When it comes to pain relief, opiate prescription drugs easily fit the bill. Other illegal opiates, such as heroin, work in the same way. What many people don’t know about opiates – prescription drugs, in particular – is how addictive these drugs can be. According to Harvard Health Publications, opiate addiction rates tripled between the years 1992 and 2002. By 2009, an estimated 2 million Americans reported themselves as opiate dependent.
Helping an opiate dependent loved one overcome addiction takes a little bit of finesse. It also means setting clear, straightforward boundaries on what you will and will not tolerate. Ultimately, an opiate dependent loved one will have to reach a point where getting drug treatment help is the only way to go.
If there ever was a silent killer, pain relief medications would rank in the top ten. In 2007, pain medications killed five times as many people as heroin and twice as many people as cocaine. Surprisingly, a legal prescription drug can’t protect anyone from an unexpected opiate addiction, let alone frequent brushes with death. An opiate dependent loved one is actually one step away from a full-blown addiction. Taking steps to do something now can maybe prevent a loved one from falling headlong into an addiction lifestyle.
Though opiate dependent, it may not be that easy to spot signs of drug abuse since the behavior component of addiction hasn’t kicked in yet. Someone who’s opiate dependent may exhibit one or more of the following signs:
- Mood swings
- Financial problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Missing or stolen medications
- Frequent doctor’s appointments
Once a person is opiate dependent, the body pretty much needs the drug to function. In this condition, physical cravings drive a person’s behavior, which makes it all but impossible for him or her to stop using.
Supporting vs. Enabling a Loved One
A strong and solid support system at home can be the very best thing an opiate dependent loved one has going for him or her. It’s vitally important to not enable a loved one’s behaviors or emotional outbursts. This means setting firm boundaries and following through when a loved one crosses the line.
Ways to establish a solid support system include:
- Not lying or making excuses for him or her
- Not picking up the slack in cases where something around the house doesn’t get done
- Not loaning money
- Not obtaining drugs for a loved one
- Not taking the blame for a loved one’s behavior
While loved ones may get themselves into trouble over drugs, unless they realize their actions have consequences, they’ll never be able to make the decision to get help. A family support system can go a long way towards helping a loved reach that point.
Being prepared for when a loved one decides to get help makes follow-through that much easier and leaves little time for a loved one to change his or her mind. Once they complete opiate addiction treatment, keeping a strong and solid family support system intact can help loved ones avoid becoming opiate dependent again.