America’s opioid epidemic continues to be a disconcerting issue faced by many who have gone through serious surgical procedures requiring pain medications during rehabilitation. It is shockingly easy for one to become addicted to painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, or fentanyl following a major surgery. Weaning off these medications is much easier said than done and requires much support. For a family member or friend seeing their loved one experience this, can be extremely difficult at times.
Helping someone who is struggling with a narcotics addiction should be prioritized for the sake of that person’s health. The more time that passes, the harder it becomes, and the more resistant to help the individual may be. Frustration is entirely normal because of this, but putting their well-being ahead of yours is essential in helping them overcome this addiction.
A person struggling with an addiction to painkillers often thinks that their addiction is justified following a major surgical issue. They may feel as though the pain will return or they will not properly recover, despite progress already made. It is important to note however, that addiction is much different than dependence.
- Addiction – Continued abuse of a substance despite bodily harm.
- Dependence – The body has become dependent on the substance to function.
No matter the reason why your friend or family member may be abusing narcotics, your intervention is essential.
The first step in helping requires compassion. Show concern for the individual struggling with this addiction without coming off as judgemental. Addiction is a sickness not unlike any other chronic illnesses. That being said, the way you phrase your pleas for change are extremely important. Instead of demanding they seek help, tell them you are here for them and you’d like to offer assistance yourself.
You don’t have to approach this situation alone either. Consult a physician if you suspect a family member or loved one may be abusing opioids or narcotics of any kind. You can keep track of their prescriptions, making note of how much they are prescribed versus how much they may be taking.
As a safety precaution, always know the signs of an overdose. It’s a harsh reality that many people are afraid to face, but knowing what to do in an event of an overdose can spell the difference between life and death. Ask your physician for a prescription of naloxone to be safe; a medication designed to quickly reverse an opioid overdose.
Once the individual struggling with this addiction has accepted that they have a problem, the work does not stop there. Stay actively involved with any rehabilitation programs they take part in, communicate regularly with them and the professionals they are working with, and help when and wherever you can.
Treating a narcotics addiction as soon as possible is essential in helping the individual struggling. Remain involved even after rehabilitation programs have been completed, as relapse is common and entirely possible. Having your family member or loved one get the help that they need is one small step in the fight against America’s opioid epidemic.