Drug Abuse - Where to find help

Substance abuse has many disturbing aspects aside from the physical, psychological, and social damage that it can cause. With addictive medicines, the progression from a therapeutic dose—the amount prescribed by a physician—to a toxic dose may seem, to some persons, natural and even inevitable. Ingestion or injection of a lethal dose may follow as an unintended consequence.

Other factors are causes for concern. The proliferation of illicit street drugs, the rapidity with which dependence or addiction can develop, and the costs and complexity of treatment or detoxification programs all add to the dangers inherent in abuse as a spreading phenomenon. Researchers are discovering weapons that may help in some cases to make treatment more effective: naloxone (Narcan), for example, can be given intravenously to reduce the toxic effects of narcotics. But too often a drug has done irreversible harm in a human system before help arrives.

American society has begun to mobilize resources to aid those who need information, assistance, or counsel, for themselves or others, in cases of substance abuse. A National Partnership to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse has established a network of community groups to inform teenagers about narcotics and their potentially disastrous effects. Since 1997 it has been possible for parents to test their children's urine for traces of drugs with kits available over the counter at pharmacies.

Those seeking further information or help may call a toll-free number 800-COCAINE, where counselors are linked to a network of treatment centers and hospitals throughout the country. The addresses and telephone numbers of four national groups are:

Cocaine Anonymous World Services (CAWS)

P.O. Box 2000

Los Angeles, CA 90049-8000 (310) 559-5833

National Family Partnership (NFP)

11159-B South Towne Square St. Louis, MO 63123 (314) 845-1933

National Parent Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE)

3610 DeKalb Technology Parkway Suite 105

Atlanta, GA 30340 (770) 458-9900

Narcotics Anonymous

P.O. Box 9999

Van Nuys,CA 91409 (818) 700-0700

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