We at the William James College INTERFACE Referral Service are keenly aware of the shortage of mental health providers of color and how racial inequities exist in medical and mental health care. The College’s Black Mental Health Academy, Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health, and other programs and academic offerings are playing a critical role in reversing this trend. We invite you to read a statement from our Black Mental Health Graduate Academy Scholars, and to stand with us as allies to drive change and address systemic racism.

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).

Substance Abuse and Substance Dependence

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, or misuse of prescription drugs.  Psychoactive substance use can lead to substance dependence, a cluster of behavioral, cognitive and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use.  Symptoms typically include a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance of drug, and sometimes a withdrawal state.  Withdrawal can either be physical or psychological, with the former having physiological responses such as sweating and nausea and the latter experiencing symptoms like depression and anxiety.

Causes and Roots of Substance Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), both genetics and environment play a role in whether or not a person may become addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Studies have shown that 40-60% of an individual’s likelihood to become addicted to drugs can be attributed to their genes.  However, the relationship between genetics and environment is complex and factors like poverty, exposure to violence, age at first drug use, and unhealthy peer relationships also play a role.  In addition, the relationship between substance abuse and mental health is also present but complicated, meaning that some substance use has a high comorbidity with certain disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Health Effects

Drug and alcohol abuse can have harmful effects on the body across the lifespan.  Effects on brain development and functioning can include:

  • Memory problems, including forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and both difficulty retaining and recalling new information.
  • Interfering with neurotransmitters and damaging connections within the brain.

For adolescents, drug and alcohol abuse can interrupt vital brain development.  For those who are older, drug and alcohol abuse can exacerbate already existing health problems.  Physiologically, chronic drug and alcohol abuse can also affect other organs, such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart. 

Current Trends with Marijuana Use  

The human brain is not considered to be fully developed until the early-mid 20s, and therefore is considered to be 'under construction' for much of adolescence and early adulthood. One particularly vulnerable part of the brain during this time is the frontal cortex, which is responsible for planning, judgement, decision-making, and aspects of personality. This critical brain region is one of the last areas to fully develop, and thus can be most at risk to the effects of early substance use, including the use of marijuana.  

Research has found consistent evidence of both structural brain abnormalities and altered neural activity in marijuana users. In adolescents, studies have suggested that both structural and functional brain changes emerge soon after adolescents start using the drug, and that such changes may still be evident after a month of abstaining from the drug. Research has also found that regular, heavy marijuana users — those who reported smoking five of the last seven days, and more than 2,500 times in their lives — had damage to their brains' white matter, which has been correlated with higher impulsivity, particularly in people who began smoking before the age of 16. Structural differences in the brains of less frequent marijuana users have also been found - in particular changes in the shape, volume, and density of gray matter in two brain regions associated with addiction. In general, individuals who use marijuana more tend to have more significant brain differences. 

Research on marijuana's impact on the developing brain tends to be mixed, as most studies focus on heavy use only, do not account for possible gender differences, and ongoing research will be needed to determine whether brain changes caused by marijuana use are permanent, or if the brain can recover from such changes over time. While there is still significant research that needs to be conducted on the impact of marijuana on the brain, current results tend to suggest that there is a greater risk starting to use marijuana young. 

As more and more states legalize marijuana use, there are significant implications for adolescent use of marijuana and its impact on the developing brain. In Massachusetts currently, marijuana use is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes for adults 21 years and older. Over the past several years, the potency of marijuana available in the United States has increased dramatically, and there are many new methods of marijuana use, such as edibles and the smoking of concentrated marijuana oils. As recreational marijuana grows into a new and prosperous market, marijuana products are marketed to young people even though marijuana use under the age of 21 remains illegal. However, it has not been found that states who have legalized marijuana use have increased adolescent access to marijuana. Research has found consequences of marketing marijuana to youth reflected in statistics that show marijuana addiction in only 9% of adults as opposed to 17% of adolescents (American Psychological Association, 2015). 

Warning Signs

Recognizing the signs of drug abuse can be difficult but is important as family and friends can help the individual utilize treatment before chronic problems develop.  For adolescents, warning signs may be difficult to notice as some changes in behavior can be developmentally appropriate.  Similarly, for the elderly, signs that may normally be alarming in younger individuals (e.g., sleeping problems, memory problems, physical injury, etc.) may be due to health or medical issues in the elderly population.  Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of abrupt behavior and physical changes including, but not limited to:

Behavioral Signs:

  • Mood swings (e.g., irritability, aggressiveness, nervousness, excessive giddiness)
  • Erratic behavior or personality changes with no other identifiable cause
  • Excessive need for privacy; secretive or suspicious behavior
  • Drop in grades at school or performance at work
  • Rapid increases in the amount of medication needed; missing prescription pills
  • Unexplained need for money or financial concerns
  • Changes in friends, activities, or hobbies
  • Change in personal grooming habits
  • “Doctor shopping” (moving from provider to provider in an effort to get several prescriptions for the same medication)
  • Use of more than one pharmacy
  • False or forged prescriptions

Physical Signs:

