdose is now the #1 cause of accidental death in the United States, recently surpassing car accident
- In the United States, 8-10% of people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol or other drugs. That’s approximately 22 million people3
- Every four minutes a parent loses a child to addiction, and the rising cost of addiction now exceeds $400 billion a year
- Research shows that the stigma of addiction keeps people from getting the treatment they need
- 1 in 3 families are impacted by substance use disorder (SUD)1
- Only about 1 in 10 seek treatment for substance use disorder (SUD)4
- $193 billion estimated annual cost to businesses due to employee substance use3
Now keep in mind:
The ultimate goal of substance use disorder treatment isn’t simply to eliminate the use of a specific substance - it’s to help the person with addiction move forward to become a full member of their community, maintaining steady work and healthy relationships. As you or someone you love works toward that goal, it’s helpful to keep the following considerations in mind:
- Addiction is a disease, and it can be treated
- Every addiction is unique - so every treatment must be unique
- Treatment should address both the substance use and the whole health of the patient
- Treatment takes time and commitment
- Relapse does not mean failure
Treatments and resources to be aware of:
Naloxone: a safe, FDA-approved medication that has been proven to reverse opioid overdoses in minutes. During an overdose, the drugs depress the user's respiratory system so much that the user stops breathing completely. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. That means naloxone binds to the same receptors as the opioid, displacing the opioid in the process and temporarily undoing its harmful effects. Naloxone must be introduced to the body relatively quickly, as death from an overdose may occur within one to three hours of opioid use. The sooner naloxone is used, the more successful it will be in reviving the person who’s overdosing. Naloxone is only meant to be a first line of defense during an overdose, because its antidote effect will wear off in 20–90 minutes. How can you get it? Two FDA-approved naloxone products are available in pharmacies: a nasal spray (Narcan) and an auto-injector (Evzio). These medications are available in most states without a prescription. Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens all carry naloxone, and the websites of the latter two feature helpful information about what to expect when purchasing the medication. Learn more here.
Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment:
Research has shown that most people need at least three months in treatment to significantly address, reduce, or stop their substance use, and best outcomes are associated with longer durations of engaged treatment.5 Every person’s experience with substance use disorder is unique, so treatment plans are most successful when they’re tailored to individual needs. However, substance use disorder treatment usually includes some combination of the following components:6
- Detoxification: It’s important physical symptoms of withdrawal are safely managed. This may take place at an inpatient treatment facility or outpatient program under the care of a medical professional. Certain medications may be used to assist with the detox and to minimize the symptoms of withdrawal, which can be dangerous in certain cases.
- Counseling and Behavioral Therapy: Since drug and alcohol treatment plans address both the causes and effects of addiction, counseling and behavioral therapy is an important part of nearly every plan. There are a wide range of behavioral therapies available, and a professional can help determine which is most appropriate based on the type of addiction and other issues being treated.
- Medication: In addition to medication that may be administered to help with withdrawal symptoms, research shows that some substance use disorders are best managed with longer-term medication assisted treatment (MAT).7 MAT is the use of medications, along with counseling and behavioral therapies, to treat substance use disorders and prevent opioid overdose. There are currently highly effective medications that are used in the treatment of tobacco, alcohol, and opioid use disorders.
- Support groups: Support groups8 include 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, as well as programs that utilize SMART recovery approaches or other peer-counseling programs. These programs provide opportunities where people in recovery can connect with one another in an environment that promotes and supports long-term recovery.
Once you’ve decided to seek treatment for a substance use disorder, take a deep breath, and realize that you’ve taken one of the hardest step by simply recognizing the need for help.
- Schedule an assessment from your personal physician or a qualified addiction specialist. The clinician or doctor will begin by asking you questions to learn more about your life and your substance use. They will ask how the substance use started, how long substances have been used, and if there’s family history of misuse or addiction. The assessment will also include a physical examination to determine your general health. Tests for other diseases may also be included. After the exam, the doctor will recommend a treatment plan, which may include a treatment center, medication, behavioral therapies, counseling, or a combination of these options.
Making a treatment plan: If you’re referred to a treatment center, you can work with your doctor or an addiction specialist to determine which type of facility is right for your recovery. There are more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities in the U.S.,9 including both inpatient and outpatient options.
Inpatient treatment center: the person in treatment lives at the facility for a designated period of time and is monitored and supported by professionals. Benefits of inpatient treatment include:
- assistance with the detoxification process
- emotional and physical support
- isolation from the stresses that may have contributed to the addiction
Outpatient treatment centers: a person visits the center for regularly scheduled treatment on a daily or weekly basis but lives at home and continues with daily activities. Benefits include:
- more affordability
- access to family support
- an ability to continue to work
- Inpatient treatment center: the person in treatment lives at the facility for a designated period of time and is monitored and supported by professionals. Benefits of inpatient treatment include:
To find both inpatient and outpatient options, call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helpline, at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov to find a facility in your area.
Once you’ve decided upon a treatment plan with your doctor, you can decide if it’s necessary to arrange medical leave with your employer. If your treatment will require medical leave, discuss your eligibility with your employer or human resources department. The Family Medical Leave Act allows employees to take leave for a serious health condition, and employers cannot take action against employees who take medical leave for substance use treatment.10 Privacy laws prohibit your doctor from sharing information about your substance use disorder or your treatment without your consent,4 so you can share as little or as much information as is appropriate for your situation.
To learn more, please visit: https://www.shatterproof.org/about-addiction
THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information contained on this website is not intended to be a substitute for, or to be relied upon as, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This website is for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
1. Facing addiction in America 2016 analysis, based on results of SAMHSA 2013 national survey on drug use and health and OASAS drug-free America 2011 national survey.
2. Estimated economic cost in 2007, the last available estimate. Source: National Drug Intelligence Center. National Threat Assessment: the Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society. May 2011. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.
3. Grant B, Saha TD, Ruan WJ. “Epidemiology of DSM-5 Drug Use DisorderResults From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, January 2016.
4. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Results from the 2015 national survey on drug use and Health: Detailed tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide”
8. National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. https://www.ncadd.org/people-in-recovery/hope-help-and-healing/self-help-recovery-support-groups "Self Help Recovery Support Groups"
9 National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Drug Addiction Treatment in the US" https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states
10. Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601–2654 (2006)