Substance Abuse across the Lifespan

The potential for individuals to abuse alcohol or drugs is not limited to a specific age group; teens, adults, and the elderly are at risk of over using, abusing, or misusing alcohol, illicit drugs, or medication to a point where it becomes unhealthy and possibly dangerous.  Substance abuse can be a lifelong struggle for some individuals and can affect not just them, but families and the greater community.  In addition, there are not only physical health risks from substance abuse, but also emotional and psychological problems that can arise from abuse.  Lastly, what substance abuse looks like and its causes are complex and can vary across age, drug of choice, and other individual and environmental factors.  Treatment for substance abuse requires multiple levels of interventions; from medication to individual and/or group treatment to family and community support.  With effective treatment and interventions, individuals can have a successful recovery.

Alcohol and drug use remain a problem in our society and affects a significant number of individuals across the lifespan.  According to the 2013 National Comorbidity Study on Adolescents, an estimated 21.6 million persons aged 12 or older (8.2 percent) were classified with substance abuse or dependence in the past year based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV).  More specifically, 78.2% of U.S. teens had consumed alcohol, 47.1% reported drinking 12 drinks within a year, and 15.1% met criteria for lifetime abuse.  Later in the lifespan, 11% of adults between 50 and 64 and 6.7% of adults 65 and older reported symptoms consistent with alcohol dependence or abuse (Wang & Andrande, 2013).

Resource Organizations » Substance Abuse and Addictions » North Middlesex

In Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Massachusetts Substance Abuse Information and Education Helpline

Helpline: 800-327-5050

TTY: 617-536-5872

office: 617-279-2240


The Massachusetts Substance Abuse Information and Education Helpline is a Massachusetts resource providing free and confidential information and referral for alcohol and other drug abuse problems and related concerns. The Helpline is committed to linking consumers with comprehensive, accurate, and current information about treatment and prevention services throughout Massachusetts. Individuals may call the Helpline Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to talk with a referral specialist. Language interpreters are always available.

Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program

Smokers' Helpline: 800-784-8669

The Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program is dedicated to reducing the health and economic burden of tobacco use by: preventing young people from starting to smoke, helping current smokers quit protecting children and adults from secondhand smoke, identifying and eliminating tobacco-related disparities.

Organizations without hotlines

Addiction Recovery Management Service (ARMS)



The Addiction Recovery Management Service, offered by the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization (MGPO), provides rapid access to information and support combined with outreach and care management for youth aged 15 - 25 and their families suffering from substance-related problems. ARMS supplements the traditional inpatient and outpatient continuum and bridges the gaps in disjointed systems of treatment with leading expertise and high quality care management. Building on the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) medical, clinical, and addiction research resources within the MGH Center for Addiction Medicine, ARMS facilitates comprehensive, research-informed, care maximizing the chances for youth recovery.

AIDS Action Committee

617-437-6200 (Boston office)

617-661-3040 (Cambridge Office)

AIDS Action Needle Exchange distributes and exchanges syringes to injection drug users (IDUs). Needle Exchange is one of four state-sanctioned and state-funded syringe exchange programs in Massachusetts. The program also operates a drop-in center where members can access risk reduction supplies such as crack kits, safer injection supplies, and condoms. Members can participate in periodic groups as well as receive individual risk reduction counseling, information and referrals to medical, substance use, and other social service providers. Needle Exchange is also one of the state’s pilot sites for the distribution of Narcan, a nasal spray distributed to IDUs and their network of supportive family and friends to reverse potentially fatal overdoses.

Alanon and Alateen

508-366-0556 (MA office)

(413) 445-5852 (Berkshire County)


Alateen and Al-Anon are 12-step support programs that help families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of their loved one's addiction. Members meet regularly to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not. Alateen offers support to adolescents affected by someone else's alcoholism. The only requirement of membership in Al-Anon and Alateen is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend. Visit the website for a list of meetings in your area.

