What to Expect When Calling an Addiction Hotline

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Calling an addiction hotline for the first time can be intimidating. It takes a lot of courage for a person to decide to make the call, and once they do, they are not sure what to expect.

Making the decision to recover from an addiction is a major step, and it is one that should be commended. Calling an addiction hotline does not have to be intimidating in any way; especially once a person knows what to expect.

What are Addiction Hotlines?

An addiction or substance abuse hotline, as they are often called, is a phone number people can call when they need help for their drug or alcohol abuse problem. The addict themselves can call, but sometimes the number may be called by someone who is concerned for a friend or family member.

When an addict or alcoholic calls an addiction hotline for themselves, a staff member will talk with them about possible treatment options. When a loved one calls, they may be inquiring about what they can do to get their addicted friend or family member into treatment.

Types of Addiction Hotlines

There are a few different types of addiction hotlines. The first is those that have contracted with multiple drug and alcohol rehab programs all over the country. They are able to talk with people virtually anywhere in the United States and direct them toward the type of help they need. This has its benefits because calling this type of hotline gives people a lot of options to choose from as far as going to rehab.

The other type of addiction hotline is one that is operated by a private drug and alcohol treatment program. When people call the number, they will be able to talk with someone who works at that facility. A lot of people like this option better because they spend time doing their own research on various rehab programs and what they have to offer. They may want to choose their own rehabilitation center, and calling the addiction hotline is the best way for them to get started.

One of the things people appreciate about calling an addiction hotline is that their phone call is kept confidential. Callers often worry about other people finding out about their substance abuse problems. But staff members will always keep phone calls private.

What Should People Expect When Calling an Addiction Hotline?

Before calling an addiction hotline, it is important for people to be prepared to answer the various questions that will be asked during the call. It is critical for the caller to be as honest as possible, and remember, these calls are completely confidential. Honesty is vital because without having all the necessary information, the staff member will not be able to refer the caller to the right type of assistance.

Questions That May Be Asked When Calling an Addiction Hotline

It is the staff member’s job to gather as much information as possible from the caller. That way, they will have a more complete picture of the situation and be able to offer the right kind of help. There are several questions that may be asked when a person calls an addiction hotline and they include the following.

Is the Caller’s Life in Immediate Danger or are They in an Emergency Situation?

This will probably be the very first question the staff member asks. Sometimes people call addiction hotlines when they really should be calling 911 or another emergency number. The staff member will want to make sure that the caller is safe and not in harm’s way. Once it is determined that they are OK, the staff member will proceed with additional questions.

What Substance is the Caller Addicted to or Struggling With?

It is important for addiction hotline staff to know what types of substances the caller is addicted to or using. This is because this information determines their next steps. During rehab, addictions are often treated very similarly. But there are some differences based on the type of drug the person is using.

For example, a person who is addicted to marijuana and no other drugs will probably only need to go to rehab to recover. But the same is not true for a person who is addicted to an opioid drug like heroin or Oxycodone. These addictions are much more serious in nature and they require a specific type of care.

Callers should make sure to disclose all of the drugs they or their loved ones are using. It is vital for addiction hotline staff to have all the information before they make any recommendations or referrals.

How Often Does the Caller Use Their Drug of Choice?

It is important for addiction hotline staff to know how often a person is using their drug of choice. This information can help them determine how serious the person’s addiction is. In turn, they can make an educated recommendation about how much treatment will be needed in order for the person to recover.

Some people use drugs and alcohol daily as a way of coping with their everyday lives, or simply for recreational purposes. Others may only use sporadically, but they still might find it hard to stop.

How Long Has the Caller Been Using?

Addiction hotline staff will also need to know how long the caller (or their loved one) has been using. It is a good idea to give as much historical information as possible to answer this question. For example, if a person is now addicted to cocaine, but they started abusing substances by excessive alcohol use and smoking marijuana, this should be communicated.

People who have been addicts for a longer period of time often need a higher level of care. When someone is relatively new to substance abuse, it is possible that they have not yet even formed an addiction. They may still need professional help, but they may not have progressed to the point of needing rehab in order to stop. In situations like these, regular therapy sessions and 12-Step meetings might give them all the support they need.

Does the Caller Have Any Physical or Mental Health Issues They are Aware of?

