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How to Approach a Loved One Using Illicit Opioids

by Nick

Approaching someone with an addiction does not come naturally to most people. Even if it’s someone you love, broaching this sensitive topic will undoubtedly feel awkward, challenging or even scary. You may worry that bringing up the problem will make it worse, that you’ll hurt your relationship or that you’re overstepping. Yet, illicit or even prescription opioid addiction can be a life-and-death situation. A conversation could be the turning point that encourages your loved one to get help.

If you’re not sure what to do, here’s how to approach a loved one misusing opioids.

With Understanding

Remember, although your loved one’s opioid addiction may be tearing your family or relationship apart, they didn’t choose this. Addiction is a serious disease that hijacks the brain. If you take the time to learn more about opioid use disorder, you can better understand what your loved one is experiencing.

With Caution

Your loved one may not be ready to hear what you have to say. Many people deny that they have an issue, get defensive or react in anger. So, approach the situation with caution, especially if you have reason to fear for your safety. Stay calm and respectful, and express your concerns. Even if your loved one doesn’t admit to having an opioid addiction, this conversation may plant a seed.

With Compassion

Often, people struggling with addiction think they’ll never recover. They may believe they’re unworthy of help or experience low self-esteem, shame and self-hatred. Accusations and blame will only make your loved one feel worse. So, come to them with a sense of compassion and empathy. Convey your concerns in a loving, respectful way.

Remember, you are there to provide your loved one with support. A huge part of your conversation will involve listening and responding when appropriate with encouraging words, such as:

  • You are not alone.
  • I love you and want to help.
  • I will be here for you.

With Support From Others

Opioid addiction impacts everyone close to the person struggling with the disease. Approaching your loved one can be stressful and draining, so it’s important to enlist your own support. This could be other friends or family members. You can also go to support groups to find encouragement, solidarity and practical advice on how to help your loved one moving forward.

With Common Sense

Try to have realistic expectations. Just because you’ve taken this huge step to approach your loved one, you can’t expect them to overcome opioid addiction overnight. Recovery can be a long and difficult road, and the person you care for will need support every step of the way.

By starting the conversation, you’ve made it far more likely that your loved one will take the next step. You can also broach the topic again after a little while to see how they respond.

Help Your Loved One Find Opioid Addiction Treatment Options

If everything goes well, your loved one may be ready to get help. So, before starting the conversation, assemble a list of ready and accessible treatment options.

Whether your loved one is addicted to prescription pills or illicit opioids like heroin, Health Care Resource Centers can help. We combine evidence-based medication-assisted treatment with addiction counseling and personalized care to help our patients fight back against opioid use disorder.

If you’re planning to approach your loved one about their addiction, we invite you to reach out to us today. We can answer your questions and help you prepare for your loved one’s first steps toward recovery.

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