Frequently Asked Questions
1. I do not have any health insurance. How can I get treatment for myself or my family member’s substance abuse problem?
Centre County Drug and Alcohol has funding available to help those individuals who need treatment, but have neither health insurance nor the financial means to pay for services. The first step is to contact us to discuss your interests and options for services at (814) 355-6744.
2. My health insurance will not pay for drug and alcohol treatment – what should I do?
All group health plans in Pennsylvania, including insurance and health maintenance organizations are required by law (Act 106 of 1989) to provide coverage for the treatment of alcohol and drug addictions. Your treatment provider may be able to assist you in the appeal process.
You may be eligible for county support if you insurance does not pay, or only pays a portion of the cost. Please discuss your situation with the admissions staff at the treatment facility and/or with one of our case management staff.
3. What can I do if I think someone I know has a drug or alcohol problem?
As a person becomes dependent on alcohol or other drugs, he or she develops the ability to deny that there is a problem. A person has to be willing to change the behaviors and stop his/her drug or alcohol use. Candid discussion with the person is important. Talk about your concerns and encourage him/her to seek treatment. Offer information about where to get treatment. Do a self-assessment with him/her (see question 5).
If the person refuses to get the intensive treatment needed, he/she might be willing to start with outpatient services. This may be the first step in the right direction. It is important that you not blame yourself for the person’s behavior or decision to use alcohol or other drugs.
4. What are Twelve-Step Programs?
All Twelve-Step programs find their roots in Alcoholics Anonymous – which was formed in 1935. Twelve-Step programs offer regular meetings where alcoholics and addicts try to help each other stay sober by providing a non-judgmental support network. These groups stress that alcoholism/addiction is an illness – not a character flaw – which can be treated by working a series of twelve steps that emphasize accepting one’s powerlessness over addict ion and dependency on a force beyond the self. Members work through the steps at their own pace and usually with the help of another member called a "sponsor." These programs stress honest self-assessment, humility, and reliance on others for support and encouragement.
Many other self-help groups have adopted the twelve-step philosophy. These groups include Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Likewise family and friend support groups like Al-Anon, Alateen, and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) have adapted the 12 steps for their own use.
There are also programs such as Smart Recovery which are abstinence-based self-help programs, focusing on empowerment and developing a positive lifestyle.
Information on local Twelve-Step groups can be obtained by calling the following numbers or websites:
- Alcoholics Anonymous – (814) 237-3757
- Narcotics Anonymous – 1-800-494-3414
- Al-Anon and Alateen – (814) 237-5855
- Celebrate Recovery
- Smart Recovery
5. How can I tell if my substance use is problematic?
Early warning signs of problem behaviors include:
- Changes in personality
- Unpredictable or inconsistent behaviors
- Deterioration in personal hygiene and appearance
- Job or financial difficulties
- Loss of interest in activities which seemed important
- Isolating yourself from family and friends
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleep disturbances, restlessness, nightmares)
- Impairment of memory and judgment
- Decline in school performance
- Decreased motivation and drive
- Outburst in temper usually brought about because of lowered tolerance to pressure and stress
- Disciplinary problems increase
- Legal difficulties
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have any of your friends or family members ever expressed concern about your alcohol/ drug use?
- Have you ever experienced problems with family, friends or co-workers because of your D&A use?
- Do you feel more comfortable around others after drinking or getting high?
- If you can’t use alcohol or other drugs, do you ever feel shaky, nervous, anxious or irritable?
- Do you think your substance use has hurt the people close to you in any way?
- Have you ever experienced cravings for any substances?
- Have you ever missed work, days at school, or time with family because of your alcohol or drug use?
- Have you experienced any employment difficulties related to your D&A use, or are you in debt because of your use?
- Have you built up a tolerance for alcohol or other substances (i.e., Does it take more to feel the same effect?)?
- Have you ever found it difficult to stop or cut down your alcohol/ drug use?
- Do you ever drink or use more than you intended to?
- Have you ever had a blackout?
- Have you ever woken up with the shakes after drinking or using?
- Do you ever drink or get high in the morning?
- Do you use drugs or alcohol to deal with problems?
Answering "yes" to any of these questions may indicate a problem with drug or alcohol use. If you are concerned, call and ask about your options for treatment services.
6. How can I tell if my child has a drug or alcohol problem?
It’s hard to tell – symptoms such as changes in mood/attitudes, unusual temper outbursts, and changes in sleep, hobbies, and interests are common for teenagers.
The following are suggestions for reaching out to your child/teen:
- Trust your instincts. If you think your child/teen is in trouble, perhaps in need of drug addiction treatment, there’s probably a reason you feel that way. If you reach out and you’re wrong… it only shows that you care.
- Timing is important. Find a safe, quiet time where you can talk freely.
- Don’t be afraid to be open and honest. Most times, your child/teen will appreciate it.
- Talk about what you have personally observed instead of making judgments or discussing rumors.
- Talk about how you feel: worried; scared; concerned; angry; confused; etc. When you talk about your feelings instead of making accusations, you are less likely to get a defensive reaction.
- Act Now. The sooner you seek drug and alcohol treatment, the sooner your loved one will likely be able to make positive changes. The longer you wait, the more established these behaviors become. And, of course, some behaviors can be very dangerous.
- Don’t keep it a secret. If you think there is a problem, talk about it. Tell a friend, spouse, other family member, teacher, counselor, or call for assistance. We know this is hard to do, but when it comes to teen drug abuse, secrets can be deadly.
