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Help for Drug Addiction: Steps to Take for WA State Residents

Substance abuse is continually skyrocketing across the entire country. Due in part to the current boom in opioid abuse which has reached epidemic proportions, it seems that drug abuse is only trending upwards. And the state of Washington is no exception either. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you equip yourself with the knowledge to understand addiction, recognize the signs of drug abuse, find the right treatment facility for you, and commit to a treatment plan. Doing so will not only help you see the world with a clearer head, it could actually end up saving your life as well.

Combating Drug Use in WA State

Despite the gorgeous scenery Washington state offers its citizens, this especially green and beautiful area is home to surprisingly high numbers of drug abusers. In fact, the state of WA has consistently ranked higher than the national average since 2010 in terms of percentage of the population that’s both heavily abused alcohol and developed an illicit drug dependence. In fact, the problem has gotten so out of control (especially with regards to heroin) that lawmakers are frantically trying to curb the growth by passing new and harsher legislation. The new bill would effectively force anyone who falls under either of these three criteria to be involuntarily admitted to a heroin rehabilitation center:

  • Heroin addicts that have been arrested for possessing the drug three times in one year
  • Anyone who has been hospitalized due to heroin use
  • Individuals that have three or more track marks

With the increasingly harsh legal repercussions for substance addiction, there’s never been a better time to quit your drug addiction. But, first thing’s first: you have to know you’re addicted before you can recover.

What Does Drug Addiction Look Like?

Recognizing the signs of drug and alcohol abuse is one of the first steps toward combating and ultimately recovering from substance addiction. To an active drug user, this can be one of the most difficult steps to take in the recovery process. Science has shown that, contrary to much popular belief, substance addiction recovery isn’t simply a matter of willpower. Consistent and frequent substance abuse actually changes the physical makeup of your brain, making it near impossible to simply quit through sheer force of will alone. The definition of addiction, then, is a physical dysfunction in your brain’s reward system that drives you to seek out more substance abuse. And once your brain becomes rewired to promote drug-seeking behaviors (which can happen surprisingly quickly), you may find yourself justifying your alcohol or drug addiction more and more. As such, you may need to look at your behaviors objectively before you can truly realize you actually have a substance abuse problem. Here are a few behaviors to watch for:

  • You find yourself increasing the amount or potency of the drug to increase your high.
  • You have intense cravings for the drug that can be both physical and mental.
  • You no longer participate in activities you used to enjoy.
  • You avoid social outings with old friends who don’t use.
  • You compromise your integrity through behaviors to get the drug (e.g. lying, cheating, stealing).
  • You’ve tried to quit before but can’t maintain abstinence.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop.

If you’ve experienced a number of these symptoms before with regards to your substance abuse, you may be suffering from addiction. And that means the best way to break free from your addiction’s clutches is by entering into a recovery treatment center.

What to Look for In a Washington Treatment Center: Facility Type

Finding a treatment facility that’s right for you can take a bit of research since not all rehab centers are created equally. In fact, there are some facilities that might end up not only doing nothing to treat your underlying cause of substance abuse but could also send you to the poor house at the same time. On the other hand, heading to a free clinic might not be the best idea either. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many people now have access to treatment options that might have been otherwise out of their price range. And while this is a viable option for people who simply can’t afford other facilities, settling for a treatment center just because of the price tag can end up being disastrous for your drug addiction. The main reason to avoid free clinics is that they are less likely to provide treatment options that are evidence-based in nature. These particular protocols have been proven effective by numerous trials and experimentation procedures so the science backs up the results. There are both evidence-based pharmacotherapies (like treating opioid addiction with buprenorphine or alcoholism with acamprosate) and behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT. When you’re looking for a treatment center, be sure to see what evidence-based therapies the facility uses. When it comes to the size of the clinic, you’ll want to be on the lookout for a low patient-to-staff ratio as well as facilities that are staffed 24 hours a day. A treatment center with disproportionate numbers of patients and staff members may end up providing you with lower quality care. What’s more, an under staffed center might actually be a danger to your health should a medical problem arise.

What to Look for In a Washington Treatment Center: Personalized Treatment

Another factor to be on the lookout for is personalized treatment plans. We are all different, both psychologically and physically. And when it comes to how our mind and bodies react to both an addiction to a chemical and the recovery from that addiction, there’s no cookie cutter treatment that’ll work for everyone. That’s why your treatment plan needs to be catered to your specific situation and needs in order to actually be effective. For example, some facilities simply aren’t set up to provide a dual diagnosis for patients, leading to temporary relief from drug addiction but ultimately no change in the state of a concurrent disorder like depression. And given how common it is for mental health disorders to accompany substance abuse, entering a facility that isn’t equipped to handle co-occurring disorders may be setting you up for relapse, even if you aren’t consciously aware of any other issues you may have.

What to Look for In a Washington Treatment Center: Aftercare

Finally, aftercare is absolutely crucial to your success in a drug or alcohol abuse center. Your addiction doesn’t magically disappear when you’ve stepped out the doors of your addiction center. As a former addict, you need to be constantly on guard against cravings, triggers, slips, and relapse. And that takes a bit of work. Studies have shown that continual engagement in therapy has been particularly effective at preventing relapse. What’s more, learning techniques for managing stress (the notorious cause for many relapses) is instrumental to your full recovery and the best facilities will work with you to develop these stress management skills.

Coping with Relapse

While the best treatment centers in the world can dramatically change your recovery process, the tough truth is that many drug addicts will end up relapsing. In fact, estimates are that 40% to 60% of substance abusers will relapse at one point or another. But these numbers are actually in line with other chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. The takeaway here is that although drug addiction relapse is likely, it doesn’t mean that treatment has failed entirely. What’s important is that you make the effort to get back into treatment and get the help you need, before it gets worse. Full recovery from addiction undoubtedly takes work. But more importantly, it takes persistence.

Finding Help for Your Drug Addiction in Washington

Drug addiction doesn’t have to rule the rest of your life. Recognizing addiction for what it is, spotting the warning signs, finding a recovery facility, and committing to a treatment plan are all steps that need to be taken in order to move towards a drug-free life. And while recovery in the state of WA is a winding road to be sure, what’s waiting for you at the end is well worth the drive.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016 March). Co-occurring Disorders. Retrieved from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015). Behavioral health Barometer: Washington, 2015. Retrieved from