3 Things to Know to Make Calling a Counselor Easier

3 Things to Know to Make Calling a Counselor Easier

People who recognize that they need help are often hesitant to ask for it

Addiction and mental health disorders are serious conditions, but people who recognize that they need help are often hesitant to ask for it. Counselors and free helplines are available, but an individual might feel intimidated, embarrassed or apprehensive about making the call; misinformed stigmas regarding addiction and mental health can add to the resistance. However, counselors understand the intimidation people might feel when calling for themselves or loved ones, and they know the importance of providing compassionate and informative help. Moreover, a fear of the unknown can also give people pause, particularly about what an addiction diagnosis means and what treatments might be necessary, but knowing a few basics about addiction and treatment makes calling a counselor significantly more comfortable. Here are three important points that can make calling an addiction helpline much easier.

Addiction Is a Neurobiological Disease

Over a span of four years, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) tasked several dozen experts to create a definition of addiction, which the organization published in 2011. The long-form definition highlights the following physical and chemical changes that occur when addiction takes hold:

  • Addiction involves neurobiological changes to dopaminergic pathways, motivational hierarchies, brain reward structures, thought patterns and memory
  • The reward system in an addicted brain creates biological, psychological, behavioral and social side effects
  • Alternations in brain circuitry include dysfunctional neurotransmission, desensitized receptors and reduced natural chemical production
  • Substance reward memories trigger obsessive thoughts, compulsions and behavioral responses

Social stigmas errantly suggest that substance abuse is a matter of character and willpower, but addiction is a disease that involves cellular, molecular and circuitry changes. Furthermore, some people are more susceptible to the disease on a genetic level; in fact, the ASAM policy statement suggests that genetics are about 50 percent responsible for addiction. Ergo, when making the call to an addiction counselor, know that addiction is a disease, not a sign of weakness, and that people who embrace a stigmatizing view of this disease are acting out of misinformation. Another person’s view should never keep you from seeking help.

Availability of Professional Help

Many people equate rehab with detox, i.e., medically supervised withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol. In reality, detox is not rehab per se, but rather the gateway that allows recovering addicts to benefit from science-based therapies. After weaning addicts off of their substance(s) of choice, rehab centers utilize clinically tested therapies that reverse neurobiological changes of drug abuse and that protect against relapse risks and cravings.

In 2005, The American Journal of Psychiatry argued that 72 percent of drug addicts suffer from one or more co-occurring mental health disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar), so rehab centers provide integrated treatment for all such conditions, as well as chronic pain problems. In other words, you can recover at the same time from addiction and any issue that encourages drug abuse.

Treatment professionals evaluate each patient individually to personalize recovery plans with various therapies. Although each plan differs with each patient, the following therapies are commonly applied:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy addresses negative thoughts, pessimistic beliefs and maladaptive responses that cripple behavior
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy fosters healthier mindsets that balance self-acceptance and the need for change in emotionally fragile patients
  • Motivational Interviewing applies reflective listening and open-ended questions to help patients find personal motivations for recovery
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy addresses antisocial behavior and aggression in teen addicts through family counseling

Certain prescription medications can also assist certain recoveries. In 2009, the National Institute on Drug Abuse listed several options, which include naltrexone to break alcohol and opiate addictions, acamprosate and disulfiram for alcoholism and methadone for opiate addiction. Regarding the latter drug, methadone is a synthetic opioid sometimes used in opiate replacement therapies, as it satisfies the dependence without creating a narcotic high. Many pain centers also utilize the drug for long-term pain management in patients with chronic conditions. However, methadone itself also has addiction potential, so patients might require addiction treatment when they stop taking it.

Insurance and Financial Support Options

Cost is a major concern for many addicts who seek treatment, but the following financial support options are available:

  • All insurance policies on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offer addiction and mental health benefits
  • Many policies that are not on the ACA exchanges also cover addiction, and they are legally required to provide a certain level of benefits
  • Many rehab centers offer reduced rates based on a patient’s ability to pay
  • Many facilities also offer financing, financial aid and other assistance options

In most cases, the cost of rehab is ultimately less than the cost of allowing an addiction to continue untreated, so most rehab centers can provide invaluable help while making treatment possible for all addicts who need care.

Free Addiction Help

Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline for immediate assistance, information and recommendations. If treatment is necessary, our admissions coordinators can check your health insurance policy and describe its specific benefits. Our staff are ready to help, so please call now.