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Free and Low-Cost Resources for Smoking, Alcohol and Substance Use Problems


people receiving support and resources for substance use

 

Although smoking, drinking, and using drugs are very much within the realm of psychology, many mental health professionals do not treat alcohol and substance use disorders. Of course, substance misuse or overuse can have major negative consequences for both physical and mental health. As with all mental health treatment, substance use intervention can be unaffordable, inaccessible, and ineffective, if the right treatment protocol is not used. There are online programs designed to fill this gap, but many people are not aware of these resources.

 

Here are some free and low-cost evidence-based resources for adults working on either abstinence (no more use) or harm reduction (reduced, safer use) of smoking and alcohol or drug use.

 

Kick It California is a free program to support quitting smoking, vaping, or dipping.

 

quitSTART is another free app that supports quitting smoking.

 

Stay Quit Coach is a free VA-developed app for quitting smoking/tobacco use. You do not have to be a veteran to use or benefit from this program.

 

VetChange is a free VA-developed app to support reducing alcohol use.

 

THRIVE is an app used to help stop problem drinking of alcohol. Although this is pushing the limits of what I’d consider to be “low-cost,” it is certainly less expensive than rehab or therapy and may be covered by health insurance.

 

Sunnyside is a low-cost app that supports reducing alcohol consumption.

 

CheckUp & Choices is a low-cost web program to support reduction of drinking.

 

reSET is a “digital therapeutic” [app] that can be used to work on reduction of alcohol and drug (stimulants, marijuana, cocaine, opoids) use. It can be prescribed by a medical professional and should be reimbursed by health insurance.

 

Of course, there are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which are free, peer-led groups (virtual and in-person). These programs have actually been found to have strong research support. These programs are based on an abstinence model.

 

The Moderate Drinking approach also has support groups. These are based on a harm reduction model.

 

Naturally, there are some limitations to apps and online programs. Although these programs are backed by research and developed my medical and mental health professionals, you do not receive one-on-one support from a care provider. And, as with all apps, your privacy is at some level of risk.

 

For better understanding of what you should receive in treatment, I also want to provide the current research-supported treatments for alcohol and substance use disorders. Here is a list:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These programs would be delivered in more of a traditional mental health treatment format. You’ll have to do a little extra research to identify providers in your area. Make sure you identify someone with a strong educational background and training appropriate to provide treatment for alcohol and substance use.

 

If you’re reading this today and you’re just starting to consider cutting back on smoking, drinking, or using substances, congratulations on this first step in the journey! Find your motivation: Is it family, your career, your faith? It can be so hard to first admit to having a problem and then to actually work on solving it. I hope you find these resources helpful as you consider making changes for your health.

 

Often, substance use is often one piece of the puzzle of broader mental health challenges. Consider consulting with a mental health provider who might be able to identify other concerns that are making you more likely to use substances to manage your emotions.

 

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