Alcoholics Anonymous



Alcoholics Anonymous is 12-step support program for recovering alcoholics to share their experience, strength, and hope with each other so that together they may achieve sobriety. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership. Visit the AA website for a list of meetings in your area or

Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism and Drug Abuses Rehabilitation (CASPAR)



CASPAR is a nonprofit organization founded in 1970 in response to the need for community-based services for those affected by substance use disorders. Since then CASPAR has built a comprehensive array of outreach, shelter, stabilization, residential, aftercare, education, and prevention services to meet the needs of diverse populations through programs that are safe, accessible, and supportive. CASPAR serves a diverse population of high risk men, women, children and adolescents, most of whom are uninsured and indigent.

Casa Esperanza



Casa Esperanza is a recognized leader in developing holistic approaches to substance abuse treatment, with a reputation for having caring, highly skilled substance abuse counselors and other service providers. We now operate a residential treatment facility for 29 men; a residential treatment facility for 20 women and their children; 23 units of Supportive Housing for individuals and families; and a Relapse Prevention and Outpatient Services program, which provides aftercare services for individuals and families in recovery.
Understanding that recovery is a lifelong process, Casa Esperanza has continued to evolve to meet the unique, long-term needs of people in recovery, providing integrated, bilingual/bicultural tailored services to each individual and each family, including: affordable sober housing; parent-child education and reunification; job training, placement, and advancement; trauma counseling; and health and wellness services, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, tobacco cessation, nutrition and exercise. By focusing on whole people, not a single problem, Casa seeks to help families regain the lives they have lost and create a strong, supportive community for those who hope to follow in their footsteps.

Check Your Gambling

Check Your Gambling is a personalized feedback intervention for problem gamblers. The site presents a series of questions relating to your gambling activities and their consequences, and basic demographic details. Once you have completed the questions (which only takes a few minutes), you are presented with personalized feedback. This feedback includes a comparison of your gambling behavior with normative data; a summary of your overall rating along with a description of what it means (non-problem gambler, low-risk gambler, moderate-risk gambler, problem gambler); and a summary of cognitive distortions about gambling with a summary about the error of each belief. Also included are some suggested techniques that could be used to lower the risk associated with your gambling. The length of the feedback varies depending on your answers, but should take no more than 10 to 20 minutes to read.

Institute for Health and Recovery and Youth Central Intake and Care Coordination


Toll Free: 866-705-2807

TTY: 617-661-9051


The Institute for Health and Recovery is a statewide service, research, policy, and program development agency. IHR's mission is to develop a comprehensive continuum of care for individuals, youth, and families affected by alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, mental health problems, and violence/trauma.  They also operate the Youth Central Intake and Care Coodination service in which families can contact them to assist with referrals to youth residential services or to learn more about other youth substance abuse services.

Learn To Cope

508-738-5148 (Main Office)

508-801-3247 (Peer Recovery Specialist)


Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH), LTC has grown to have a full-staff who collaborate with communities across the state to spread messages of prevention, education, awareness and advocacy. Learn to Cope has over 9,000 members on a private online forum, 25 chapters throughout Massachusetts and most recently 2 chapters in Florida and 1 in Boise, Idaho. LTC families receive unique support and education from professionals and their peers. 

Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

Office: 617-426-4554

Helpline: 800-426-1234

The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling is a private, non-profit health agency dedicated to reducing the social, financial, and emotional costs of problem gambling.
The Council has been instrumental in bringing the issue of problem gambling to the attention of the public and policymakers, offering resources to problem gamblers, their loved ones, and concerned members of the community. The Council offers a toll-free Helpline which provides live confidential caller responses (including treatment referrals) 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

Middlesex Human Service Agency, Inc.



The mission of Middlesex Human Service Agency, Inc. is to improve the quality of life and independent functioning of a wide variety of clients through the delivery of an extensive system of community-based substance abuse and social service programs.
Programs include substance abuse recovery homes, inpatient alcohol education & treatment for adults convicted of two or more OUI offenses, shelter, food, & housing search assistance for the homeless.

MOAR- Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery


1-877-423-6627 (Toll-Free)


MOAR offers a wide array of resources for those coping with substance abuse. Of these include acccess to prevention and treatment support, recovery homes, housing resources, educational resources, peer recovery support, family and youth services, and criminal justice addiction recovery support. 

