How can I get help/support for substance use disorder?

Note: NAMI volunteers are not medical or mental health professionals, and we cannot offer medical or mental health advice.  The material outlined below is informational and we hope that it helps provide guidance toward getting support.

Substance Use Disorder affects a person's brain and behavior, leading to the inability to control their use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. When one is addicted, the use of a substance may continue despite the harm it causes. Dual Diagnosis is a term that describes when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously.

Mental health problems and substance use disorders sometimes occur together.  This is because:

  • Certain illegal drugs can cause people with an addiction to experience one or more symptoms of a mental health condition.
  • Mental health problems can sometimes lead to alcohol or drug use, as some people with a mental health problem may misuse these substances as a form of self-medication.
  • Mental and substance use disorders share some underlying causes, including changes in brain composition, genetic vulnerabilities, and early exposure to stress or trauma.

More than one in four adults living with serious mental health problems also has a substance use disorder.  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 17 million U.S. adults experienced both mental illness and a substance use disorder in 2020.Substance use disorders occur more frequently with certain mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.

Substance use disorders can start with experimental use of a substance in social situations, and, for some people, use becomes more frequent. For others, particularly with opioids, addiction begins with exposure to prescribed medications, or receiving medications from a friend or relative who has been prescribed the medication.

Recognizing Signs of Drug Use or Intoxication

You may wish to visit the Mayo Clinic webpage on Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder  for information on causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. You may also want to consider visiting the National Institute on Mental Health webpage on Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders for information about risk factors, diagnosis and treatment.

Recovering from a Mental Health Condition and Substance Use

Someone living with a mental health condition and a substance use disorder must treat both issues. Treatment for both may include rehabilitation, medications, support groups, and talk therapy.  Listed below are several resources for finding treatment and support options that you may wish to explore. 

Resources

  • NAMI Hearts+Minds is a wellness program designed to educate and empower you to better manage your mental and physical health, by sharing information about managing medication side effects, substance abuse and smoking cessation, gut health and nutrition, and more. Find a 4-hour seminar or 4-session course at your local NAMI Affiliate.
  • SAMHSA Treatment Locator is a Federal agency website that provides referrals for substance use disorder treatment facilities. SAMHSA is a good resource for locating low-cost/sliding scale mental health care, substance abuse and dual diagnosis facilities. SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator can narrow search by insurance, cost of treatment and type of treatment. Their website also includes programs like assertive community treatment and residential treatment. You can reach SAMHSA at(800) 662-4357; Spanish-language calls are accepted.
  • FindTreatment.gov offers a “Find a Treatment Facility Near You” locator function. Search by city or zip code; filter results by type of treatment, payment options, ages served, languages spoken, special programs (e.g. veterans, LGBT, services for deal and hard of hearing), and more. Once you have identified a provider, contact your insurance company to verify coverage. 
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides NIAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator, where you will find extensive information on alcohol use, how to help someone with an alcohol addiction, a treatment facility finder and guidance on how to find and choose the best treatment options.
  • Start Your Recovery offers information about signs and symptoms of substance use disorder, information about supporting a loved one and choosing and locating a treatment program. Website offers a search function to locate counseling, support groups and treatment facilities. 
  • Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in the United States. Website provides information on addiction basics, prevention, treatment, recovery, safety, and loss and features a “Find Help” locator function on their website. 
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse is the lead federal agency supporting scientific research on drug use and addiction. Visit their website for FAQs on addiction, research, data, clinical trials, and news updates. 
  • The National Drug HelpLine, (844) 289-0879, is a free, confidential 24/7 hotline for information about substance use or misuse, including how to recognize drug use in a loved one and how to locate treatment options in your area. 
  • Partnership to End Addiction is an organization dedicated to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery; organization provides information about addiction, finding treatment, recovery and offers phone-based parent coaching. Spanish-language calls are accepted; resources are available in Spanish on their website. Contact them at (855) 378-4373
  • Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA) Resource Center is a 12-step self-help membership organization for individuals with a dual diagnosis. Features a support group search function on its website.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous provides 12-step self-help groups to help people achieve sobriety; website offers self-assessment tools, FAQs reflections, literature and a “Find aMeeting” app; website is also offered in Spanish. 
  • Narcotics Anonymous provides 12-step self-help groups to help people achieve sobriety. Website offers a “Find a Meeting” support group locator; filter by meeting type for virtual or hybrid meetings. Contact them at (818) 773-9999 x771
  • Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery) is a self-help program for people seeking to overcome addictive problems. SMART Recovery provides free, peer-led online and in-person support groups for individuals and family members/allies of those living with addiction.  Contact SMART Recovery at (440) 951-5357.

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