How do I know I have a problem with drugs and alcohol?

Drug and alcohol addiction can look different on different people. The following are examples of things someone struggling with addiction can experience. These examples can include but is not limited to: experiencing intense cravings when you are not drinking/using, most of your thoughts involve when you are going to drink/use next, you drink/use to feel “normal,” you are physically and psychologically dependent and experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking/using, you continue to drink/use despite negative consequences, the amount of drugs/alcohol you use has steadily gone up over a period of time, you have tried to cut back or control your drinking/using and have been unsuccessful, you have done things you never thought you would do to obtain drugs/alcohol, you try to hide or downplay your drinking/using, your circle of friends has changed to people that enable your drinking/using. If any of these illustrations resonate with you, it may be an indicator you suffer from substance use disorder. There is hope for you and there is help for you.

How do I get into treatment?

Getting in to treatment can seem like a daunting task, but there are steps you can take! Before you are given a bed date, treatment centers will screen you to verify you are appropriate for a high level of care, so be completely honest about your history with drugs and alcohol, the frequency of your use, and the amount of drugs/alcohol you consume when you use. The people assessing you are not here to judge you, they are here to help, so be honest. If you are deemed appropriate for inpatient treatment, you will then be given a bed date. This can be days, and up to several weeks from the time you call. You will also need medical clearance to attend treatment. This means you must no longer be experiencing withdrawal symptoms (benzodiazepine and alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening and require medical supervision- please seek proper medical attention for benzodiazepine and alcohol detox),and you must test negative for tuberculosis and coronavirus. Upon negative testing and medical clearance, you are set for treatment

How do I pay for treatment? 

This is dependent upon whether or not you have insurance and the type of insurance you have. If you have private insurance, they will most likely pay for all of treatment. Contact your provider to verify. If you have state insurance, they will cover treatment, but not the room and board. It is possible however, to receive county funding for this portion of treatment. The Health and Human Services Department offers AODA assessments and can provide funding for treatment. This is also available for those who do not have insurance and need full funding. If you are getting an AODA assessment it is extremely important you are completely honest with the assessor about your drug/alcohol use- the duration of your use, the amount you consume, and how often you consume.

I have a bed date- now what?

Waiting for intake to treatment can be a difficult time, so surround yourself with people, places and things that support your recovery. Make daily schedules for yourself and be specific! Attend meetings, sober functions and events, spend time in nature, start to get back in touch with the things you used to love. You are about to embark on what could very well be the most remarkable journey of your life- don’t be afraid to get excited!

How long does it take to get into treatment?

In Wisconsin, there are only 250 beds for residential treatment, so getting a bed date can take anywhere from a day or two to 2-3 weeks.

What should I expect when going to an inpatient treatment facility?

Going to rehab, especially as a first timer, can be intimidating. Wondering what it will be like and what to expect are common questions all of us have before walking through the doors of treatment. Having answers to those questions can help mitigate the pre-rehab stress and anxiety. You can expect to have a rather structured schedule with a strict bed and wake up time every day. You will have a daily schedule that can include group and individual therapy, meetings, meditation, art therapy, and physical activity. You will also be expected to prepare meals with the other residents and complete daily and/or weekend chores. You will also have leisure time where you are free to read, journal, go outside, and spend time or play games with the other residents.

What do I need to bring to treatment?

The primary focus of residential treatment is to get healthier, so not much is required to bring. The most important things are yourself, willingness, and an open mind. Other essentials are several comfortable outfits, hygiene products, any non-narcotic medication you are prescribed, a journal to record your experiences, and recovery literature or a book you’ve been wanting to read.

What happens after treatment?

Aftercare is extremely important in recovery, and it is highly encouraged you attend some form of counseling or outpatient programming after completing residential treatment. Oftentimes rehabilitation centers will recommend sober living to their clients for the highest chance of achieving long-term sobriety. Please strongly consider doing this. Success rate percentages sky-rocket for those who attend some form aftercare.

Friends and Family FAQ

My loved one is struggling with drug/alcohol use- what should I do?

Drug and alcohol addiction can change your loved one into someone you no longer recognize, and that can be utterly devastating. You might experience them behaving erratically and unpleasantly towards you. Unfortunately, that is very normal for an addict/alcoholic. As hurtful as their behavior can be, it is important to remember to hate the disease of addiction and not the individual struggling. In the same breath, it is vital to not enable your loved one and excuse their behavior. Enabling often looks or feels like helping, but it is not. Enabling behavior can include downplaying the severity of their addiction, providing them with money, shielding them from consequences, i.e., letting them live with you after they have been evicted from their apartment, tolerating emotional and/or physical abuse because you believe deep down “they didn’t mean it,” ignoring their behavior and/or making excuses for them.

Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. No one has control, but you do have control over whether or not you participate in enabling behaviors. As a loved one of an addict/alcoholic, you must let them experience the social, financial, and legal consequences of their disease. When they are being saved from these consequences, the denial of their disease continues to be fed, and prolongs the vital arrival to a place of complete desperation where they are finally willing to seek and accept help.

Loving an addict/alcoholic is lonely and painful. It hurts watching your loved one slowly kill themselves in front of you, and it is easy to believe you are alone. Taking care of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being is essential. Al-anon is a fantastic resource for loved ones of struggling addicts/alcoholics. Consider attending Al-anon meetings, where you not only meet folks who are experiencing or have experienced the same things as you, but you will also have the opportunity to learn from their experiences.

What are some warning signs of substance use?

Warning signs may include but are not limited to, sudden weight fluctuation, changes in facial appearance, changes in interests and hobbies, changes in social groups, changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns, deterioration of personal grooming habits, unexplained financial problems, a general lack of motivation, sudden mood swings, increased irritability, and periods of unusual increased energy, instability, or nervousness.

Can I have a loved one committed?

The involuntary commitment process involves 3 major steps: an emergency psychiatric evaluation, inpatient treatment, and assisted outpatient treatment. If you would like to 

proceed with this process, fill out the application to petition for a third party commitment here – petitioner_information_alcohol.pdf (

When is an involuntary commitment appropriate?

A person is considered a subject for an involuntary commitment if they are mentally ill, drug dependent or developmentally disabled, and a substantial probability of physical harm to him/herself or others is evident by recent acts or omissions, attempts or threats, and the individual is a proper subject for treatment.