How to Help a Loved One Get Help for Opioid Dependence and Addiction

Know the Signs

Opioid dependence and addiction are potential risks when taking prescription opioids. Opioid misuse is when you take opioids in a manner not prescribed by your doctor. Opioid misuse can lead to dependence and addiction. Dependence means you feel withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Continued use can lead to addiction, where you continue to use opioids even though you’re experiencing negative consequences. Loved ones are usually able to recognize when addiction develops. Signs of opioid misuse and abuse can be found here.

Intervene with Compassion

If you believe a loved one is abusing opioids, it is important to intervene with compassion and a spirit of non-judgment. The person suffering from opioid use disorders might feel shame and frustration on top of struggling with dependence or addiction. The Council on Substance Abuse-NCADD (COSA-NCADD) can provide resources that will be useful and informative as you navigate helping a loved one who suffers from opioid use disorders.

Understand Treatment for Opioid Dependence and Addiction

The best treatment for opioid addiction is indefinite, and can sometimes require lifelong maintenance with either methadone or buprenorphine. Experts agree that this is the best approach for opioid addiction. Families and loved ones are sometimes unsupportive of maintenance medications because they think the patients receiving treatment are still high or have replaced one addiction with another; however, these perceptions are incorrect. Methadone and buprenorphine create a high level of tolerance for opioids so they keep the patient from getting the high they have sought from opioid abuse in the past.

Be Prepared for Relapse

It is important to know that relapse is a common part of the recovery process. Relapse doesn’t mean treatment has failed, it just means continued treatment and attention are necessary. Of course, relapse can be dangerous, because there is a risk of overdose during relapse. That’s why many people who have loved ones in opioid recovery keep naloxone on hand.

Naloxone is a direct antidote to opioids. People who experience an opioid overdose usually lose the ability to breathe very slowly over the course of several hours. If administered in time, naloxone can save people from opioid overdose. COSA-NCADD can help you find more information on naloxone and how to administer it.

No Judgment. Help is Here.

COSA-NCADD is here to help you get help. We offer recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorders and their families. Together with peers in recovery, treatment providers, and other community organizations, we strive to offer hope while meeting the specialized needs of those seeking help.

If you or someone you know needs help with opioid use disorders, please call 1-877-HELP-4AL now. The helpline provides confidential assistance for those who need help themselves and guidance for those seeking help for loved ones. When you call, you’ll be greeted by a friendly, compassionate peer-support specialist who has personal experience in recovery from a mental health or substance abuse issue. They are here to help you and will never judge you or your circumstances.