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Crisis Rehabs Guide

Identifying addiction and seeking treatment can feel overwhelming. While it can be difficult to know where to start, our crisis guide can provide answers to your questions and help you begin your journey toward recovery.

What Do I Do if There is an Emergency? 

While you are thinking about seeking treatment and looking for answers, please know that if you are experiencing withdrawal, overdose, or any type of medical emergency connected to drugs or alcohol, call 911. Reach out right away if you ever feel that you or your loved one is in danger.

Defining Crisis 

When speaking about psychology, a crisis is a short-term, substantial change in one’s mental health functioning or circumstances. Someone experiencing a psychological crisis may undergo major changes in their mood, thoughts, or behavior. During a mental health crisis, an individual may present behavior that keeps them from taking care of themselves or being a functioning member of society. Those going through a mental health crisis may also pose a threat of hurting themselves or others.6

Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness may play a role in a crisis. If a person is experiencing a crisis, they need support from friends, family, and professionals.

Situations that may lead to a mental health crisis include:6

  • School or work stressors: This can include anxiety about upcoming assignments or responsibilities, discrimination, and feeling unrecognized or unappreciated by co-workers/managers/teachers.
  • Home or environment stressors: This can include changes in relationships, the sickness or death of a loved one, challenges with family, and trauma.
  • Additional stressors: This can include changes in prescription medication; the misuse of alcohol or drugs; and experiencing community violence or upheaval or natural disasters.

A mental health crisis may occur with alcohol or drug abuse. As mental health suffers, substance use may result, and vice versa. The abuse of drugs or alcohol can very negatively impact mental health. When an individual is dealing with alcohol or drug misuse, a crisis may reveal to loved ones that the individual is at their lowest point—and they need immediate help.7

What is Addiction? 

Addiction is a chronic illness, like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma.. People often think addiction is a choice or that it can be controlled by the person who is experiencing addiction. While the initial decision to take drugs or use alcohol is a choice, the majority of people who use drugs or alcohol never become addicted. Addiction is a complex brain disorder which lacks a single, specific cause. It’s influenced by many factors, from genetics to an individual’s personal experiences.8

It is impossible to predict who will become addicted. Once someone develops an addiction, they experience alterations in their brain function that affect their ability to make rational choices. A person who is a addicted to drugs or alcohol may be diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD), is the compulsive use of substances despite negative consequences from using them.1

How Do I Know if I Have a Drug or Alcohol Problem? 

Not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol will be diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Some people might misuse on occasion, and you might find yourself wondering if you or your loved one has a problem.

Only a doctor or mental health professional can fully diagnose an SUD. However, some signs may include:2

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and friendships.
  • Isolating from others.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Family conflict.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Acting erratically.
  • Problems at work.

How Do I Begin to Address My Addiction?

Taking the first steps into recovery can be scary. The first thing to do is to understand the treatment options that are available. An individual’s needs will help to determine the most effective treatment type. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating SUDs.

For many people, the first stage of treatment is detox, though this is not necessary for all types of SUDs. Detox is only the first stage of treatment, the process in which a substance is removed from a person’s body.3 By itself, completing withdrawal management during detox rids the drug from the body but does little to change long-term substance misuse.9

Treatment Settings

Treatment settings include:3

  • Inpatient treatment, where people stay at a facility 24/7 over a specific period of time. Patients receive comprehensive treatment, including group and individual therapy, typically from 30-90 days.
  • Outpatient treatment, which is sometimes a stepdown from inpatient treatment but can also be the first stage of treatment after detox. Outpatient allows patients to receive treatment during the day but return home at night.

Forms of Treatment

Forms of treatment include:3

  • Group counseling and mutual-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, which can help provide social support for people in recovery.
  • Individual counseling, which typically uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other evidence-based behavioral health therapies to help identify ways an individual can cope with stress that do not involve drugs or alcohol.
  • Medication, which may include antidepressants or other types of psychoactive medicine to address co-occurring disorders such as depression. Additional types of medication are used to treat certain specific SUDs. For example, people with an opioid use disorder can benefit from prescription medicines such as buprenorphine, which helps control cravings for opioids.
  • Family therapy can help motivate a person to stay in treatment and provide support to the person in recovery. Family therapy is particularly important in working with adolescents who have SUDs.5

Helping a loved one struggling with addiction can be difficult. You may be frustrated and confused by your loved one’s behaviors and wonder why they can’t stop using. It’s important to remember that addiction is a chronic disease and not a choice.

Therapy may help you to learn how to better cope with your loved one’s substance use. Families can be an enormous source of support for loved ones in rehab and recovery, but they can also enable a family member’s SUD by protecting them from the consequences of their use.4

 Who Can Help Me? 

Facing the reality of your substance abuse and pursuing treatment may seem impossible but know that there is always hope—and help. Contact one of our admissions navigators. They are here 24/7 to provide the guidance, information, and support you need as you or your loved one begins the journey toward health and sobriety.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). What is an addiction?
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). What are some signs and symptoms of someone with a drug use problem?
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): What is drug addiction treatment?
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). How can family and friends make a difference in the life of someone needing treatment?
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2004). Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Rockville (MD): Chapter 1 Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy.
  6. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2018). Navigating a mental health crisis: A NAMI resource guide for those experiencing a mental health emergency.
  7. Miller, S. C., Fiellin, D. A., Rosenthal, R. N., & Saitz, R. (2019). The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine, Sixth Edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  8. American Society of Addiction Medication. (n.d.). Definition of Addiction.