Addiction hotline staff will ask about any physical health issues or mental health issues that the addict may be struggling with. This is because of the fact that most addictions typically have a root cause. For example:

  • A person who is constantly abusing prescription painkillers or heroin may be doing it to help their pain.
  • A person who has become an alcoholic may actually be trying to self-medicate away their anxiety symptoms.
  • A person who abuses hallucinogenic drugs, such as mushrooms, might be doing it because it makes them feel less depressed.
  • A person who is abusing stimulants may have untreated and undiagnosed ADHD.
  • A young person who has gotten addicted to inhalants may have started using them because of peer pressure. But before long, they found they could not stop.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that as many as 50% of people who go to rehab are also dealing with mental health issues. This means that they have co-occurring disorders, which require a specific type of treatment.

As we alluded to above, it is possible for people with co-occurring disorders to be completely unaware of them. But these individuals need treatment programs that offer dual diagnosis treatment, which is designed to meet those needs.

Has the Caller Ever Gotten Treatment for Substance Abuse in the Past?

Some of the people who call addiction hotlines are calling for the first time. They have never been to rehab before, and they have never reached out to anyone for help before. Some of these individuals may do very well in a facility that offers outpatient treatment, such as an IOP or PHP. But that might not be the case for a person who has been to rehab in the past.

Unfortunately, a lot of people relapse after going to rehab. NIDA has reported that the relapse rate for addiction treatment is between 40-60%, which is actually similar to other diseases. Addiction hotline staff should ask about any other rehab programs the caller has worked with in the past and what type of treatment they received. This will help them decide the next steps that should be taken. For instance, a person who has gone through an inpatient treatment program but relapsed might need long-term rehab to help them be successful.

Is the Caller Ready to go to Drug and Alcohol Rehab to Get Help?

The final question most addiction hotlines will ask is whether the caller (or their loved one) is ready to seek help at an alcohol and drug rehab. Quite often, the answer to this question is yes. At that point, they will receive a referral and any other additional information they might need about how to get started.

But sometimes the answer is no; especially if the caller is not the addict, but they are calling for a loved one. If that is the case, the staff member may offer additional suggestions that can help. One of those suggestions might be to contact a professional interventionist and stage an intervention.

Interventions have been known to be very successful. They involve a meeting that includes the interventionist, the addict and various friends and family members. The goal is to present compelling reasons for the addict to seek help through drug and alcohol rehab. Quite often, the addict will agree to go, and they can even leave immediately for treatment.

Is it Possible to Text an Addiction Hotline?

Not all addiction hotlines have a texting option, but some of them do. Others might have chat features enabled on their websites, so anyone who wants to contact them can do so that way. Texting or chatting can help take some of the pressure off someone who might be nervous about contacting an addiction hotline. But eventually, it may still be necessary to speak on the phone.

There really is no need for anyone to be nervous about calling an addiction hotline. The call is 100% confidential and the staff members that answer the phones are highly trained professionals. They know how to answer any questions the caller might have and can direct them to a place where they can get the help they need.

Are There Addiction Hotlines for Certain Types of Drugs?

There may be some addiction hotlines that advertise that they specialize in treating certain types of addictions. But for the most part, all of them provide treatment for every addiction and can offer referrals for all types of rehab.

What is the Difference Between Calling an Addiction Hotline and Calling 911?

Even though an addiction hotline can be useful for people who are struggling with substance abuse and in need of help, they are not equipped to handle emergency situations. For example, it is not appropriate to contact an addiction hotline if a person is concerned about a possible drug overdose or alcohol poisoning. Situations like those require immediate medical assistance and the caller should be dialing 911 instead.

Is There a Risk of Getting Arrested if a Person Calls an Addiction Hotline?

Unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid to call addiction hotlines for help because they are worried about the legal consequences of it. They may be concerned that calling will automatically trigger a call to the police and they might get arrested.

Please rest assured that the sole purpose of addiction hotlines is to get the caller help for their substance abuse problem. It is not to inform the police. All calls will be handled without any judgment and without notifying the authorities.

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Do you have an addiction or do you know someone who does? At SpringBoard Recovery, we offer an addiction hotline that is ready to receive your call. Please contact us right away to get started on your recovery journey.


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