By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Mar 11, 2022
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Alice! Health Promotion. "Reaching out for help with substance abuse." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 11 Mar. 2022, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/reaching-out-help-substance-abuse. Accessed 22, Jun. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2022, March 11). Reaching out for help with substance abuse. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/reaching-out-help-substance-abuse.

Dear Alice,

I have a huge dilemma. I have an addiction to a certain drug that has turned my life upside down. That drug is crack cocaine. The worst part about it is that nobody knows this but me. Nobody knows that right now, my life is on the brink. How do you express this problem to people who don't even have a clue as to what you are dealing with? How do you reach out to the people who you love and trust when you are so ashamed of the truth? One thing that I do know is that I'd better do something fast because if I don't, I will lose my fight with life. HELP!!

Dear Reader,

Realizing that your drug use is having negative impacts on your life and wanting to get help are the first steps in addressing your problem with crack cocaine, so kudos to you for making these efforts at change. The next step in your process of getting help and recovering is to tell someone. While this can feel incredibly daunting, reaching out to either a family member, health care provider, close friend, or even a spiritual leader may relieve some of the anxieties you have around the situation and help point you in the direction towards recovery. Keep on reading to get a sense of how to go about telling your loved ones.

First, when you're getting ready to talk to your family or friends about your drug use, you may want to prepare yourself for several possible reactions. These possible reactions could include shock, shame, bewilderment, or even anger at first, among others. While these negative reactions, or even the idea of your loved ones having them, regarding your drug use can be unnerving, it's key to remember that those initial negative reactions could be about the drug use itself and how it's affecting you. These reactions aren't necessarily about you yourself, even if they're phrased that way. Additionally, it may be helpful to remind them and yourself that by reaching out to them, you're taking the first and most difficult step towards recovery. At the end of the day, those who are closest to you will likely want to see you overcome your drug use and offer their support in any way they can. Furthermore, you might also want to consider that your loved ones may already suspect that something is wrong or know that you may be using drugs. Crack cocaine, similar to other drugs, can leave the individual using unable to control or recognize their own actions and reactions. Given how you mention your life being "on the brink," there's a chance that your loved ones may have already taken notice, even if they may not fully understand the cause.

Another aspect of your recovery process may include how to work with your loved ones during treatment. This could include strategies for continued communication with them beyond your initial conversation, as well as strategies for repairing any possible damage done to your relationships with your friends or family while you were struggling with your addiction. Furthermore, your loved ones might also want to seek out resources, such as support groups, to help them deal with their own emotions and beliefs so that they can better help you through your recovery.

If starting with your family seems too hard or intimidating, you may want to try talking to a close friend or someone else you trust first. You could also make an appointment to meet with a health care provider, addiction specialists, spiritual leader, or even call the addiction helpline if you'd rather speak to a third party and receive support confidentially. Furthermore, when you write that you may lose your fight with life, it sounds as though you have or may contemplate suicide. If this is the case, then you may want to meet with a mental health care provider to talk about these thoughts, or call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) to receive confidential support at any time of day. If you're concerned about overdosing, reaching out to a health care provider or addiction specialist to find treatment options right away may be a good place to start. 

Overall, while it may be difficult to ask, the most critical thing you can do right now is take the first step by telling your loved ones about your struggle with addiction and your desire to get help. Best wishes on your road to recovery. 

Additional Relevant Topics:

Substance Use and Recovery
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