Mind & Body

Where And How To Get Help For A Substance Use Problem

Information in this article is adapted from the In Your CornerOpioid and Other Drug Awareness Toolkit.”

Addiction can be treated. About 22 million people in the U.S. are in recovery. Recovery is a process of change where people improve their health and wellness, live self directed lives, and work to reach their full potential. 

There are many types of substance use. How substance use affects a person’s life can vary. Recovery is personal and can happen in many ways. Treatment may include medication, a stay in a hospital setting, support in a community setting, peer support, or a combination of these. You may also have heard of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). To find out more about different types of help read our article here.

Here’s where to call for treatment services:

  • If you or someone you care about needs help with a substance use problem, call the Alameda County Substance Use Referral Helpline at 844-682-7215. This helpline is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for screening and treatment referrals .
  • If you’re outside of Alameda County you can also call the national helpline at 1-800-622-HELP (4357). The helpline offers free, private, 24 hours a day/7 days a week treatment referral and information (in English and Spanish) for people and families facing mental health and substance use disorders.

What if they do not want help? 

Someone using substances may not want to change or get help. You can encourage them to reduce the possibility of harm until they’re ready to stop. Harm reduction strategies can help reduce negative impacts of drug use. Here are some examples:

  1. Changing to a lower dose to lower the risk of overdoses.
  2. Taking turns using substances in a group so someone is alert enough to help if there is an overdose.
  3. Switching from injecting substances to smoking or snorting. 
  4. Making sure that at least one person in the group using substances has Naloxone.
  5. Not using alone. Making sure that you have a friend with you to watch out for you.
  6. Syringe access programs provide sterile syringes, safer drug use supplies and education to people who inject drugs.
  7. Learn about and share with other people what the signs and symptoms of an overdose are, and what to do in the event of an overdose. This can include sharing information and access to Naloxone, the drug that counters opioid overdose.
  8. Overdose deaths from fentanyl have gone up in recent years. Many people consume fentanyl without knowing. Using test strips may help you know if there is fentanyl in the substance you are taking.


Harm reduction programs give out supplies like syringes, Naloxone, and fentanyl test strips. 

Read more about the importance of designated drivers


In Your Corner is an Alameda County Young Adult Opioid Initiative led by the Alameda County Probation Department as part of a comprehensive Opioid Initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.