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Alcohol or Drug Addiction Crisis

Many people experience different types of crises, including drug and/or alcohol misuse that impacts their lives greatly. Recognizing you are having an addiction crisis is the first step in getting help and changing your life.

Seeking addiction treatment can seem overwhelming and you may find yourself searching for the right addiction crisis center. Although it may be difficult to know where to start on the path toward recovery, this article will help you understand more about drug and alcohol addiction and where to get help.

What Is an Addiction Crisis?

A mental health crisis, of which addiction could be considered, occurs when a person’s behavior changes in such a way that it could put themselves or others at risk of hurting themselves or being unable to function normally in daily life.1

Crises often involve feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. During these times, people need support from family, friends, and professionals. Situations that may lead to a mental health or addiction crisis, include:1

  • Home or environmental stressors, including changes in relationships, death of a loved one, conflicts with loved ones, and trauma.
  • Social or work stressors, including worry about upcoming projects, feeling misunderstood by teachers/co-workers/supervisors, and discrimination.
  • Additional stressors, including experiencing community or domestic violence, natural disasters, changing medication prescriptions or dosages, and the use or misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Crises may include alcohol or drug misuse. Many people with mental health disorders also struggle with substance use disorders and vice versa, known as comorbidity or co-occurring disorders.2 For someone who is struggling with drug or alcohol use, an addiction crisis may be an indicator to family or friends that they have hit what’s often called “rock bottom,” or, in other words, their lowest point, and it may be time for an intervention.3

Addiction is a brain condition that leads to compulsive behavior despite the harmful consequences.4 These changes may impact both an individual’s behavior and cognitive function, leading to moodiness, memory loss, or even trouble processing information and making decisions, and these changes can last for a prolonged period of time.4

Is My Loved One Experiencing an Addiction Crisis?

While there are not always warning signs of a mental health or addiction crisis, there are various warning signs that may reveal that someone is going through one. These may include:1

  • Increased energy level or the inability to stay still.
  • Inability to perform daily routines including bathing, dental hygiene, and changing clothes.
  • Rapid movement into feeling depressed or withdrawn.
  • Rapid mood swings.
  • Isolating self from friends, family, work, and school.
  • Abusive behavior toward self or others.
  • Paranoia.

Signs of Alcohol or Drug Addiction

When it comes to addiction, it can be difficult to recognize signs of a loved one’s drug or alcohol misuse. However, it may be helpful to know the criteria used by doctors to diagnose substance use disorders (SUDs), the clinical term for addiction. These criteria come from the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th edition, and include:5

  • Needing more of the substance to have the same effect.
  • Experiencing strong urges for the substance.
  • Using more of the substance over a longer period of time.
  • Failing in work, school, or family responsibilities.
  • Using the substance despite consequences in your personal, academic, or professional life.
  • Taking risks to obtain the substance, including stealing.
  • Spending large amounts of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance.
  • An inability to stop the use of the substance.
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms if you do attempt to stop.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Options

Addiction and substance use disorders are treatable.6 A variety of treatment options are available depending on your specific needs. When a person has co-occurring disorders, which may contribute to an addiction crisis, addressing both disorders at the same time is seen as most effective.2

When you begin alcohol or drug rehab, the following treatment approaches may be involved:7

  • Detox is when the body clears itself from drugs or alcohol. The detox process helps people manage acute and possibly dangerous withdrawal symptoms that occur when people stop using certain substances. It does not address the psychological, social, or behavioral problems connected to addiction and should only be treated as a first step in the recovery process.
  • Medication: During detox, withdrawal symptoms may be unpleasant or even potentially fatal, so medication may be prescribed to manage those symptoms. Medication may also be used to reduce drug cravings.
  • Therapy: Behavioral therapy–individual, group, and family–is often used in addiction treatment. People meet with a counselor/therapist about their mental health concerns and addictive behaviors. Sessions may also involve developing skills to resist drug or alcohol use, improving problem-solving skills, discussing the patient’s motivation to become/stay sober, figuring out strategies for dealing with relapse, etc. Group therapy and involvement with other groups of people who are also in recovery provide people with a better chance of continued recovery.
  • Inpatient treatment: Inpatient treatment facilities allow people to live in the treatment facility and receive support, monitoring, and care 24 hours a day. They are typically better for individuals who do not have stable, supportive home environments, are at a greater risk of relapse, or have a more severe addiction crisis, or are misusing multiple substances.
  • Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment programs allow people to live at home while receiving treatment. The time spent in outpatient care can vary depending on a person’s needs and treatment plan and can range from a few hours a week to over 20 hours a week. It is often recommended for individuals who have a stable work/home life and solid social support networks. Treatment typically involves individual and group therapy and may also involve prescribed medication.

Insights about your behavior and the coping skills learned during treatment are valuable tools to incorporate into life after rehab. Some people may also attend mutual help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which provide you with support and a judgment-free environment.

How Long Does Rehab Last?

The length of time that is spent in drug or alcohol rehab varies depending on a person’s needs and the substances being misused. Upon entering treatment, you should receive a thorough evaluation to assess which level of care is needed.

Inpatient treatment programs can last for 28- or 30-days60-days90-days, or more if needed. Your treatment plan will also include an aftercare component, where skills learned during treatment can be reinforced. This could be one or a combination of many things, from individual counseling to attending mutual-help groups to self-care strategies like regular exercise or daily meditation.8

There isn’t one treatment strategy that works for every person, and it is imperative that a person’s treatment plan is assessed and adjusted regularly.7 Individualized treatment plans that are developed after a professional assessment and later adapted or adjusted as needed during treatment can provide people with a greater chance of sustained recovery post-rehab.

How Do I Get Help for Substance Misuse or Addiction Crisis?

Acknowledging your addiction crisis and substance use disorder, and pursuing treatment is an important step toward a healthier life. If you are having a substance abuse crisis, help is available for you to begin on your path toward recovery.

Contact one of our caring admissions navigators at to learn about treatment options. They are available 24/7 to provide you with the guidance, information, and support you need to get help in addiction treatment. You can also check your insurance with the navigators to get help with paying for treatment.

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