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28 February 2019

How To Help a Loved One Struggling With Opioid Addiction

You’ve likely heard about the opioid crisis in the news. There’s even a chance you know someone who’s become unintentionally dependent on opioids. What’s so dangerous about this particular drug is the fact that a person can become addicted to opioids by accident, taking them to treat pain and developing a tolerance that transcends into dependence. So, how do you help a loved one you think may have an opioid addiction?

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction

Before talking to your friend or family member, you want to make sure there’s something to be concerned about. Addiction doesn’t look the same for everyone, so you’re better off looking for some of the most common signs that someone has likely gone from prescription to addiction:
  • Spending large sums of cash in a short amount of time
  • Neglecting work, family, and school obligations
  • Supposedly losing prescriptions and making medical appointments for more
  • Taking larger doses than currently prescribed
  • No longer engaging in hobbies and activities that once brought joy
There are also physical signs of addiction:
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Shallow breathing
If you notice any of the above, then there is a chance your friend or family member may have become dependent on opioids. Bear in mind that a display of the above symptoms is not undeniable proof a person has an addiction, but your concerns are valid. Sit down with your loved one to have a conversation.

Take the Right Approach

If you feel there is something to be concerned about, it’s vital you approach the conversation the right way. First, you want to display care rather than accusations. Let your friend or family member know you care and are concerned with her or his current health as well as her or his future health. When a person is caught up in cravings for the feelings of elation opioids provide, he or she may not truly realize the harm that comes from fulfilling those cravings.

Use specific examples to help make your point. What behaviors have you noticed that made you initially concerned? How have those behaviors affected your relationship with this person? How have those behaviors affected your friend or family member’s life? Know that your loved one may deny having an addiction, which is common. If this is the case, you and your loved one are better off if you bring in professional help.

Educate Yourself on Treatment Options

Helping your friend or family member get opioid addiction treatment is one of the best things you can do. Any programs you explore should utilize treatments supported by scientific evidence. Also, treatment programs should be tailored to individual patients, rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach. The program should also last long enough to actually be effective and include a 12-step portion, or something similar. Finally, the program should include a Medication Assisted Treatment portion.

True, there’s only so much you can do to help a friend or family member addicted to opioids. That said, your efforts may be more effective than you realize. Proceed with a solid plan of action and knowledge about the causes of opioid addiction.
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