10 Things To Do If You Suspect a Loved One Is Addicted to Opiates
More people than ever are becoming addicted to opiates and family members and friends are at a loss on how to help. It’s important to know that there are things you can do to help your loved one get better if you suspect an addiction to substances. Take these 10 steps to help someone you care about get out from the deadly grip of opioid addiction.
1. Learn About Opioids
The important first step before you take any action is to research opioids and addiction. Drug addiction is increasingly focused on the abuse of prescription drugs, such as painkillers. Learn about what opioids are, prescription and street drugs that are produced from the opium in a poppy plant. These could include street drugs, such as heroin, and narcotics, such as Vicodin and OxyContin.
2. Look for Signs of Addiction
The next way you can help someone who may have a drug problem is to look for the signs of addiction. Heroin addiction signs and symptoms are pretty dramatic and can show a big change in someone’s regular behavior. Be careful when looking for behavioral signs. Your loved one may be withdrawn, have sudden weight gain or loss, and may have problems at work or at school.
3. Educate Yourself About Opioid Paraphernalia
Besides looking for signs of addiction or drug abuse in your loved one’s behavior, you should also be on the lookout for certain types of materials or objects associated with opioid addiction. Most of the time, the addict will do whatever is possible to hide a potential addiction, so you may have to look for very subtle signs. Missing spoons, bottle caps, burnt up foil squares, hollowed-out pens, lighters, candles, matches, used cotton balls, and syringes left behind may all indicate some sort of drug problem.
4. Talk to Them
After noticing the signs of drug addiction in your friend or family’s behavior and seeing some possible evidence of drug paraphernalia, it may be time to have a private talk with your loved one about the problem. It’s important to tread carefully with this step to avoid alienating your loved one even more. Communicating with an addict requires lots of patience, kindness, and understanding. It’s also important to show lots of love and respect to the person who you are worried about.
5. Recruit Other Family Members or Friends
Taking on the responsibility of helping an addicted friend or family member by yourself can be a major source of stress. If possible, talk to other people in your loved one’s life, such as other family members or close friends. Discuss your concerns and see if anyone else is also worried about a potential addiction. Make a plan to offer a network of support for your loved one, but be careful so it doesn’t look like you’re ganging up together to attack the person in crisis.
6. Avoid Making Excuses
Next, it’s important that you avoid making excuses or enabling your loved one’s addiction if you suspect there is a problem. Confronting the fact that someone you care about may be struggling with an opioid addiction can be tough. Millions of people, with all types of economic situations and family backgrounds, have experienced addiction problems. Don’t make excuses for your loved one’s problems just because you think he or she may not be the type to be a drug addict.
7. Research Treatment
The most important thing to do when you think someone is an opioid addict is to get help. Learn about heroin treatment options and therapy type situations that may be successful. If your loved one is an adult, it’s important to have information ready at hand so he or she can make their own decision about treatment. Have some options available so it shows you’re prepared to offer help immediately.
8. Stage an Intervention
The next step to helping your loved one is to confront him or her in a non-threatening intervention. Schedule a time to meet with your loved one and have some other people there to support your discussions about your concerns. It may be helpful to prepare a script ahead of time or at least a series of bullet points to cover each concern. Set limits to keep your intervention to about an hour and share ideas about treatment.
9. Provide Recovery Support
If your loved one agrees to go get treatment, your support shouldn’t stop at that point. During the recovery period in treatment and after treatment, addicts still have plenty of struggles and uphill battles. If you truly care about someone, you can help along in the journey to full recovery by checking in every once in a while, visiting if appropriate in the treatment center, and staying in communication.
10. Get Help for Yourself
The final way you can help a loved one get over an addiction is to also take care of yourself. Being close to someone who has developed an addiction to opiates can be devastating. Witnessing someone overdose or simply just wither away in front of you over time can be heartbreaking. Consider talking to a professional mental health counselor who specializes in treating family members of addicts to get your own support system.
Caring about someone who may be struggling with an opioid addiction doesn’t mean you are powerless. There are things you can do to give your loved one support and help him or her get into treatment and recover from this devastating condition that plagues so many people around the world.
Important: This article contains opinions expressed by the author. These views are not necessarily shared by Fearless Motivation. If you have, or know someone who is addicted to opiates please seek professional help.