Family Support for Opiate Addiction
How Opiate Addiction Affects Families
Opiate addiction, like other substance use disorders, is a family disease that hurts many more people than just the addict. Besides the practical damage to things like money and health, family members suffer the emotional toll of broken relationships and may even feel responsible for the addict’s condition. The most effective family support for an addicted loved one is not to excuse or enable the addiction but to reach out for help with becoming sober.
Millions of people are coping with opiate addiction – if you count the family members of those who are addicted. The spouses, partners, parents, and children suffer emotional damage as their relationship with the addict deteriorates, and their loved one repeatedly chooses drugs over them. That’s just the beginning of the damage for many families.
Because opiate addiction often starts as a legitimate treatment for pain, it can be a bewildering disorder.
It may seem like there’s no explanation for how your loved one went from a normal, loving family member to a ruined shell interested only in the next high. It’s especially hard on children, who become victims of neglect and maybe both emotionally and physically abandoned.
The addict may lose their job and cause the family to slide into financial ruin. The stress can lead to physical and emotional violence as the addict takes their problems out on family members. They may end up in jail, on the street, or even dying of an overdose. The saddest fact may be that many addicts are well aware of the damage they’re causing but feel powerless to fix it or even stop it.
What Family Members Can do to Help a Loved One Addicted to Opiates
Just as addiction is a family disease, recovery is a family affair too. Family support is one of the most critical factors in achieving long-term sobriety. But you cannot make your addicted loved one give up their disorder. It has to be a decision they make themselves. But you can help them come to that decision and be available to support them when they make it. Here are some ways to offer tangible help:
- Educate yourself about their addiction. Learn the real causes and symptoms. You may be surprised to learn there could be underlying emotional or physical causes that will help you understand it (but not excuse it).
- Ask other family members to help. Share your concerns with them and make them aware you believe there is a problem. Enlist their aid in supporting and helping your loved one.
- Don’t enable their addiction. You may think you’re helping when you cover for their bad behavior, clean up their messes or even help them get high to keep the peace, but you’re just prolonging their pain and yours.
- Don’t judge or criticize them. Simply let them know they are now responsible for their own actions, and you will not be making excuses to people they hurt or disappoint.
- Offer your help and support. Tell them you love them and want to help. Be available to talk, help them find treatment, or be there for them. Be careful not to nag or insist. Offer them help and then let them come to you when they need it.
Resources to Support Family Members
Family support is vital for helping someone overcome a substance use disorder. But families cant do the whole job. You have many resources available for help, from both professional treatment experts and others who simply have gone through what you’re experiencing.
- 12 Step Programs: You can find these easily online, and many even offer online meetings. Search for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, or contact your local mental health association.
- Call Muse Treatment in Los Angeles, we make family support an essential element of addiction recovery. To find help with opiate addiction for a family member, contact Muse Treatment today at (800) 426-1818.