How to talk about treatment
What if my loved one isn't motivated to enter treatment
What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction is the most severe form of a substance use disorder (SUD). An SUD develops when a person’s continued use of alcohol and/or drugs causes significant issues, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home. An SUD can range from mild to severe.
Addiction is a complex, chronic brain disease characterized by drug craving, seeking, and use that persists even in the face of devastating life consequences. Addiction results largely from brain changes that stem from prolonged drug use—changes that involve multiple brain circuits, including those responsible for governing self-control and other behaviors. Drug addiction is treatable, often with medications (for some addictions) combined with behavioral therapies. However, relapse is common and can happen even after long periods of abstinence, underscoring the need for long-term support and care. Relapse does not signify treatment failure, but rather should prompt treatment re-engagement or modification. For more information,
How Science Has Revolutionized the Understanding of Drug Addiction
For much of the past century, scientists studying drug abuse labored in the shadows of powerful myths and misconceptions about the nature of addiction. When scientists began to study addictive behavior in the 1930s, people addicted to drugs were thought to be morally flawed and lacking in willpower. Those views shaped society’s responses to drug abuse, treating it as a moral failing rather than a health problem, which led to an emphasis on punishment rather than prevention and treatment. Today, thanks to science, our views and our responses to addiction and other substance use disorders have changed dramatically. Groundbreaking discoveries about the brain have revolutionized our understanding of compulsive drug use, enabling us to respond effectively to the problem.
As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug abuse takes on individuals, families, and communities.
Despite these advances, many people today do not understand why people become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain to foster compulsive drug use. This booklet aims to fill that knowledge gap by providing scientific information about the disease of drug addiction, including the many harmful consequences of drug abuse and the basic approaches that have been developed to prevent and treat substance use disorders. At the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), we believe that increased understanding of the basics of addiction will empower people to make informed choices in their own lives, adopt science-based policies and programs that reduce drug abuse and addiction in their communities, and support scientific research that improves the Nation’s well-being.
Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
My daughter only drinks beer, doesn't drink every day and says she's not alcoholic. Is she right?
Alcoholism is not defined by what you drink, when you drink it, or even how much you drink. Whether a person drinks every day or only on weekends, drinks shots of liquor or just drinks beer or wine, what matters most is what happens when they drink. If her drinking is causing problems at home, at work, physically, financially, emotionally or legally, it is time to get help.
Is it important to talk to my kids about alcohol and drug use before they are even exposed to it?
In a recent survey, 1 in 3 fifth and sixth graders (ages 10-11) said that alcohol was available and easy to get. Approximately 10% of 9-10 year olds have started drinking and one in three begin drinking before age 13. By age 15, approximately 50% have had at least one drink, so it’s never too early to start the conversation. Parents play a key role in providing information about alcohol and drugs, and research shows that kids who learn a lot about the risks of alcohol and drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use. Parents influence whether and when adolescents begin drinking as well as how their children drink. Family policies about adolescent drinking in the home and the way parents themselves drink are important.
My ex-husband was alcoholic, should I be concerned about my kids?
When there is addiction in the family, everyone is effected, and it is important to understand how each family member may be coping with unhealthy family behaviors. In addition, children of alcohol or drug addicted parents are in the highest risk group of all children to become alcohol and drug abusers themselves due to both genetic and family environment factors. So, it's important to become educated on addiction and codependency, and to talk with children honestly about the dangers of alcohol and drugs and their own risk factors.
I think my 19 year son has a drug problem, but I think he'll grow out of it. Am I right?
Plain and simple, if you are concerned, now is the time to seek help, not later. It might help to attend meetings of Al-Anon or Nar-Anon (programs for family and friends of those who may have a problem with alcohol or drugs), and open meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous (programs for the person who may have a problem with alcohol or drugs). You can learn a great deal about your family situation from hearing the experiences of others who are dealing with similar family concerns. And you can learn a great deal about alcoholism and drug addiction from hearing alcoholics and addicts talking honestly about their slide into addiction and their recoveries.
NCADD has prepared this list of Frequently Asked Questions to help with the many questions people have with Addiction, Treatment and Recovery.
We have conveniently split this into sections for Parents, Youth, Women, Seniors, Treatment and Veterans.
Do I have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol?
Take an online assessment to gain insight into your level of drug and/or alcohol involvement. If you answered yes to over five of the questions you might consider contacting either the Council on Chemical Abuse, Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC), a physician or the Drug and Alcohol Hotline at (484) 628-8186.
What do I need for an assessment?
To be assessed, the only required information is personal proof of Berks County residency. A photo ID, utility statement, bank statement, medical bill, etc., must be provided. Please note the following: assessments may take up to two and half hours; it is requested that children do not attend, and TASC (Berks County’s central intake unit) does have Spanish speaking staff. Also note, if you do not have insurance, it is highly recommended that you apply for medical assistance online.
What kind of treatment is needed?
You can be assessed directly at any local drug and alcohol counseling center that has a contract with the Council, the Berks County Single County Authority.
How will I pay for treatment services?
I do not have health insurance.
If you do not have health insurance and cannot pay for treatment, you may be eligible for public funding. To determine eligibility, please can go to TASC at 19 North Sixth Street, Suite 300 in Reading, or call a local contracted outpatient treatment provider to schedule an evaluation.
I have private insurance.
Please contact your insurance carrier to find out how to get into treatment. The customer service number is typically on the back of your insurance card. You can also ask your employer’s Human Resource department for the contact information.
I will pay privately.
Directly contact your preferred treatment provider by telephone to arrange an appointment for an evaluation.
Is it unusual for a person to enter treatment numerous times?
Many people suffering from addiction go through treatment several times before successfully engaging in recovery. A personal motivation to change can strengthen over the course of numerous treatment attempts. Insights gained in treatment can be cumulative and may assist in eventually realizing the full benefits of treatment.
What if my child needs help but refuses to enter treatment?
Act 53 provides parents and legal guardians a means by which to commit their drug/alcohol involved child to treatment services. In Berks County, the point of contact for initiating Act 53 proceedings is the Juvenile Probation Office. If necessary, the probation department will refer the child for a drug and alcohol assessment. If treatment is recommended as a result of this assessment, the child must comply with this treatment or involuntary commitment proceedings will be initiated. For more information, contact the Berks County Probation Department at (610) 478-3200.
Will treatment "fix" my loved one?
Addiction is a progressive disease that cannot be cured with a quick fix. Treatment can address the addictive behavior and assist in returning the individual with a substance use disorder to a healthy lifestyle. As addiction is also a family disease, it is important that all family members consider their need for support as well.
Should the family be involved in the treatment process?
Family support plays a large role in a successful treatment process. Many emotions experienced by the individual with a substance use disorder are rooted in the family system and need to be expressed as part of treating the disease. Family involvement can extend the benefits of treatment; however, it is important that family members also seek support for themselves.
What should family members expect of their loved on after leaving treatment?
Family members should be aware that while their loved one is the same person, the recovering individual may not have the same identity. The absence of their addicted self will likely impact the personality and mannerisms in the recovering person. The family should expect to adjust to these changes and participate in supporting a continuation of care.