Helping Loved Ones: Everything You Need to Know About Helping Loved Ones with Opioid Addictions

No matter where you live, what colour you are, or how much money you make, you are at risk of developing a relationship with opioid addiction. It may not be a direct relationship between you and the drug, but you are at risk of having a loved one become addicted.

How can we be so sure about this statement? The facts speak for themselves. In 2016, there were more than 214 million prescriptions written for opioid pain medications, averaging out to an astounding 66.5 out of 100 people. That means that you may be close to someone with this problem and not even know it.

But if you do have a loved one struggling with opioid addiction, you need to know how to help them. Here is everything you need to know about helping an opioid addict.

Statistics on Opioid Addictions

Even though opioids come in prescription forms, that does not make them safe. Opioids are part of the opiate family, just like heroin, so when you have an addiction to an opioid medication, you are already addicted to the same thing heroin is made out of. It’s a razor’s edge to be walking.

The facts are staggering:

  • Prescription opioids were abused by over 11 million people in 2016.
  • Primary care doctors prescribed prescription opioids to 1 in 5 people for pain not related to cancers.
  • Over 40% of deaths due to opioid overdoses in the United States in 2016 were due to prescription medications.
  • Opioid misuse costs the United States over $78.5 billion per year, according to the CDC.

There’s no arguing with these stats - opioid drug use is deadly and expensive, both financially and mentally.

When You Are Ready to Step In

It’s not always easy to know when someone is using opioids the right way and when they are addicted, but once you come to that conclusion, you need to step in and get them help. The goal is to get them to stop the drug entirely and to do that, they will have to fight the addiction throughout their lives.

Opioids are not something that the majority of people can just stop taking without severe withdrawal symptoms and side effects. If you want your loved one to safely and permanently quit their addiction, you need to get them long-term rehab help.

There are many opioid treatment methods out there, like the Waismann Method. These methods, to be successful, need to provide medically supervised withdrawal treatments. Recovering from an opioid addiction can bring multiple side effects with it and your loved one’s care team should be prepared to deal with these.

It’s common for addicts to experience side effects such as extreme fatigue, depression, nausea and vomiting, lethargy, and even paranoia. When they go through these symptoms at home or without the proper support, they can easily be tempted back into their old addiction habits.

Remember, opioids are usually used by those who don’t want to handle negative feelings of pain or distress, so when they are faced with these side effects, they are going to find it difficult to handle them.

After the initial detox, your loved one will still need opiate addiction treatment and substance abuse counselling before they can return home safely. But once they are there, the recovery process is not over.

An addict commonly faces daily urges to go back to their drug of choice, or even turn to another drug as a replacement. They will still have withdrawal symptoms to contend with. It may be difficult for them to handle stress and other triggers that once would have sent them running to their drug to numb the pain. This is where you step in.

Ensuring that your loved one continues to go to counselling and substance abuse therapy is important. You can also help them learn how to find their triggers and handle them in a healthy manner. Things that we may consider to be a common sense reaction to a stressful or tense situation may not be something that your loved one understands yet.

The addiction treatment program should offer aftercare help to assist you and your loved one on the road to recovery. After the individual leaves the rehab facility, there are so many ways for them to relapse, so a good treatment program knows that the hardest part is still to come and will be faced daily.

Be sure that the program your loved one enters offers options for counselling after they leave. They should also help them ease back into daily living and society, and they should have a procedure in place in the possible event of a relapse.

You may be feeling helpless while your loved one is in the rehab facility, but this is where your work is important. While they are receiving treatment, you need to prepare their common places for them to return to. This means removing any signs of the opioids, destroying their medication or illicit drugs, and cleaning up the environment overall.

Stress and triggers or reminders of their habit can cause a relapse, so your job is very important. When they are supervised, it’s much easier to have control over their urges than when they are back in their normal daily life.

Your last job is going to be to have patience. Recovering from an opioid addiction is a long, painful process. Your loved one is probably going to do and say things that are hurtful. They are going to be angry and scared and may take it out on you. Through your love, a good treatment program, and their own willpower, they will eventually become the person you used to know once again.

Recovery is a Long Road

Recovering from any addiction is a process, and like any process, there are steps involved and bumps in the road. Your loved one’s recovery is probably not going to be textbook perfect or smooth sailing, but you have done the right thing by ensuring they received help.

Opioid addictions are everywhere, so there are also treatment programs and community and online help for the addict and their loved ones. You are not alone, so don’t feel discouraged and give up. Reach out to others who have been in your shoes. With time, patience, and love, you will beat this addiction together.

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