  • Inability to sleep, restlessness, or unusual laziness
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Cold, sweaty palms, shaking hands, tremors
  • Dilated or constricted pupils, red eyes
  • Extreme hyperactivity, excessive talkativeness
  • Slowed or staggered walk, poor balance, unsteady gait
  • Irregular heartbeat or increase in body temperature
  • Nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating

Treatment and Prevention

Evidence based preventative programs involving families, schools, and communities have proven effective in preventing drug abuse and addiction.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), individual-level strategies include learning life and social skills, addressing media influences, peer resistance skills, and programs that introduce drug free alternative behaviors.  SAMHSA endorses a “continuum of care” model for drug abuse prevention:

  • Promotion – These strategies are designed to create environments and conditions that support behavioral health and increase resiliency. 
  • Prevention – Delivered prior to the onset of a disorder, these intervention are intended to prevent or reduce the risk of developing a behavioral health problem, such as underage alcohol use, prescription drug misuse and abuse, and illicit drug use.
  • Treatment – These services are for people diagnosed with a substance use or other behavioral health disorder.
  • Recovery – These services support individuals’ abilities to live productive lives in the community and can often help with abstinence.

Friends, parents, loved ones, and members of the individual’s community can all play a role in addressing substance abuse.  According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, friends and loved ones can engage in harm reduction by acknowledging that some alcohol and drug exposure is inevitable and if abstaining completely from drug or alcohol use is not feasible, helping someone make the best decisions to reduce its harm.  There are three general approaches:

  • Discourage the behavior (i.e., recommend that the individual stop the behavior completely)
  • Encourage the individual to reduce the behavior
  • Provide the individual with information aimed at reducing the harmful consequences of the behavior when it occurs

Below are some specific recommendations parents can utilize with their children or adolescents to address potential or ongoing substance abuse:

  • Establish and maintain good communication.  Research has shown that children are more likely to delay using substances if they have a strong and supportive relationship with an adult.  Ask questions about the child’s thoughts and feelings.  Show interest in his or her activities. 
  • Beginning in the middle school years, initiate brief conversations about the risks of substance abuse.  (Short frequent conversations are more effective than one big lecture).  Ask the child or adolescent what he or she thinks about substance abuse.
  • Talk about peer pressure-this is a strong force among teens and young adults. 
  • Help the child brainstorm other ways to manage tough feelings besides turning to alcohol or drugs.  This is especially important if you or your child displays symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other mental health issues, as this can increase the risk of substance abuse. 
  • Monitor your medicine cabinet.  Keep it locked if possible, and make an inventory of its contents. 

Substance abuse and addiction is treatable.  However, treatment can be intensive and takes time.  According to the NIDA, the most effective treatments are when the individual is motivated to start therapy with or without medication. There are many different treatment programs, ranging from behavioral therapy (“talk” therapy) to various medications that can treat the symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal. It is important to emphasize that no one treatment works for everybody and that treatment must be tailored to the individual in order to maintain successful moderation or abstinence from substance use.  Lastly, individuals do better in treatment when they have the support of friends, family, loved ones, and members of the community who can help provide motivation to enter treatment or stay in treatment.

The Behavior of Addiction 

While much of the focus on the prevention and treatment of addiction focuses on substance abuse and dependence, there are other addictive patterns of behavior that can be of clinical concern and can impact one's overall functioning and quality of life. In general, a behavior can be considered addictive when one finds themselves engaging in an activity for longer periods of time or in ways that are not typical and find such a behavior difficult to stop. For example, someone who spends too much time playing games, perhaps to the detriment of their health, commitments, or relationships, may be experiencing Electronic/Gaming Addiction or Gaming Disorder. Behaviors that become addictive may leave individuals feeling like they need to engage in such behaviors more often or for longer periods of time to get the same amount of enjoyment out of them as they used to. For example, someone who finds that they need shop to spend more money or need to spend more time shopping, may be experiencing Shopping Addiction or Compulsive Buying/Shopping Disorder. Such behaviors become pre-occupying and impact one’s ability to think and to complete other tasks. Individuals displaying addictive patterns of behavior work their lives around such behaviors rather than engage in such behaviors for fun. For example, someone who spends the majority of their time seeking out sexual relationships or engaging in romantic relationships that are not about pleasure, may be experiencing Sex Addiction or Compulsive Sexual Behavior. Addictive behaviors start to cause problems for the individual, such as impacting their job, personal relationships, school performance, or financial well-being. Individuals displaying addictive patterns of behavior experience negative consequences from the behavior but still find it difficult to stop engaging in the behavior. For example, someone who continuously puts themselves in a position to gamble and who may be experiencing Gambling Addiction or Gambling Disorder/Compulsive Gambling, may have money problems or may be sought after for debts they cannot pay, and they may have legal troubles. Such individuals often try to cut down on or stop these addictive behaviors but find that they cannot. Much like other addictions, addictive patterns of behavior can be related to other mental health conditions or can contribute to them, such as anxiety or depression. 

