Opioid addiction in America is so prevalent, some researchers claim it is lowering our overall life expectancy in the country. In 2016, 64,000 people died from overdosing on heroin and synthetic opioids in the United States. For many Americans, those numbers hit close to home as their loved ones and family members struggle with addiction.
Finding out someone you are close with is addicted to opioids can be shocking, but doing what you can to help them enter treatment can mean the difference between life and death.
Things to Avoid When Dealing with Addiction
– When you love someone, you want to do what you can to make them happy. You may think that giving them a place to live, a car, or spending cash on them is helpful, but you may be enabling their behavior. Detaching with love is the best course of action.
– Addiction is a disease, so it is helpful to approach it as so. Even though the behaviors associated with addiction can be hurtful (lying, cheating, stealing, etc…), there’s no criticism you can throw at them that they haven’t thought themselves. Instead of hammering in criticism, try and understand their pain and guide them to treatment.
– No one is 100% good or 100% bad, and this rings true for an addict as well. Addiction does not make a person bad, so demonizing them is not fair. For some people, knowing a family member that’s an addict changes their perspective from the get go.
To help your loved one, educate yourself on addiction and the opioid crisis in America. This knowledge can serve as a foundation for understanding your loved one’s problem. Understanding is the key to compassion, which you will need to help them get through this difficult time. It will also help you become the best ally you can be, so you can aid your loved one the best you can.
Set Clear Boundaries
Addicts tend to lie and manipulate the people around them to hide their destructive behaviors. Setting clear boundaries with your loved one means you can help them without enabling. You have to be able to help yourself to help anyone else, so if you need your own living space or if you can only loan a small amount of money to help them get back on their feet, so be it
Addiction does not go away overnight. In fact, while breaking an addiction is possible, the underlying factors that cause it never really go away. While you loved one is recovering, you will need to be patient when it comes to the time it takes. Remember that as difficult it is for you, it is even more so for them. Taking up meditation together is a good way to help instill a mindful attitude while bonding in a healthy way.
Help Find Professional Help
Your loved one can’t beat addiction on their own– they need support. While your support is crucial for their recovery, nothing can beat professional help. An addiction counselor can talk through things with your loved one when times are difficult. They may find more solace in a recovery group where a community of people help support each other in sobriety. Some addicts need to get away from life to recover– an addiction treatment center provides emotional and medical support in an environment free from temptation.
More and more Americans have people in their lives dealing with opioid addiction. Helping that person into recovery can be a challenge. It’s important not to enable, criticize, or demonize the person for their addiction. Educate yourself about the opioid epidemic and the underlying causes of addiction. Set boundaries for yourself and practice patience with your loved one. Finally, help them find professional help they need to overcome their dependence on opiates.