Opioid addiction is a serious, life-threatening disease that impacts thousands of people. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 68,630 people died in 2020 in the U.S. from opioid overdoses, accounting for about 75% of all overdoses occurring that year. Considering this, if you believe a loved one is struggling with opioids, it’s time to do something. But what?
It May Be Up to You to Do Something
Don’t wait for someone else to say something or take action. A person with a dependence on opioids may be unable to stop using that substance on their own. These drugs are powerful in the way they alter the way a person thinks and feels both emotionally and physically. Trying to stop without help often leads to intense pain, overwhelming cravings, and relapse. It may be up to you to intervene.
What Can You Do to Help Someone with Opioid Addiction?
First, recognize that addiction is a disease, one that requires medical care just like any other disease. This addiction can form from using illicit forms of drugs, like heroin. However, it is far more common for it to occur as a result of using prescription medications. It can occur to anyone of any age, status, or lifestyle.
Next, consider what a person with an opioid addiction needs.
It’s typically much more than simply to stop using. If it was that easy, chances are good that they would have done so long ago. Most often, people need help retraining their brain to stop demanding these substances.
They also need to work through the underlying cause of their addiction, which could be a mental health condition, physical pain, trauma, or something else. In short, addiction doesn’t just go away when a person stops using the substance. There’s much more to do.
How to Have a Conversation About Addiction
The hardest part of this process is that initial moment when you need to ask your loved one what is happening. After that, there’s often a sense of relief, even if your loved one reacts with pain and anger at your statements. This first step enables you to break through to give them an opportunity to open up. Communicating with someone who is suffering from addiction isn’t easy, but you can improve it.
Instead of bringing a tone of accusation to the conversation, calmly describe what you see happening. For example, you may want to say that you’re worried that the pain medications they are taking are not helping them because they seem to be using more and more, and that’s dangerous to do.
You may want to discuss how their behavior affects you or the family. Perhaps they have missed a lot of family functions or are no longer spending time with people they love. You’re worried about them being so withdrawn.
Be open and direct. Perhaps you can state that you know they are misusing opioids. Describe what can happen to them when they misuse these drugs – they check out, engage in reckless behavior, or even pass out. Sometimes people just need to be told what’s really happening because they’re not willing to admit it to themselves or may not be aware of the dangers.
Hold the Conversation with an End Goal
As you start this conversation with a loved one, recognize that they can’t stop using these substances on their own, or they would have done so (some may still claim they can and may offer to do so on their own). They likely don’t have any idea how to handle what’s occurring. Some people will be worried while others will be in denial.
That’s why you need to have a plan going into this process. Reach out to a drug and alcohol treatment center now. Ask questions about availability and if your loved one may qualify for the program. Then, when you talk to your loved one, you can tell them what you know about their treatment options.
Consider a few of the following tips:
- Tell your loved one you know they need help. Let them know you want to help them.
- Encourage them to reach out for treatment even if they think they can control their use. They deserve a better life.
- Provide information on the statistics but be clear about what your fears are: that you will lose them, or they will no longer be the person they always have been.
Let Our Team Guide and Support You Through This Process
You don’t have to have all of the answers just yet. Let The Ranch at Dove Tree offer our guidance and expertise. Reach out to us today to learn more about the treatment options we offer at our addiction treatment center in Lubbock, Texas.