Drug Abuse Hotline
Purposes of a Substance Abuse and Drug Abuse Hotline
Substance abuse hotlines and the drug abuse hotline are a resource for people struggling with addiction. People commonly call a hotline to contact an addiction professional since this is the most accessible path for many people who may not otherwise have regular medical care.
Addiction professionals who work at the hotline can provide information and make referrals for people struggling with their addiction who may not know where to turn for inpatient care or counseling services. Substance abuse counselors can also provide information and advice for loved ones, such as referrals to local intervention providers and support groups that focus on co-dependency issues.
Substance abuse hotlines are not a substitute for 911 and other emergency services, but the professionals who work for them are generally experienced in talking with people in a crisis.
In an emergency, a hotline professional may be able to help a caller get in touch with emergency medical or police assistance, point the caller toward a domestic violence shelter or other resources or just provide a third-person perspective to help people with addiction issues see the need to escape a potentially dangerous situation. In all cases, the person on the phone with a caller is empathetic and supportive, and above all, non-judgmental and understanding of what the caller is going through.
What Happens When You Call a Substance Abuse Hotline
Substance abuse hotlines can take different approaches to the services they offer, and they vary in the populations they serve, but all hotlines have a few things in common.
In all cases, the conversations that take place on substance abuse hotlines are confidential, and all hotlines are willing to provide information and referrals anonymously if the caller so desires. Substance abuse professionals are not police officers, and the purpose of the hotline is not to get callers arrested or in trouble with the law.
Instead, the hotline worker’s objective is to help people who are struggling with addiction to get help, by dispensing information and providing assistance without judgment.
The substance abuse professionals who work at hotlines are knowledgeable about addiction and related issues, but they’re not doctors. The person answering the call at a hotline cannot dispense medical advice or handle an active emergency.
In case of an overdose, violent outbreak, automobile accident, or other emergency, the best advice is to call 911 and let professional first responders manage the issue.
The time for the substance abuse hotline is generally later when it’s time to start looking for long-term solutions to addiction disorders.
As part of the process of helping callers, almost all substance abuse hotlines do have to ask certain questions to know what kind of help is required. These questions can sometimes feel personal, but callers do not have to give their names, and none of their answers are held against them in any way.
Instead, the questions a substance abuse professional asks are a kind of triage, intended to determine which resources a caller needs to be connected with most. Specifics vary by hotline, but typical questions include:
- Is your life in danger?
- Are you in an emergency situation?
- Which substance(s) are you struggling with?
- How frequently do you use the substance(s)?
- How long have you been using the substance(s)?
- Do you have any other physical or mental health issues?
- Have you ever sought treatment for substance abuse?
- Do you want to begin treatment for substance abuse?
It is extremely important to answer these questions as honestly as possible.
Shading the truth or giving inaccurate information can result in getting a referral to a resource that may not be able to help, or in overlooking a major problem, such as a medical emergency.
When you call a substance abuse or drug abuse hotline, you should feel free to ask any questions you have about addiction and related issues.
These questions are also kept confidential, and you can ask for information without fear of judgment, reprimand, or fear of legal or personal consequences.
Substance abuse professionals generally confine the answers they give to subjects they know well and have been trained on, so their answers are likely to be accurate and helpful. Subjects most professionals can give good answers for include:
- The dangers of substance abuse and addiction, including risks common to specific drugs
- Treatment options for the specific substance, such as inpatient, outpatient, and support group approaches
- The likely cost of treatment, as well as some information about insurance coverage
- The availability of treatment centers in your area
- Other treatment resources, including those that are available at no cost, in your area
- Codependency, depression and other common issues the loved ones of people with addictions struggle with, as well as the resources available to help them deal with addiction in the family.