Addiction: Nuts and Bolts of Getting the Help You Need

Many people have questions about how to assist a person suffering from addiction. There are many different treatment options to consider, and the appropriate level of care for an addict depends on the severity of their illness. If someone wishes to get professional help, the first step is to be assessed for a substance Use Disorder. But, it doesn’t end there.


Do You or Someone You Love or Care About Suffer With Addiction? Take This Simple Test:

1) Have you ever used more than planned?
2) Have you ever used despite saying that you wouldn’t?
3) Does the use interfere with social relationships?
4) Do you have a tolerance to the substance?
5) Have you used in situations that are physically hazardous?
6) Does use interfere with work or social activities?
7) Does your use worsen any physical or mental health problems that you may have?
8) Have you experienced withdrawal from substances?
9) Have you told yourself, “This time when I use, it will be different”?
10) Have you tried switching one drug for another, switching brands, drinking only wine, etc?


If you answered “yes” to more than two of these questions, there is a high chance you have a problem with substances.

What Should I Do?

I always recommend trying 12-Step meetings first, as they are free and easy to access. You can locate local AA meetings by contacting your local Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup. I have listed some contact information below for New York and would be happy to assist anyone living in other places.


What is a 12-Step Meeting?

A meeting is a place where addicts and alcoholics come together to support one another in getting and staying clean. There are thousands of people out there with many years of sobriety who are eager to mentor still-suffering individuals. There is a slogan in the program that says, “We can only keep what we have by giving it away.” It is also important to note that service to the still-suffering person is the twelfth step of the program.


What Happens In a Meeting?

There are usually readings at the beginning outlining the format of the meeting and introducing some of the basic principles of recovery. Each group is a little bit different, so expect differences in culture at different groups. Some groups will feel right, and others won’t. Try different groups to find the one that’s right for you.


Who Can Come to a Meeting?

Some meetings are open, which means that anyone can attend, whether addict, alcoholic, friend, or loved one. These are typically speaker meetings that include one or more people telling their story to the group. Other meetings are closed discussion meetings, meaning that only those with a desire to stop using can attend. You can determine what type of meeting you are considering attending by reading the meeting list online or by calling your Intergroup. The bottom line is there’s tons of great help at these groups.


Finding the Right Intergroup

Here are a few centers which can assist in locating the appropriate Intergroup:

Rockland County Intergroup
24-Hour Phone: (845) 352-1112

Brooklyn Intergroup
Main: (718) 851-3039

Inter-Group Association of A.A. of New York
Main: (212) 647-1680
FAX: (212) 647-1648


It is important to note that the majority of meetings are located in churches; however, there are also many meetings in places other than churches. Moreover, according to Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, a Jew could attend meetings in this environment as long as it is not held in the sanctuary.


What if the Problem is Very Severe?

If the problem is very severe, it is always best to speak with a professional in the field to assess needs. There are some different options to consider including:


Detox: A medically supervised facility where an addict or alcoholic can safely come off substances. There may be some counseling there; however, it is usually quite limited.


Residential Treatment (Rehab): This level of care involves residing in a facility with 24-hour supervision and typically involves individual therapy, group therapy, treatment planning, educational lectures, spiritual care, family programming, specialty mental health groups, and more.


Day Treatment: This level of care involves 4-6 hours of programming 4-5 days a week. The format varies in different programs. However, the therapeutic services are very similar to that of residential treatment. It’s typical for this type of program to include one-to-one therapy, group therapy, drug testing, and more.


Intensive Outpatient: Individuals typically attend this level of care 3-4 times a week for 3 hours per session. Individual counseling and mental health services are usually available onsite if needed.


How Much Does It Cost?

Treatment can be expensive. I recommend contacting your insurance company to determine what’s included in your plan. Most insurance companies have case managers that are more than willing to assist you in locating services free of charge. You can also reach out to an addiction counselor to get assistance with placement.

Please always do your research when considering a treatment provider, as there are many questionable facilities operating in the United States and Canada.


What has your experience been with addiction treatment? What advice do you have for others who are looking to get help? Share your advice, comments and questions below.

Andrew Waters

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