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You can get help for problems with drugs or alcohol. Visit the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator to find a facility near you.
Alcoholism and drug addiction
Alcoholism and drug addiction are disabling diseases. People can be addicted to illegal drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, and prescription drugs, such as pain killers. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol have very strong cravings to use drugs or alcohol despite the negative effects. This craving can be as strong as the desire for food and water. With alcoholism, the body also needs alcohol to function, and the user goes through withdrawal when drinking is stopped. This is called physical dependence. Some drugs cause addiction without physical dependence (such as cocaine). But this does not make them less harmful. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can be treated, but it is a life-long disease. Someone who has been treated for addiction should never use alcohol or drugs again.
Abusing drugs and alcohol can limit your ability to work or take care of yourself or others. Health problems related to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction also can affect everyday living. Years of alcohol or drug use may cause disabling problems even for people who are recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction.
If you have or had alcohol or drug use disorders, you might wonder if you are protected by law as a person with a disability. Whether any one person has a disability is decided on a case-by-case basis. But generally, people who currently use illegal drugs, people whose alcohol or drug use puts others in danger, or people whose alcohol or drug use does not greatly impair a major activity of daily living are not considered disabled.
Explore other publications and websites
Alcohol: A Women's Health Issue — This booklet discusses statistics, risks, benefits, and more about women and alcohol consumption. It also talks about women and problem drinking.
National Health Observance — Alcohol Awareness Month Online Toolkit — Alcohol Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and encourage people to make healthy, safe choices. This toolkit can help you keep track of your drinking, set a drinking limit, and cut back if necessary.
NIDA InfoFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction — This fact sheet explains some of the myths about people who use and abuse drugs, genetic and environmental factors that play a role in drug use, and treatment options.
Should You Talk to Someone About a Drug, Alcohol, or Mental Health Problem? — Lists questions consumers can ask themselves to help them decide whether to seek help for a substance abuse problem, a mental health issue, or both. Urges those who answered "yes" to any of the questions to seek help and lists resources for more information.
Taking Medicines Safely After Alcohol or Drug Abuse Recovery: Your Doctor Can Help (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — This fact sheet discusses the important role a doctor can play in one's recovery from alcohol or drug abuse. A doctor can recommend and prescribe medications, and offer counseling and partnership on the road to recovery.
Connect with other organizations
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, SAMHSA
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), SAMHSA, OPHS, HHS
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, HHS
National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, HHS
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Content last updated September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated September 22, 2009.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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