Cite this article

NIDA. (2015, September 14). A Lifeline in the Sea of Sorrow: Where to Get Help When You Need It. Retrieved from

press ctrl+c to copy
The NIDA Blog Team
September 14 2015

Panic, fear, frustration, stress, sadness and desperation: that pretty much sums up how people feel when they or a loved one is addicted and needs help. Every day NIDA hears from people looking for information that will help them navigate the world of addiction and treatment.  

But sometimes people don’t need just information, they need help.

If you or a friend or a loved one is having those scary, terrible feelings about drugs or anything else, and you want to talk to a professional, don’t just trust just anyone you find online. Talk to people who know what they’re doing. 

Help for people in emotional distress


Lifeline Crisis Chat* is a free service that connects people with crisis centers around the United States via online chat. If you’re depressed, thinking about suicide, or just having a hard time, you can visit the Lifeline Crisis Chat website and chat with a trained specialist about whatever is bothering you. It’s free, and chats are private and kept confidential.

You don’t have to be suicidal to use Lifeline Crisis Chat.

The goal of the chat is to help you reduce your stress and feel better able to make healthy decisions. The online chat feature is available from 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. eastern time.

The website also has screening tools and a library of fact sheets you can use to learn about medical and mental health concerns. A list of resources can help you find other organizations that deal with specific issues such as self-harm, domestic abuse, eating disorders, and LGBT health.


If you’d rather talk on the phone, or need to talk to someone when the online Lifeline Crisis Chat is not available, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline answers calls around the clock at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It offers a lot of the same help the Lifeline Crisis Chat does, just by phone instead of online.

You don’t have to be suicidal to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The Lifeline says on its website that “people have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.” They have answered literally millions of calls from people who need to talk. That’s what they’re there for.

When you call 1-800-273-8255, your call is routed to a crisis center near where you’re calling from. Like Crisis Chat, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are free and confidential. Whether you provide your name and/or contact information is completely up to you, and your personal information will not be shared unless the chat specialist feels that your life is in immediate danger.

Not in the U.S.?

If you live outside the United States, Lifeline Crisis Chat has information about similar international chat and phone services in its resources and FAQ sections.

Hope Is out there

If you need to talk to someone, don’t be afraid to reach out. If it’s an immediate emergency, call 911. They deal with mental and emotional issues all the time.

These services are here to help people just like you. You never have to feel alone—a smart person who understands is just a chat or phone call away.

*Lifeline Crisis Chat is a joint effort by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services