When a loved one becomes an addict, you’re violently thrown into the toxic cycle of addiction with them. Regardless of how your loved one started using opioids, there was undoubtedly a moment in your life that took your breath away.
When the thought crossed your mind that your loved one could be abusing or addicted to opioids, your world stood still.
Since that terrifying thought, a lot has probably come to light. Maybe you’ve observed them carefully over the past few days or weeks to look for potential indicators of drug abuse. If your loved one was prescribed opioid-based painkillers from a doctor, perhaps you’ve kept track of how many pills they’re taking and when. If you suspect your loved one has been buying opioid pain pills from an acquaintance, maybe you’ve been keeping track of where they are, who they’re with and what exactly they’re up to.
The warning signs are glaringly obvious to you now – you’re watching your loved one morph into a complete stranger right before your eyes.
Opioid addiction is ruthless and incredibly hard on loved ones who are stuck on the outside of a losing battle. Many are desperately trying to figure out what to do and seek ways to help.
We understand that the entire situation can seem overwhelming, paralyzing and utterly hopeless at times. However, no one is ever beyond recovery, and there is life saving help for families of addicts.
Take the first step toward recovery by starting a dialogue with your loved one about what’s really going on.
If you’re unsure where to start, use these six tips to have an effective conversation and help your loved one realize they can reclaim control of their life.
Understandably, your mind is racing with ‘what ifs’ and questions of how this even happened. While your thoughts, feelings and concerns are valid, it’s important to not let pure emotion drive the conversation. Prepare for your discussion through reflection and research.
Your loved one probably never meant to become addicted. They may be trying to hide it or they could be embarrassed by where their life has landed. Most addicts would rather do anything but talk about their addiction.
Because addiction is such a complex, sensitive topic, it’s imperative that you enter this conversation well-prepared mentally and emotionally. This starts by:
Educating yourself about opioids. There are many ways opioid addiction can start. Opioids affect the body and the brain in different ways. This is crucial information that will help you understand what your loved one is going through.
As you continue to prepare for your conversation, be sure to:
When your loved one has a sound mind, the most advantageous conversation will unfold. While this discussion needs to happen as soon as possible, it’s best to wait until your loved one is clean, alert and calm. Otherwise, the conversation may run the risk of upsetting your loved one, causing them to withdraw from you and block future attempts at talking.
When you do find a beneficial time, try to talk in a place that will feel safe to your loved one. A room in your home that’s quiet and distraction-free will help your loved one feel comfortable and safe in familiarity.
Without question, nerves and emotions will be flying high as this conversation kicks off. To help your loved one react positively to you, your efforts and your suggestions, ease their mind by starting the discussion with a calm, reassuring tone. Have a sincere expression of your love and support for them.
Transition to your main points by revealing your incredible concerns over your loved one’s dangerous habits, uncharacteristic actions and poor demeanor. Let them know of the inconsistent, harmful
behavior you’ve noticed and worry over their health and safety.
Try to keep your remarks short, clear and impactful. Once you’ve said everything you need to, let your loved one talk. At this time, it’s crucial that you give them your full attention and do not interrupt. There will probably be pauses and moments of silence – that’s ok. Actively listen to your loved one and keep your nonverbal cues as neutral as possible.
Addiction is a vicious cycle and relentless battle. Because of the way opioids fundamentally alter the brain’s chemistry, it’s incredibly hard for your loved one to rationalize and follow through with promises and commitments. This is why enabling actions such as bargaining, bribing or offering incentives will only continue to fuel your loved one’s addiction. During your conversation, it’s best to avoid leniency altogether.
As the conversation continues and a true back-and-forth dialogue ensues, it’s important to refrain from judgmental comments and hurtful gestures. These can derail any progress made earlier in the conversation or cause your loved one to abruptly end the discussion.
If the conversation is going well and you feel it will help, bring up current statistics you found about the opioid crisis and the many lives it’s affecting every day. For some individuals, this could be the harsh reality they needed to wake up and take the necessary steps to get clean.
Because of how addictive and damaging opioids are, the opioid detoxification process can produce very dangerous symptoms and intense cravings. That’s why recovery from opioid addiction must be met with expert help from medical and addiction professionals.
If your loved one is receptive, present the possible treatment options you found during your research and ask them if they would be willing to go to rehab.
While the entire conversation was a huge step, your loved one probably has a lot to think about. If your loved one is not willing to go at first, that’s OK. Give them a few days to let the entire conversation sink in. Follow up with them later in the week to see if they made any decisions.
Substance abuse is devastating to individuals, families and communities. But it is more than possible to break free of the chains of addiction.
If you suspect your loved is addicted to painkillers, Covenant Hills can help. Through our faith-based opioid addiction treatment program, your loved one’s recovery journey will be supported by our dedicated staff and focused on your Whole Person Health, our comprehensive treatment approach.
You are not alone. Your loved one is not alone. We will travel the entire recovery journey with your loved one until they are clean and thriving. Even then, we will always be here to support them.