New England Addiction Outreach



New England Addiction Outreach  is a New England based non-profit organization bringing recovery support to those struggling with substance abuse.  The organization provides Community Outreach including posting daily available BSAS funded detox and treatment bed listings.  They will also assist those struggling with addictions to try to navigate the system to find treatment placement including detox, CSS/TSS, Dual Diagnosis, Residential Treatment Programs, or Intensive Outpatient Programs.  NEAO also helps with Recovery Coaching by providing guidance during the early recovery process including peer support and referring clients and families to outside recovery supports (12 step fellowships, faith based fellowships, recovery support groups, counseling, etc.)  NEAO is a presence on Facebook, and Facebook messages are the best way to get in contact.

New England Region of Narcotics Anonymous (N.E.R.N.A)



Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit 12-step support program for men and women recovering from their addiction to drugs. Members meet regularly to help each other stay clean. Membership is open to all drug addicts, regardless of the particular drug or combination of drugs used. There are no dues or fees for membership. Visit the NA website for a list of meetings in your area.

Suboxone (Buprenorphine) Hotline Office Based Opioid Treatment Program (OBOT) at Boston Medical Center


(617) 414-6926 (Program Coordinator)

"The Hotline can make referrals and offer information on opiate and heroin treatment available in Doctors' offices statewide. Information regarding treatment options is available for both adolescents and adults"

The Gavin Foundation

617 -268 -5517 (Main Office Number)

The Gavin Foundation is a multi-service nonprofit agency providing comprehensive, community-based substance abuse treatment, education, and prevention programs. We serve more than 5,000 individuals each year through our adult, youth and community programs. The Gavin Foundation works from a deep commitment to the community, including the widespread community of individuals and families in recovery.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness - Veteran and Service Member Resources


Toll Free: 800-370-9085 (M-F 9am-5pm)

Fax: 617-580-8673


The National Alliance on Mental Illness maintains a helpline for information on mental illnesses and referrals to local groups. The local self-help groups have support and advocacy components and offer education and information about community services for diverse communities comprising of LGBTQ individuals, veterans, active duty military members, teens, young adults, older adults and families. Local chapters can be found through the main website. For information about the Alliance's affiliates and activities in MA, contact NAMI Massachusetts.

Outside Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Gamblers Anonymous

Massachusetts Hotline : 855-222-5542)



Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling. There are no dues or fees for Gamblers Anonymous membership. Gamblers Anonymous is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. It neither endorses nor opposes any cause. Its primary purpose is to help compulsive gamblers end their addiction through its 12-step program.

National Directory of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Resources


National Substance Abuse Index provides a centralized, comprehensive, and easy-to-use directory for the full spectrum of resources related to dealing with alcoholism and drug addiction. Here we provide the most up-to-date information and help with drug problems such as meth, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, club drug and alcohol use and abuse. We help with drug prevention, drug and alcohol rehab, and addiction recovery.

On-line Gamers Anonymous


On-Line Gamers Anonymous is a self-help fellowship. We share our experience, strengths and hope to assist in recovery from the problems caused by excessive game playing, whether it be computer, video, console, or on-line. Our community includes recovering gamers, family members, loved ones, friends, and concerned others. We know how powerful, cunning, baffling and destructive excessive game playing can be. It can be devastating to the real-world lives of gamers and to those close to them. OLGA/OLG-Anon provides a resource for open discussion, support, education and referrals. We advocate and provide a 12-Step Program of recovery. The OLGA/OLG-Anon website includes a directory of 12-Step meetings (both on-line and face-to-face), a list of relevant reading materials, links to recent media articles, and referrals to professionals in your area who specialize in the treatment of gaming addiction.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

1-800-662-HELP (4357)


800-487-4889 (TTY)

This searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs shows the location of facilities around the country that treat alcoholism, alcohol abuse and drug abuse problems.

Organizations without hotlines

Families Anonymous, Inc.

Main Office: 800-736-9805

Local Contact: 617-825-8841


Families Anonymous is a 12-step support group of concerned relatives and friends whose lives have been adversely affected by a loved one's addiction to alcohol or drugs. See the website for a list of local meetings in your area; online meetings are also offered.




Gam-Anon is a 12-Step, self-help program for the family members, friends, and loved ones of compulsive gamblers. Gam-Anon's purposes are three-fold: To learn acceptance and understanding of the gambling illness; to use the program and its problem solving suggestions as aids in rebuilding our lives and, upon our own recovery, to give assistance to those who suffer.

