Maybe it’s just a feeling, or maybe you’ve witnessed some unusual behaviors. If your gut is telling you that your dad is abusing painkillers, don’t ignore your suspicions. Prescription drug addiction is unlike many other substance abuse disorders. Because a doctor usually provides these medications, users can develop a false sense of security. Surely a drug intended to help pain, anxiety or other issues won’t lead to dependency? Sadly, prescription drug use can quickly morph into an addiction.
If your dad is addicted to prescription drugs, that’s not the end of his story. Professional treatment can help him safely and effectively break free. However, you may need to confront this issue head-on to ensure he doesn’t fall further into a life of addiction.
Why Is My Dad Addicted to Painkillers?
Most prescription painkillers are opioids — a class of drugs derived from opium or created in a lab to mimic its effects. Opioids are widely used in the medical field to treat chronic pain. They also are potentially addictive when not taken as directed.
If your dad has been using painkillers for a long time, he may have developed physical dependence. His body has adapted to the presence of his prescription drugs. If he stops taking them abruptly, painful withdrawal symptoms could occur. He may have also built up a tolerance to his medication, needing higher and higher doses to achieve the same effects.
Addiction is a disease characterized by chronic drug use in spite of its adverse effects. Your dad may be at the point where he can’t make it through a single day without his medication. If he indeed has a substance use disorder, he may feel helpless to quit.
Signs That Your Parent Struggles With a Painkiller Addiction
If your dad struggles with an addiction to prescription drugs, there are bound to be red flags. Here are some signs to look out for which could indicate that he’s struggling with a painkiller addiction:
- Neglecting relationships, work and other responsibilities
- Stocking up on his prescription
- Visiting multiple doctors to get more painkillers
- Pretending to lose his prescription to get more
- Taking his prescription even though he no longer needs it
- Buying prescription drugs from illicit sources
How to Help Your Drug-Addicted Dad
It’s heartbreaking to witness a parent in pain. If your dad is addicted to prescription drugs, you may feel hopeless in the face of this horrible disease. Here are a few ways to deal with the pain of having a drug-addicted dad and guide him towards the treatment he needs:
- Attend a support group. It can be hard to talk about parental drug addiction with those who don’t understand. By attending a support group with other children of parents with addictions, you’ll gain valuable coping skills and insight on how to talk to your dad about his condition.
- Research addiction treatment programs. Just because you’re the child doesn’t mean you can’t help your dad find solutions for his drug use disorder. Reach out to a few addiction treatment programs to see if they’d be a good option for your father’s care.
- Talk to your dad. Once you feel prepared, it’s time to have a conversation. Your dad may get defensive or angry. He may even lie about having a problem. Try to keep the talk short and concise. Give him examples of what you’ve seen, and share how his drug use has impacted you. Then, ask him to get help. If needed, enlist the support of other loved ones, like your mom, his friends or your siblings.
Learn About Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment at Gateway Foundation
While you may feel hopeless in the face of your dad’s prescription drug problem, know that there is help — for your dad and your entire family. At Gateway Foundation, our prescription drug treatment program offers support services to those struggling with this horrible disease. We want to see your dad break free from his addiction and lead a healthier life, and we offer a variety of evidence-based treatments and therapies to see this happen.
If you need advice about speaking to your father or you’d like to learn more about our Illinois-based clinics, please contact us today.