Coping & Strategy Tips for Family Talking About Opioid Addiction

When someone in your family or special in your life is struggling with addiction, it’s hard to watch them suffer. However, many individuals are fearful of confronting their friend or family member because of the way they might react. It’s understandable. A lot is riding on a successful outcome, but we don’t want you to feel alone in this situation. There are a few common concerns most people face when approaching someone they love about addiction. We’ve outlined some of the questions many people ask and have provided coping strategies to overcome them.

Opioid Addiction

No one wants to believe their loved one is addicted to opioids. The loss of a loved one to addiction is heartbreaking. Asking yourself if you are overreacting, is a part of the denial stage which means there is a reason why you are here. More than likely, the person in question isn’t behaving like their usual self. They might seem jittery, have excuses that don’t add up, disappear for days, take money, or lose their job. Additionally, you might have noticed extreme mood swings and a downward spiral in their appearance. These are all signs of addiction and being aware of the problem is the first step towards helping yourself and your loved one.

How to Cope

Remember this isn’t just happening to someone you care about; it’s happening to you too and compassion is crucial. A situation like this requires vulnerability on both sides, and you don’t want your emotions to cloud your judgment. Try to avoid looking for someone to blame or overly critical thoughts.

Strategy Tips

Taking stock of your loved one’s behavior in a non-invasive way can help provide clarity on whether their addiction is real. Take a few weeks to make notes. If you are still concerned with what you see, confide in someone you trust. By doing so, you don’t bear the full weight of the situation on your shoulders, because dealing with addiction is a huge emotional responsibility. Recruiting help gives you an extra pair of eyes.

Refusing Help

It’s amazing what fear can do to the body and addressing addiction can be scary. The fear of a loved one in denial can be so consuming it paralyzes us from making the first move. The last thing you want is to plan an intervention that results in contempt. Making them angry is one thing, but having them flat out refuse to get help is another. It can often make you feel lost, hurt, and confused. Planning an intervention takes time and a lot of emotional consideration. We’ve said this once, and we will say it again. Addiction doesn’t just affect the user; it affects those around them too. All you want is to see your loved one take a step on the path to recovery, and flat-out denial is heartbreaking.

How to Cope

Loving someone who has a dependency on opioids is definitely a challenge. The first thing you should do is be compassionate towards yourself. There is a reason why on an airplane you are instructed to help yourself before you help others. You can’t help others without caring for yourself. Set aside time to formulate a list of reasons why you want to help them. Remind yourself of these reasons when times get tough, or when you feel defeated.

Strategy Tips

Sitting an individual down in a room while everyone talks to them about their addiction is an outdated method. It limits the amount of discussion for the affected person which may lead to a “no” without any real consideration. Clinicians now favor an updated approach where the loved one is allowed to participate in the dialogue. The idea is to create a safe space where everyone can voice their feelings without fear of reproach.

Confronting an Addict

Naturally, when you see someone you love and care about struggling, you don’t want to add to their stress. Sometimes addiction strikes an individual who you thought previously would never touch the stuff. That can throw anyone a little off balance. When this occurs, you might ask yourself, “how did this happen?”. If your primary concern is helping your loved one, making them angry is understandably not the route you want to go. The fear that they might never see or speak to you again is common. If they don’t, how can you help them recover? Realistically, the question you should be asking is, “what happens if I don’t confront them?” Opioid addiction is serious. Many issues arise when addiction takes over like losing jobs, a decline in health, and unfortunately death. In 2016, 46 people died every day from overdoses, and that included prescription drugs. Confronting your loved one and making them angry is better than losing them entirely to addiction.

If you need any assistance in planning an intervention or discussing how to approach your loved one, give us a call or contact us to speak with one of our seasoned admissions persons. Our experience in these kinds of situations can make a big difference for your family.

How to Cope

Identifying your boundaries is a great way to help during an emotional situation like drug addiction. Outlining your terms and conditions will make it easier to sit down with your loved one and talk about this challenging subject matter. These terms don’t necessarily need to be said out loud but are there for your own benefit. You can refer to them as often as possible to help keep you focused.  

Strategy Tips

In order to form the best version of an argument, you need to understand intricacies of the situation. If you aren’t ready to confront your loved one just yet, give yourself the time to investigate recovery options. Presenting someone with a plan might make the concept of rehab more digestible. When you are ready, try to speak with them when they are sober.

We understand the challenges you might face and are here to help addicts and their families navigate these tricky times. We can help plan your intervention. We can walk you through scenarios that you should be prepared for. We’re here for you and your loved one, and it’s our mission to find solutions for you.


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