Step by Step Guides to Finding Treatment for Drug Use Disorders
Treatment Information

This is Archived Content. This content is available for historical purposes only. It may not reflect the current state of science or language from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Find current research and publications at

What will the doctor ask me?

The doctor will ask you a series of questions about your use of alcohol and drugs and other risky behaviors like driving under the influence or riding with other people who have been using drugs or alcohol. Your doctor can help you the best if you tell the truth. The doctor might also ask for a urine and/or blood test.  This will provide important information about your drug use and how it is affecting your health.

If your goal is to truly get better and get your old life back, you should cooperate with your doctor. If you think problems at home are only making it harder to stay away from drugs and alcohol, share that information with your doctor. If your doctor recommends counseling or treatment, you should give it a try. There is a whole network of trained adults out there who want to help you.

Graphic of components of drug addiction treatment with an outer and inner circle. The outer circle lists vocational services, mental health services, medical services, educational services, HIV/AIDS services, legal services, and family services. The inner circle lists assessment, evidence-based treatment, substance use monitoring, clinical and case management, recovery support programs, and continuing care. Photo by NIDA
Components of Comprehensive Drug Use Treatment
The best treatment programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the needs of the individual patient.

What is treatment like?

Treatment for drug problems is tailored to each patient's unique drug use patterns and other medical, psychiatric, and social problems.

Some treatment centers offer outpatient treatment programs, which would allow you to stay in school, at least part-time.  Some teens and young adults, though, do better in inpatient (residential) treatment, where you stay overnight for a period of time. An addiction specialist can advise you about your best options.

NIDA has created an online publication outlining the best treatment principles for your age group. You might want to have these materials handy when you talk to treatment centers, to help you ask the right questions.

Who will be helping me in treatment?

Different kinds of addiction specialists will likely be involved in your care—including doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and others. They will work as a team.

Are there medications that can help me stop using?

Yes. Medications are currently available to treat addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and opioids (heroin and prescription pain relievers), and your treatment team might recommend one of those medicines. There are also medicines to treat mental health conditions (such as depression) that might be contributing to the addiction. In addition, medication is sometimes prescribed to help you feel better during drug withdrawal. When medication is available, it can be combined with behavioral therapy to ensure success for most patients. Some treatment centers follow the philosophy that they should not treat a drug addiction with other drugs, but research shows that with many drug issues, including opioid use disorders, using medication is generally the most effective approach. 

Read more about what treatments are available to treat your addiction.

What kind of counseling should I get?

Behavioral treatments ("talk therapy") help teens and young adults increase healthy life skills and learn how to be happy without drugs. They can give you some coping skills and will keep you motivated to recover from your drug problem.

Treatment can be one-on-one with a doctor, but some of the most effective treatments for teens are ones that involve one or more of your parents or other family members. You can read more about the different kinds of behavioral treatment options.