How do I support a loved one with an opioid addiction?

  • 25 May, 2018

How do I support a loved one with an opioid addiction?


Opioid addiction and abuse has become a full-blown epidemic in the United States, more than two million Americans have become dependent on, or abused prescription pain pills or street drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that half of young people who inject heroin turned to the street drug after abusing prescription painkillers, and a that three out of four new heroin users start out using prescription drugs but turn to heroin because it is less expensive. The opioid crisis has resulted in devastating consequences on the health and well-being of individuals nationwide.

Family members and caregivers can also face devastating consequences when dealing with a loved one facing opioid use disorder, the clinical term for opioid addiction or abuse.

Here are six tips for supporting a loved one with an opioid addiction:


1. Educate yourself about addition and understand the opioid epidemic.

Research teams are conducting studies every day. They are constantly learning more about how substances interact with cells inside the brain, using the knowledge to develop new treatments. Staying informed and educated about emerging treatments can foster a sense of hope and optimism.


2. Connect with supportive peers.

Coping with a family member with an addition isn’t easy. The long-term effects of this kind of dysfunction can include communication barriers, and mistrust among family members impacted.

Trusted programs provide a nonjudgmental, safe space for family members to learn, discuss, and overcome the addiction.

A survey performed for an article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reported that family members were most often drawn to meetings for help with:

  • Better quality of life
  • Fewer problems with the addicted person
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Improved psychological health

Meetings can help family members cope with their feelings of isolation, as well as teach family members the skills they need to handle the problems they’re facing.


3. Attend family therapy sessions.

Dealing with addiction can result in family members becoming distant from one another. They are unable to talk openly about the issue, which can result in talking about nothing at all. Blame games can ensue, resulting a in a crippled family.

To aid in overcoming addiction, a family needs to operate like a well-oiled machine. It can be difficult to coordinate agendas and commitments to accommodate family therapy, but it should be made a priority as the work is vital to the health of everyone involved. Let’s Talk Counseling offers the convenience of HIPAA secure virtual therapy sessions that can be accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.


4. Manage expectations.

When an individual facing addiction enters treatment, the sense of hope that the family feels can be overwhelming.

Changing the patterns associated with addiction takes time and the slow rate of change can result in disappointments.Recovery is a process that comes with pitfalls, and relapse is a normal part of the recovery process that can help one determine their triggers. Re-engaging in a treatment program can help them learn more about their addiction, which will improve their ability to remain sober and clean.

Individuals in recovery may not be their ideal selves, but the family can still enjoy their time and togetherness.


5. Maintain your personal physical and mental health.

Regular sleep loss can be a mood killer. The Harvard Medical School suggests that individuals who got 4.5 hours of sleep per night for one week reported higher levels of anger, stress, sadness, and mental exhaustion. Establishing a regular sleep schedule, in which bedtimes and wake times are firmly fixed, can help prime the brain for deep sleep.

Regular exercise is also important. Exercise delivers “feel good” chemicals like oxygen and dopamine that have been proven to reduce feelings of stress and depression.

Every family member needs to take time to do something that is relaxing and fulfilling. Hobbies that make the participant fee happy are done to preserve a sense of efficiency and self-worth. That could include:

  • Taking a walk
  • Playing an instrument
  • Crafting
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Volunteering
  • Playing with children or animals               

To effectively support a loved one coping with addiction, each family member needs to be focused on maintaining their own physical health and bliss.

The three C’s of dealing with a loved one facing addiction:

  • You did not Cause the addiction
  • You cannot Control the addiction
  • You cannot Cure the addiction


6. Attend private therapy sessions.

Private therapy sessions provide a safe space for family members to talk openly. It is vital for family members to meet individually with personal counselors to help them overcome and understand their personal issues.


Let’s Talk Counseling offers the benefits of personal therapy sessions with the added convenience of virtual sessions. We provide instant access to a large network of providers who can help caregivers find the strength and resolve they need to support a family member coping with addiction.