Most people think that opioid dependence is an issue that they will never have to face. Unfortunately, the truth is that opioid dependence can develop quickly when someone simply takes the pain medications prescribed to them. If any of your loved ones are prescribed opioids for pain management, you should be on the alert for any signs of dependence.
There are many signs you can watch out for that indicate an opioid dependence. Here are a few.
- Poor decision making.
- Abandoning responsibilities.
- Drowsiness and poor coordination.
- Mood swings.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Anxiety attacks or depression.
- Constipation or nausea.
- Shallow breathing and physical agitation.
If you notice any of these symptoms in a loved one after they have been using a prescribed opioid, you will want to address it right away. The sooner they get help, the better chance they have of recovery. Here are a few things to do while helping your loved one fight their dependence
1. Don’t shame them.
When you approach your loved one about their dependence, don’t use shaming language. The truth is that anyone can become addicted to opioids. Between 21 and 29 percent of people who are prescribed opioids misuse them, and between 8 and 12 percent of people prescribed opioids for pain management actually end up developing an opioid use disorder. These statistics show that opioid addiction is actually quickly and easily developed, so your loved one should not feel ashamed. Let them know you understand. Show compassion, and offer to get them the help they need.
2. Think about planning an intervention.
If you’ve already let your loved one know about your concern, and they have not listened, you may want to let other people around your loved one know what is going on. You can all confront your loved one with compassion, and let him or her know that you want to help them recover. A solid support system can be very helpful for someone trying to recover from opioid dependence, and having several loved ones explaining their concern can help convince the dependent person of the gravity of the situation.
3. Set boundaries if needed.
If your loved one refuses to get help, you will need to set boundaries. While you will want to do what you can to help your loved one, you cannot allow yourself to become an enabler to their addiction. Boundaries will look different for every person, but they can commonly look like not providing money, housing etc to the dependent person while they refuse to seek treatment. These boundaries may cause your dependent loved one to lash out at you, but it is important that you hold your ground. Be kind at the same time. Let your loved one know that you care about them and will help them through the recovery process once they decide to seek help.
4. If they do agree to treatment, provide support.
Recovering from an opioid addiction can be incredibly difficult. People who are going down this difficult road need all of the support they can get. If your loved one decides to seek help, do whatever you can to support him or her. This can include helping them find a treatment center, providing financial support for treatment, and visiting them during treatment. Just calling every day to let your loved one know you love him or her can be very important during the recovery process.
5. Offer to be an accountability partner.
Unfortunately, many people who become dependent on opioids end up relapsing even after a seemingly successful treatment. A strong support system is key to avoiding relapses, which are often brought on my life stressors. Let your loved one know that they can contact you at any time if they are needing support during a stressful time. Make sure they have people to turn to if they feel tempted to begin using again.
These are just a few of the ways that you can try to help your loved one with an opioid dependence. If you are a caregiver or loved one of someone with an opioid dependence, it is also important to remember to take care of yourself as well. Having a loved one with an addiction can be exhausting, and it is important to practice self-care during this difficult time in your life. You cannot take care of others if your own tank is running on empty, so make sure you take care of yourself in addition to trying to help your loved one.