For many people, it’s completely normal to visit the pharmacy and fill a prescription. But when a loved one misuses their prescription drugs, this simple act puts them at risk. The abuse of medications is a growing issue across the country, and opioid overdose is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It’s scary to witness a friend or loved one grow to depend on a prescription that was supposed to help them. Maybe you want to take action, but you’re not sure what to do.
If you suspect that a loved one’s substance use has become a problem, there are some steps you can take to try to help them.
Why Do People Take Prescription Drugs?
There are medications for nearly every condition, from opioids for chronic pain to benzos for anxiety. Sadly, many of these drugs have addictive properties that few people are prepared for. What began as a straightforward treatment can morph into something more treacherous if your loved one is not careful. Some of the most common reasons people take and misuse prescription drugs include:
- Relief of physical pain
- Relaxation or to reduce tension
- Help with sleep
- Staying awake or alert
- Help concentrating or studying
Addiction is a disease. While the initial choice to take their prescription drug may have been under your loved one’s control, prolonged or repeated misuse can change the brain and impact their ability to self-regulate. Quitting becomes nearly impossible, even if your friend or family member desperately wants to. Professional treatment may be the only way your loved one can overcome prescription drug addiction.
How to Help a Drug-Addicted Loved One
Wanting to help your friend or family member stop misusing their prescription drugs is a noble goal. However, the process can be intimidating and overwhelming. You cannot force your loved one to stop using. All you can do is offer them support and guidance and encourage them to seek out professional drug addiction treatment options. Here are some steps you can take to be a source of hope for your loved one.
1. Have an Open Conversation
Meet with your friend or family member one-on-one. Leave judgment and condemnation at the door and offer empathy and understanding. Tell them that you know about their prescription drug problem. Listen to their concerns and fears. Recognize that it takes a lot of courage to admit they have a problem and that pursuing treatment is brave, not shameful.
2. Help Find Treatment Programs
Before your conversation, you may want to come prepared with addiction treatment options specializing in prescription drug use. Knowing your loved one as well as you do, you’ll be able to find programs that fit their unique needs and lifestyle.
3. Research Addiction and Withdrawal
Your friend or family member may be scared to get off their prescription medication. They may have tried to quit before only to be met with intense, painful withdrawal symptoms. If you’re prepared to answer some of their questions about the detox process, you can help quell their fears. Many programs offer medication-assisted treatment to ensure they can safely and comfortably get clean.
4. Offer Practical Help
When you talk to your loved one, they may have a dozen excuses why now is not the right time to get treatment. You can help minimize and eliminate these perceived barriers if you are willing. Your help could include:
- Explaining that HIPAA laws protect their privacy if they’re worried about the stigma of addiction
- Making travel arrangements if they don’t have a way to get to rehab
- Arranging reliable childcare if they have to leave their children to attend treatment
Learn More About Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment for Your Loved One
This simple admission that your family member or friend is addicted to drugs can either leave you feeling burdened by indecision or empowered to take action. Your words, encouragement and decisiveness could be what saves your loved one’s life.
Battling a prescription drug addiction can be overwhelming, but your loved one doesn’t have to face this experience alone. The team at Gateway Foundation is here to guide them through the recovery process. Our individualized treatment programs ensure they get the care they deserve. Please contact us to learn more. The road to healing can begin today.