Educators and health care professionals work in high-stress professions. What may seem like a relaxing way to unwind at the end of the day — a drink or a small amount of marijuana or other substance — can rapidly spiral into a full-scale substance abuse problem that interferes with your career and relationships and can even jeopardize your life.
If you wonder whether your drinking or recreational substance use poses a threat to your health, take the free online screening test from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism or the online assessment from Alcohol & Drug Services.
Many kinds of support are available for those with substance-use issues and for their loved ones. Here are the top three forms of treatment that you can access through your health insurance:
Detox: If you have been using a substance for a significant amount of time and you want to stop, your body will have a strong reaction to a sudden halt. It is highly advisable to be in contact with a medical professional or a facility that can supervise you during the initial stage of recovery.
Rehab: You can voluntarily go to an inpatient treatment facility to help you understand the many dimensions of substance use. These facilities offer individual or group counseling and other kinds of support to help you in your journey to sobriety. This is an intensive intervention that is most effective if you or a loved one wants to get a handle on your substance use.
Intensive outpatient: You can go to a convenient local treatment facility various times a week for group and individual counseling sessions. These sessions could be before or after work and on weekends.
There are also many types of support and groups organized to help the families and loved ones of people with substance-use issues, such as Al-Anon family groups.
Remember, substance abuse is both common and treatable. Don’t feel alone; your union offers support! You can confidentially discuss any questions or concerns you may have around substance use and how to access support using your health insurance. Mickey Correa, a trained counselor at the UFT’s Member Assistance Program, can be reached via email at MAPinfo@uft.org or by phone at 1-212-701-9260.