- Do the research into teen drug addiction for them. Find out about drug addiction treatment programs and other options. Even if your child acknowledges a need for help, he/she may still be resistant to treatment for fear of being punished or shamed. Let your child know that the punitive approach to treatment is long gone. Be prepared to talk about current treatment options before initiating discussion. If you need them, we can provide you with materials that you can place in your child’s hands to reduce feelings of anxiety about getting help.
- Don’t give up. If your first attempt to help a family member hasn’t had the desired effect, a different approach may be in order. Changing behavior is difficult. Get help from professionals who specialize in helping youth make meaningful behavioral changes.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need any assistance, please call us. There are no stupid questions.
7. What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder covers a number of birth defects that are caused when the mother drinks during her pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, 40,000 babies are born each year with some degree of "alcohol-related damage." Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the most common known cause of intellectual disability, and it is the only cause that is entirely preventable.
When the mother drinks, the alcohol passes through her system and into the baby through the placenta. Since the baby is much smaller and not as well developed, the alcohol remains in the baby’s body for a much longer period of time, at much higher levels. This can cause life-long damage to the child.
No level of alcohol use during pregnancy is safe. Since a woman may not know for several weeks or months, anyone who may be pregnant or is trying to get pregnant, should not use alcohol in any amount.
8. What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)?
When a pregnant woman uses alcohol and/or other drugs, these substances pass readily through her bloodstream and across the fetal blood-brain barrier. If a woman uses substances regularly, particularly throughout the third trimester, the unborn baby can develop a physical dependence to these substances. When the child is born, the flow of the drug is abruptly cut off, and the baby’s nervous system can trigger the agonizing symptoms of withdrawal. This condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
While opioid misuse is most readily associated with causing NAS, newborns may withdraw from a variety of substances including nicotine, alcohol, amphetamine-type drugs, benzodiazepines, and even certain antidepressants. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is also commonly experienced by babies whose mothers are on a prescribed regimen of methadone or buprenorphine throughout pregnancy. Despite this, doctors recommend that pregnant women with opioid use disorders remain on medication-assisted-treatment throughout pregnancy, as experiencing withdrawal symptoms during pregnancy may place the mother and baby at greater risk of harm.
Not all babies exposed to substances will have withdrawal symptoms. Those who do will typically begin showing symptoms within 24 to 72 hours after birth. However, in some cases (particularly with drugs like benzodiazepines), symptoms may not appear for several days. Withdrawal symptoms vary from mild to severe and can last from one week to three months.
For more information about NAS and the effects specific substances can have on a developing fetus, visit: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/substance-use-while-pregnant-breastfeeding
9. What is codependency? Does your office fund outpatient services for codependents?
Codependency is characterized by involvement in a relationship in which one person has extreme physical or emotional needs and the other person spends most of their time responding to those needs, usually to the point of disregarding their own needs. Codependent people tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how to “fix “other people. They often derive their own sense of self-worth from their feelings that others need their protection and intervention to survive. One example of a common codependent behavior is enabling. Enabling occurs when we do or say something that softens the consequences for the substance user/abuser. This behavior prolongs the disease and hides the symptoms from the user/abuser. Since the alcoholic/addict is often in denial of the problem, well-meaning attempts to "soften the blow" only strengthen that denial and make it easier for that person to maintain the destructive behaviors.
Having a codependent loved one can actually make it more challenging for someone struggling with a substance use disorder to quit. Because the codependent person derives their own sense of worth from caretaking and protecting the addict/alcoholic, it may be very difficult for them to accept the shift in dynamics that occurs when that person begins to get better. This may lead to feelings of anger or resentment which could trigger the addict/alcoholic to relapse and return to harmful behavior.
What can you do?
- Alateen, Al-Anon, Families Anonymous, and other community support groups are available to help you understand your needs.
- Limited funding is available through the Drug and Alcohol office for outpatient counseling services. Professional counseling can help you understand the illness of addiction and cycle of codependency and how they can affect you and your loved ones.
Visit the following online resources for more information on codependency:
10. Are prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications addictive?
People who are looking to "get high" can abuse a variety of drugs and medicines, some of which are prescription and some that are available over the counter. From cough syrup to analgesics, many non-prescription medications can be dangerous and addictive if misused. You’ll notice in most pharmacies, certain cold medications are no longer on the shelf – you have to take a card to the pharmacy to buy them. New laws now require this since these OTC medications can be abused.
Prescription drugs can be just as dangerous. Pain medications such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, and Codeine are highly addictive and can result in death if misused or combined with alcohol or other drugs.
Another category of dangerous medications are classed as benzodiazepines. Anti-anxiety medications such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan are also highly addictive and can be medically dangerous during detoxification.
Finally, youth and teens may have access to central nervous system stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderal which are often prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These can also be abused and are addictive.
It is critical that prescription and OTC medications be taken only as prescribed. They should be monitored and kept away from youth and teens. Dispose of extra medications when you have finished them, and do not use old prescription medications or others’ prescription medications. Do not be fooled into thinking that these types of drugs cannot be addictive and dangerous.
11. My church group or community organization is interested in a speaker to address alcohol, tobacco and/or other drug issues. Who should I call?
You can contact the Centre County Drug and Alcohol Office at (814) 355-6744 or the prevention staff at the Centre County Youth Service Bureau at (814) 237-5731. Both agencies offer a variety of programs which can be tailored to the needs of your organization.