Mental Health America

Toll-Free: 800-969-6642

Office: 703-684-7722

TTY: 800-433-5959

Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With more than 320 affiliates nationwide, they represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation -- everyday and in times of crisis.


Toll Free: 800-477-6291

Local: 310-534-8188


Nar-Anon members are relatives and friends who are concerned about the addiction or drug problem of another. Its program of recovery is adapted from Narcotics Anonymous and uses the twelve-step model. Nar-Anon members share their experiences, strength, and hope at weekly meetings. Joining is easy; just attend a meeting. There are no dues or fees. The only requirement for membership is that there is a problem of addiction in a relative or friend. Nar-Anon is not affiliated with any other organization or outside entity. Listings of local meetings as are available on the website.

Overeaters Anonymous


Overeaters Anonymous provides support to individuals struggles with issues surrounding food, whether it be compulsive overeating, under-eating, food addiction, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or overexercising. The website has a list of meetings and support groups thoughout the US. It provides information on how to start the healing and recovery process. 

Project Semicolon



"Project Semicolon is an organization devoted to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives."


This organization also provides information and resources about other mental health topics and disorders as well as the chance to share one's own story, personal screenings tools, and helps one find services right on their website.

Sex Addicts Anonymous

Toll Free: 800-477-8191 (USA/Canada)

713-869-4902 (Outside USA & Canada)


As a fellowship of recovering addicts, Sex Addicts Anonymous offers a message of hope to anyone who suffers from sex addiction. Through long and painful experience, we came to realize that we were powerless over our sexual thoughts and behaviors and that our preoccupation with sex was causing progressively severe adverse consequences for us, our families, and our friends. Despite many failed promises to ourselves and attempts to change, we discovered that we were unable to stop acting out sexually by ourselves. Local meetings provide an environment of acceptance, safety, and encouragement for learning how to apply the Twelve Step Program in our lives. Although each group within SAA is autonomous, meetings typically consist of readings from recovery literature and sharing how the Twelve Steps have led to recovery for us. Meetings also offer opportunities for learning how to reach out and to serve other sex addicts.The only requirement for membership in SAA is the desire to stop addictive sexual behavior. There are no fees or dues. Local groups are self-supporting from voluntary contributions of their members.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Phone: 877-726-4727

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Resilience and Stress Management Resource Collection can be utilized during any situation, whether it is dealing with financial stress, recovering from a natural disaster, or coping with the loss of a family member or friend. The collection provides a knowledge base for understanding the concept of resilience, as well as the concept of stress and stress management. It emphasizes stress management as a promoter of resilience and the importance of fostering resilience to be psychologically prepared when stressful life events occur.

The National Center On Addiction And Substance Abuse

(212) 841-5200

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse is a national nonprofit research and policy organization focused on improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of substance use and addiction. Founded in 1992 by former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano, Jr, our interdisciplinary experts collaborate with others to promote effective policies and practices. We conduct and synthesize research, inform and guide the public, evaluate and improve healthcare, and analyze and recommend policies on substance use and addiction.   

YFIRES: Youth Firesetting Information Repository & Evaluation System


YFIRES is a data collection and national repository project developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation Burn Fund and funded through DHS/FEMA’s Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program - Fire Prevention and Safety Grants. The goal of this project is to create a centralized data collection tool that will assist youth firesetting intervention services in a number of disciplines (fire, mental health, law enforcement) and assemble a body of information that will enhance the national understanding of youth firesetting behavior and help in developing evidence-based intervention strategies.  

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) convened a group of youth firesetting intervention professionals in 2011 to discuss the problem of youth-set fires in the United States.  This group was unanimous in their opinion that fires set by youth were underreported across the United States and the need for a centralized database..  The IAFF committed to providing support and leadership to seek grant funding for a committee to further explore the national needs in this particular segment of the fire problem.  

The project convened meetings between subject matter experts in all disciplines related to youth firesetting intervention, both inside and outside the fire service.  Technical experts on data systems were an integral part of the process.  Through the combined effort, and over the course of four years of diligent work, YFIRES became the tool that is now available through this web site.