What options do I have if I can't recover from my substance use disorder?

Dr. Sheila Dunnells
Addiction Medicine Specialist

If you have faced the truth, that you can't cut your substance abuse, congratulations. You have jumped over the biggest enabler of addiction: denial. I have seen miracles happen in the 12 Step Programs. Get a sponsor, do as they tell you, take all the support that is available and you will get better. I also believe that some therapy is probably a good idea. While people are abusing drugs and alcohol their emotional health is not maturing; ie, use substances to squelch the thrill or the pain of what is happening in life. Party when happy; party when sad! Depending upon the age you were when you started abusing substances will determine the emotional age you will be when you stop. That will indicate how much damage you might have to address.

Fredrick Wade
Addiction Medicine Specialist

The first thing you should do is congratulate yourself, for the courage it takes to make such a recognition. Secondly, seek help! Based on what is being asked here I think before you simply enter a support group you should strongly consider an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), or ideally an Inpatient Program followed by an IOP. If you learn only one thing from your recognition I hope you garner this one truth. This is not a game one wins by themselves, so no matter what you do no, I entreat you to no longer act alone and without support. Addiction thrives in isolation so whatever you do, wherever you go, do so with the constant help and guidance of others who have been where you are. By so doing you insure that addiction will not win, as it cannot survive when one continues to shine the light of transparency on it.

Robert Rozsay
Addiction Medicine Specialist

Depending on your drug of choice, if you have tried everything, out-patient, in-patient and self help groups along with counseling, one other option you may have is a medication assisted maintenance or detox program. They are becoming more and more available in recent years.

There are several substance abuse treatment options. You can consider a live-in or drop-in programs that include counseling and some medical treatment. Group counseling offers you the support of others who share your problem, but you may prefer one-on-one counseling if you don’t like talking in groups. Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer free support through the recovery process.

If your problem requires medical care and counseling as you withdraw, you may want to attend a live-in treatment center for about 30 days. If you choose the days-only program, you may need to devote longer than a month towards your recovery.

If you are unable to recover from a substance use disorder (SUD), it's necessary that you educate yourself about the support that may be available in order to achieve a sustained recovery. An SUD occurs when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school or home. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers the following information:

  • Addiction can be successfully treated. Contact your primary care physician (PCP) who can help coordinate your care and refer you to a specialist. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.
  • It takes courage to seek help because there is a lot of hard work ahead. However, treatment can work, and people recover every day.
  • Your approach must be tailored to address your specific substance misuse pattern and your substance-related medical, psychiatric and social needs.
  • There are different kinds of addiction specialists who will be involved in your care, including doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and others.
  • Behavioral treatment ("talk therapy") can help you engage in the treatment process, change your attitude and behaviors related to substance misuse and increase healthier life skills.
  • Medications are available to treat alcohol and opioids addiction. Other medications are available to treat possible mental health conditions.
  • Self-help groups can extend the effects of professional treatment. These groups can be particularly helpful during recovery as they are a source of ongoing communal support.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.