The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services published in its Behavioral Health Barometer (United States, 2015) report that in 2014, an estimated 24.1 million people aged 12 or older were dependent on or abused chemical substances in the United States.
With so much emphasis placed on illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine in popular media, it might seem at first glance that substance abuse is a problem confined mostly to criminals; however, widespread abuse of prescription medication is sweeping the nation and seventeen million of those who were dependent on or abused chemical substances in 2014 were using alcohol—a legal substance that is widely available all across the country—as their drug of choice. So if you find yourself struggling with substance abuse of any sort, know that you are not alone in your fight, and that there is hope: there are many resources available to help put you on track for recovery.
An excellent first step is visiting the SAMHSA online treatment locator, or calling their toll-free line (1-800-662-4357), for referrals to regional resources.
With or without insurance, in English or in Spanish, the SAMHSA will give free referrals to anyone who contacts the helpline. The online tool will give you a list of facilities nearest your ZIP code which provide whatever particular kind of treatment you need. Both the online tool and the hotline are confidential and available 24/7, every day of the year. Most importantly, the SAMHSA emphasizes evidence-based programs and practices, ensuring that you are likely to find the best recovery treatment and support available to you in your region. You are not required to have health insurance before you contact the SAMHSA, and if you do not have insurance you will be referred to state-funded programs, as well as facilities that have flexible payment options or that accept social insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid.
The best way to tackle addiction is holistically, so you may be referred to several forms of evidence-based treatment. Any combination of counseling, medication, and supportive services—case management, employment, housing—or all three, may be recommended for your specific needs. You should take all the help you can get if you are serious about recovering from substance abuse or dependence, but remember that you will need to walk the road to recovery yourself, regardless of whatever support you can find. This means you will need to focus on yourself and changing parts—or all—of your life to make recovery possible.
In general, there are four main foundations you should be looking to build in order to have a successful recovery: your good health—and that doesn’t mean only abstaining from whatever substance(s) you may be abusing, but also taking care of your mental, physical, and emotional health; a safe, stable home; filling your life with purpose, whether that be through work, volunteering, or creative endeavors; and community or social networks that reward you with friendship, love, and support. With these cornerstones in place, and with the aid of professional medical and psychiatric treatment, you will have the best chance of wresting loose your life from the clutches of substance abuse and putting the course of your future firmly back in your control.