Resource Organizations » Substance Abuse and Addictions

In Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Massachusetts Substance Abuse Information and Education Helpline

Helpline: 800-327-5050

TTY: 617-536-5872

office: 617-279-2240

Email: helpline@hria.org

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 6:00 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)


Email: armsmgh@partners.org

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)

Email: LDCOFMA@aol.com

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


Email: info@aaemass.org

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 www.aaboston.org.

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


Email: jlondergan@baycove.org

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


Email: info@casaesperanza.com

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

Email: ihr@healthrecovery.org

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.

Journey Recovery Project

The Journey Project is an interactive Web resource for pregnant and parenting women who have questions or concerns about opioid and other substance use. The Journey focuses on the stories of women with lived experience, offering information, hope, encouragement, and resources for every step of their perinatal journey. With videos, informational slideshows, resource links, and worksheets, the Journey Project seeks to empower and inform women about opioid and other substance use and pregnancy. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS), in collaboration with the Institute for Health and Recovery and the Center for Social Innovation, created the Journey Project.

Learn To Cope

508-738-5148 (Main Office)

508-801-3247 (Peer Recovery Specialist)

Email: ltc@learn2cope.org

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.


Email: info@mhsainc.org

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)

Email: maryanne@moar-recovery.org

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


Email: NEAddictionOutreach@gmail.com

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)


Email: info@newenglandna.org

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)

Email: Colleen.LaBelle@bmc.org

This 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

857-496-7342 (Center Director: Roscoe Hurley)

857-496-0052 ext. 618 (Volunteer Coordinator: Rose Stone)

857-496-0052 ext. 618 (Community Resource Specialist: (Debbie Schezer)

Email: devinerecoverycenter@gmail.com

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.

Outside Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Gamblers Anonymous

Massachusetts Hotline : 855-222-5542


Email: isomain@gamblersanonymous.org

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.

Mental Health America

1-800-273-TALK (8255) - 24-hour crisis center

Office: 703-684-7722

Toll Free: 800-969-6642

Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is the nation's leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Their work is driven by the commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need it; with recovery as the goal.

National Council on Problem Gambling



Email: ncpg@ncpgambling.org

The mission of the National Council on Problem Gambling is to lead state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policy and programs for all those affected by problem gambling.  Their purpose is to serve as the national advocate for programs and services to assist problem gamblers and their families.  And their vision is to improve health and wellness by reducing the personal, social and economic costs of problem gambling.  The National Council is neither for nor against legalized gambling.  

On-line Gamers Anonymous


On-Line Gamers Anonymous is a self-help fellowship. They share their 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. The community includes recovering gamers, family members, loved ones, friends, and concerned others. They 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. They 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.

SAMHSA's National Helpline or Treatment Referral Routing Service

1-800-662-HELP (4357)

1-800-662-HELP (4357)

800-487-4889 (TTY)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.  Their website also includes a searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs showing the location of facilities around the country that treat alcohol and drug use problems.

Organizations without hotlines

Ben's Friends

Ben’s Friends is the food and beverage industry support group offering hope, fellowship, and a path forward to professionals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. Ben’s Friends exists to provide a safe haven and an anonymous, judgment-free forum for workers in an industry that has one of the highest rates of substance abuse in the country. Ben’s Friends models acceptance and gratitude, and though unaffiliated with either AA or NA, shares an important commonality: the only thing you need to bring through the door is a desire to stop drinking or using. Ben’s Friends offers a safe and constructive haven for those grappling with and maintaining sobriety. By coming together, by starting a dialogue, and by acknowledging that substance abuse cannot be overcome in isolation or by willpower alone, Ben’s Friends hopes to write a new chapter in the lives of our country’s talented and dedicated food and beverage professionals.

Chefs with Issues

Email: kat@chefswithissues.com

There had never been a study that looked specifically at F&B, so the Heirloom Foundation partnered with Kat Kinsman and her Chefs with Issues project. Heirloom had a PhD epidemiologist and statistician review the findings in the Chefs with Issues survey and for the first time  could point to specific problems. They found higher instances of mental health issues, especially depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use. They found that the culture in kitchens made most people feel that they couldn't speak openly when they needed help. Those factors combined with long hours, an inability to take sick or personal leave, and minimal health benefits, were creating a hotbed for crisis.  This website, and related Facebook community, provides a forum for connection to others who are struggling as well as resources that have been particularly helpful for those in the food and beverage industry.

Families Anonymous, Inc.

Main Office: 800-736-9805

Local Contact: 617-825-8841

Email: famanon@familiesanonymous.org

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.



Email: gamanonoffice@gam-anon.org

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 their lives and, upon their own recovery, to give assistance to those who suffer.


Toll Free: 800-477-6291

Local: 310-534-8188

Email: wso@nar-anon.org

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. 

Sex Addicts Anonymous

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

713-869-4902 (Outside USA & Canada)

Email: info@saa-recovery.org

As a fellowship of recovering addicts, Sex Addicts Anonymous offers a message of hope to anyone who suffers from sex addiction.  Local meetings provide an environment of acceptance, safety, and encouragement for learning how to apply the Twelve Step Program.  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 members. 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.

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, their interdisciplinary experts collaborate with others to promote effective policies and practices. They 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.