Opioid Addiction Help for Your Loved Ones

Is someone you care about addicted to opioids (painkillers or heroin)? You may have noticed changes in behavior, opiate addiction symptoms and signs, or deteriorating success at work, home and with relationships. If the person you care about is exhibiting addictive behaviors, realize that addiction is a brain disease. Like other diseases, the affected organ no longer functions as it once did. In the case of opioid addiction, the brain does not function properly and medication-assisted treatment is one way to gain back physical stability. Similar to diabetes where insulin helps the individual normalize, medication can provide stability to an opioid dependent individual in order for them to start the healing process.

As a person that cares about the addicted individual, you play an important role in providing encouragement and motivation to the addicted individual to seek treatment and remain committed to treatment. Additional ways that you can help those you care about is by providing practical ways to help them stay focused on recovery such as offering rides to treatment, encouraging the individual to partake in one on one and group counseling, offering to join family counseling, and providing support in finding employment.

At New Season, a comprehensive recovery program model is used to help patients heal their body, mind and spirit so they can be of greater value to themselves, their loved ones and their communities. Program costs cover medications used in a medication-assisted treatment customized to the individual’s needs, medical exams, individual, group and family counseling. Privacy of the individual and their family are a high priority and all records are strictly confidential.

Action Steps to Help a Loved One Struggling with Opioid Addiction

  • Learn about opioid addiction – read about addiction and the signs to look for.
  • Observe – monitor the person’s behavior over a period of days or weeks and keep specific notes of what you see.
  • Share your observations – talk to family members who can help and/or an addiction specialist to gain more perspective on the situation and determine next steps.
  • Have a conversation with the addicted individual – find uninterrupted time when you can have a two-way private and calm dialogue. Share your concerns and seek to understand the other person’s perspective on the situation. Additional tips for having a productive conversation include:
    • Ensure the person is not under the influence.
    • Do not be under the influence yourself.
    • When meeting, share how much you care for the person first.
    • List the facts of what you have observed and express your concern.
    • Ask open-ended questions to understand the other person’s viewpoint.
    • Encourage the person to set an appointment with a treatment specialist for an initial screening and consultation.

Preparing for an Overdose Situation

Naloxone is a life-saving medication approved by the FDA since 1971 and used to counteract an opioid overdose. Naloxone kits, similar to epi-pens for severe allergic reactions, should be a consideration to have at home to prevent overdose. Kits are easy to use (administered through nasal spray or injection) and easy to procure (available in some states without a prescription or with prescription upon request and does not need to be requested from the end user).

Administration should be immediate if a first responder finds a person is overdosing. Signs of overdose include the person being unresponsive, shallow or stopped breathing, pale skin, dilated pupils, nose/lips turn blue. When applied, the medication may take up to five minutes to work. Rescue breathing and dialing 911 is recommended.