7 Options When You Need Help for Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is heartbreaking for both the addict and their family. A person with addiction loses sight of their lives, their responsibilities and their loved ones. But they may not know how to get help for drug addiction. They also may not think they need help because denial is an insidious aspect of addiction.

How to Get Help for Drug Addiction

The faster someone learns how to get help for drug addiction the better. Here are some ways to get help. The most successful approach will include a combination of these.

#1 Inpatient Rehab

Many people benefit from an inpatient drug rehab facility. These centers have several options for care and provide longer term attention to all aspects of recovery. People thrive in an environment that allows them to focus on self-care with no distractions or temptations. “We look at drug and alcohol abuse as a maladaptive coping tool,” says Shannon McQuaid, LMFT, LISAC, CDWF, CSAT, executive director at Promises Scottsdale. “Inpatient rehab focuses on learning the coping skills needed to be able to handle stress, self-regulate emotions and stay sober, all with the support within a residential facility.” Pros:

  • Highly structured with 24/7 support
  • Intensive treatment that addresses every aspect of addiction (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual)
  • Minimizes triggers to use and influences from the outside world
  • Close supervision and no access to drugs or alcohol
  • Daily routine, fitness and balanced diet
  • Time to focus exclusively on recovery
  • Close connections with other people in recovery who provide feedback, motivation and camaraderie


  • Rehab may not be local and may require travel
  • Financial concerns (though drug rehab is often covered by insurance)
  • Taking time off from work or family

#2 Outpatient Rehab

Is outpatient rehab the right choice for you? It depends on the severity of your addiction, your support system and your motivation level. This level of care may include partial hospitalization (all day, five days per week) or intensive outpatient programs (several hours per day, several days per week). Pros:

  • Can stay close to home and continue work, school and family commitments
  • Can stay close to support system and family
  • Lower costs


  • Only appropriate for less severe addictions, those with strong support at home and those who don’t have many temptations in their community
  • Sometimes going away from home is more effective
  • Still have access to drugs and alcohol
  • Less frequent access to counselors and other addiction professionals

#3 Drug and Alcohol Detox

Medical detox is an essential first step in the healing process for many people. After detox, you need to start an inpatient or outpatient treatment program or relapse is extremely likely. Pros:

  • It is safest to detox with medical care and supervision
  • Detox programs can minimize the discomfort of withdrawal
  • Inpatient detox includes 24/7 monitoring and support


  • Often requires medical support (cold turkey detox can be very dangerous)
  • Costs (though detox is often covered by insurance)

#4 Self-Help Support Groups

Self-help support groups are a staple of recovery. There are well-known 12-step programs as well as 12-step alternatives such as SMART Recovery and Refuge Recovery. Pros:

  • Widely available worldwide and online
  • Free
  • Ongoing support from a sober community


  • Complements inpatient or outpatient treatment, but is not typically sufficient alone
  • Philosophy and beliefs may not align with yours
  • Requires discipline and motivation to go to meetings consistently

#5 Individual Counseling

One-on-one counseling with a therapist is part of outpatient and inpatient recovery programs, but some people see a private therapist in their community as a first step toward recovery. Pros:

  • Personalized attention
  • Safe place to discuss personal or sensitive topics


  • Can be difficult to find a therapist that specializes in addiction
  • Individual therapy alone is not typically enough to help people stay sober

#6 Group Counseling

Group therapy is an important part of addiction treatment programs, but it can also be a starting point for someone deciding how to get help for drug addiction. Pros:

  • Helps people develop communication, relationship and coping skills
  • Opportunity to listen to other people’s stories and learn from them
  • Sense of community and accountability


  • Can be intimidating to discuss sensitive topics with others
  • People who are just learning how to get help for drug addiction may feel uncomfortable sharing their problems with strangers

Which Treatment Option Is Right for You?

When deciding how to get help for drug addiction, here are some things to consider:

  • How long the addiction has been going on. “The depth of a person’s needs will have a lot to do with how long they were using substances,” says McQuaid. “Someone who has been using drugs for a shorter amount of time may be able to get better with less intense treatment then someone who has spent years in active addiction.”
  • Type of addiction and presence of co-occurring disorders. No illicit drug is better than the next, but each has different requirements for healing. In addition, many people have a dual diagnosis (they’re dealing with addiction and a mental illness like depression or anxiety), which requires more intensive, specialized care.
  • Withdrawal treatment. Drugs have different withdrawal protocols. “With opiates and alcohol, there are specific medical interventions,” says McQuaid. “We can get the person into detox and make decisions about treatment, whereas with meth, for example, people typically move straight to treatment.”
  • Gender. Studies have shown different patterns of drug use between men and women. Research has also found that women have a shorter amount of time between substance abuse and getting into addiction recovery.

Whatever You Do, Do Something

When in doubt about how to get help for drug addiction, call and get a professional assessment and treatment recommendation. As difficult as it may seem to get started, there is hope and healing out there for you and your loved ones if you just take the first step.

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