Do You Need Rehab? 7 Signs That You May Need Treatment

Medically Reviewed

Does your use of drugs or alcohol indicate that you need to enroll in a drug rehab program? Consider these seven signs that addiction treatment is necessary.

1. Driving a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated

Getting behind the wheel of a car after taking any mind-altering drug, legal or illegal, is driving under the influence. This can lead to intensive legal problems and death of the driver, their passengers, and others on the road.

There is no justifiable reason for driving after drinking or using over-the-counter medication, prescription drugs, or illegal substances. It doesn’t matter how close the driver is to their destination, how much they want to get to the next place, or if they “only” had a few.

Marijuana and Prescription Medications That are Taken For a Legitimate Reason, as Well as Street Drugs Like Crystal Meth and Heroin, All Degrade the Driver’s Ability to:

  • Process stimulus and information external to the car
  • Recognize issues on the road that require driver adaptation
  • Manage internal thoughts and what is happening inside the car
  • Reflexively respond to unexpected issues

A study on trends in drugged driving published in the American Journal of Epidemiology emphasized the fact that it is not just the use of alcohol that is driving the high rate of deaths on the road due to drugged driving. The most commonly detected drug among drivers arrested for DUI was marijuana, and rates of use of other drugs of abuse, like prescription drugs, have been rising as well. The study also found that it is not just young people who are driving while under the influence, but about 25 percent of drugged drivers responsible for fatal car accidents were over the age of 50.

Another study found that while 9 percent of teens reported driving after drinking alcohol, 12 percent said they got behind the wheel of a car after using marijuana. The notion that a drug is harmless because it is legal or prescribed by a doctor is false. It does not make it safer to use before performing any activity that requires presence and focused attention. The decision to drive while under the influence even one time indicates a serious use of substances that needs to be reconsidered.

2. No Longer Taking Required Medication For Serious Medical or Mental Health Disorders

If you are diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety, or if you are struggling with chronic pain, diabetes, or another ongoing medical issue but choosing to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol rather than actively pursuing medical care, it’s a sign that it is time to connect with treatment.

It’s important to note that, if this describes you, you are not alone. As of 2014, almost 8 million Americans were living with co-occurring disorders, or addiction and another disorder.

This means there is an incredible body of research into how best to treat the issue and that treatment that addresses both disorders simultaneously is most effective.

3. Getting Arrested on Drug-related Charges

The National Institute of Justice’s Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM II) program monitors the drug tests from men arrested in five counties across the country, including Manhattan, Denver, Atlanta, Sacramento, and Chicago. These drug tests check for 10 legal and illegal substances, not including alcohol. The most recent results found that:


  • 63 percent to 83 percent of arrestees tested positive for drugs
  • 12 percent to 50 percent had multiple drugs in their system at the time of arrest
  • 34 percent to 59 percent of arrestees had marijuana in their system, making it the most common drug of use among arrestees
  • Opiate drugs like heroin, painkillers, and synthetic opiates were increasingly found in drug tests from arrestees

Whether the arrest is for a crime committed to get more drugs of abuse, while under the influence of drugs, or both, loss of freedom connected to drug use is a clear sign that drug rehab is needed.

4. Losing Employment, Important Relationships, or Financial Stability

Whether the drug of choice is marijuana, heroin, or any combination of substances, abuse of the substance that leads to loss on a personal level indicates the need for treatment.

Many lose significant relationships with a spouse or close family members, custody of their children, and their ability to manage their home finances.

In fact, loss of employment as a result of drug or alcohol use is one of the biggest red flags that substance abuse treatment is needed because it frequently precedes other social consequences. According to Facing Addiction with National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

  • There are almost 15 million Americans who abuse illegal drugs, and 70 percent of them are employed.
  • Marijuana is the most common substance of abuse among employees.
  • Use and abuse of prescription drugs, especially opiate pain relievers such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, is increasing among American employees.
  • Among workplace fatalities, 11 percent of victims were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, and 16 percent of employees admitted to the emergency room because of a workplace accident were under the influence of alcohol at the time.

5. Experiencing Significant Medical Issues Due to Drug Use

In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died of a drug overdose, a number that was 9.6 times higher than the rate of overdose deaths in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Surviving an overdose should always be a shocking wake-up call that immediate medical detox followed by intensive therapy is necessary. It is a matter of survival. Though you may have been lucky enough to survive an overdose, it is no indication that the next one will not be fatal.

6. Causing Harm While Under the Influence

Risky behavior while under the influence or in relation to addiction, such as intentional self-harm, accidental self-harm, and suicidal thoughts or intent must be addressed immediately through treatment for both the addiction and the underlying mental health issues. Deadly choices while taking drugs or alcohol are serious signs of a need for help.

Also, harm brought to others is another sign that the individual wrestling with drug use needs treatment. Examples of this harm include:

  • Being pregnant or breastfeeding an infant while using any illicit substance for any reason
  • Caring for dependent children, elderly, or special needs people while under the influence
  • Exposing other people to secondhand smoke from cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs ingested by smoking
  • Driving while under the influence and putting passengers, people in other cars, pedestrians, and cyclists at risk
  • Putting others at risk of infectious disease if a carrier of hepatitis C, HIV, or other contagious viruses

7. Trying to Quit Using Drugs Without Success

No matter what the specific circumstances or problems caused by drug use or their severity, the biggest sign that someone needs drug addiction treatment is that they are unable to stop the use of any or all substances on their own.

If your loved one has repeatedly promised to stop drinking or quit getting high, or if you have tried to moderate your use of drugs or alcohol with no sustainable success, it is time to connect with intensive treatment services that will provide:

  • Medical detox if needed
  • Personalized assessment and evaluation
  • Unique treatment goals
  • A tailored treatment plan
  • Ability to check in and reassess the efficacy of the treatment plan
  • Support during the transition from inpatient to independent living

What to do if You Need Drug Rehab

If any of the above signs are clearly prevalent in your life, the time to act is now. The sooner treatment begins, the easier it will be to make the changes necessary to live a strong new life in recovery. Even if you are not at a point of readiness when it comes to enrolling in drug rehab, take the time to explore the options that are available to you.

  • Consider what needs should be met by the drug rehab you choose, such as medical detox or treatment for co-occurring medical or mental health disorders.
  • Learn more about the different types of treatment options available.
  • Call your insurance provider and ask questions about what is covered by your policy and how to get coverage if you need it.
  • Reach out and connect with a treatment consultant who can answer your questions about treatment for your specific situation.

The more you know, the better equipped you will be to get started when you are ready.

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