Caregiver and patient stories reflect personal stories. Individual experiences may vary. This is not a guarantee of treatment success. Ben is a paid spokesperson for Alkermes.

Falling Into
Opioid Addiction

Ben. B never expected an injury on the basketball court would lead to a battle with opioid dependence. Read his story, and find out how his perspective of opioid addiction has shifted.

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Lance Z.

Q: I have a question for someone who has battled opioid addiction. Were there moments where you wished you had more support?

Ben B.

A: In the beginning of my struggle with opioid addiction, I used to wish my parents understood what I was going through. They thought my opioid use was a choice. But over time, their perspective changed exponentially.

They’ve learned from talking with my healthcare professionals, that opioid addiction is a chronic brain disease, and they know that this isn’t a fight I can just walk away from—it’s a journey I have to face every day. You can hear more about my story here: "Ben’s Story: Fighting Opioid Addiction."

At this point in my recovery journey, knowing my family will always be there to back me up encourages me to keep moving forward. And if I fall, they’ll be there to pick me up. That has meant the world to me. Good luck to you, Lance.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Caregiving and the Power of Vulnerability

Teresa B.

Q: When is the best time to tell your loved one who has an opioid addiction that you will be there for them, but you can no longer be there if they don’t want your help?

Sharon Osbourne

A: Unfortunately, you are the only one who can decide when the best time is in your situation. However, I’ve learned that there’s only so much you can do for someone who doesn’t want help. That’s why setting boundaries whenever you feel it’s needed is so important.

After about 20 years into helping my husband Ozzy battle opioid addiction, I wish I’d spoken up sooner because of the toll it took on my well-being. I became so mentally and physically exhausted that I’d forgotten to care of myself. And when taking on other people’s problems became too much, there finally came a breaking point.

When I worked up the courage to shift focus to my well-being, I was able to address the situation more objectively. It gave me the strength to move forward and take on each day as it came. If you’d like to read more about a few things I’ve learned, check out my post here.

It’s not easy setting boundaries, but it can make a difference in a caregiver’s life. It did for me, and I hope it will for you. Keep being brave, Teresa. Take care of yourself.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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My Caregiver Path to Understanding Opioid Addiction

Annie E.

Q: As a caregiver, sometimes I get impatient and worn down from all the emotional ups and downs of the recovery journey. How do you cope with these feelings?

Sharon Osbourne

A: When I look back on the times my husband Ozzy relapsed, it was difficult for me as a caregiver being so hopeful one moment and then completely discouraged the next. At one point I was so disappointed in everyone and everything that I asked Ozzy, "Why can’t you just stop? Why aren’t you trying harder?" The truth is, opioid addiction is a chronic brain disease. It’s a journey of ups and downs for both caregivers and their loved ones.

We caregivers sometimes use our emotions more than logic in stressful situations. Sometimes we have those "bad days", but that’s OK because we can learn from them. There were times when I felt guilty for being so emotional, but I had to stop and remind myself that we’re only human, after all.

Over the years, I’ve taken the time to educate myself about this chronic brain disease and know about all available treatment options. It’s helped to have that understanding. And it’s amazing how differently I look at opioid addiction now. If you want to learn more, reaching out to a healthcare provider is a great place to start.

To read more about my story and how I’ve dealt with the stress of being a caregiver, read my post, "Begin With Acceptance." Be good to yourself and thank you so much for reaching out.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Heather R.

Q: I want to be the best possible caregiver for my husband, but that’s a lot of pressure. Did you ever feel that you’d made a mistake caring for a loved one?

Sharon Osbourne

A:

Sharon Osbourne has long been a caregiver of loved ones suffering from opioid or alcohol dependence. Ms. Osbourne does not have opioid or alcohol dependence and neither she nor her loved ones have had treatment with VIVITROL® (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension).

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Learning to be a Caregiver

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Open Communication: A Powerful Caregiver Tool

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Overcoming Caregiver Guilt

Mandy T.

Q: If my adult sister relapses during treatment for opioid dependence, does this mean I'm doing something wrong? Have we failed?

Sharon Osbourne

A: Thanks so much for your question, Mandy. Opioid addiction is a chronic brain disease and experiencing some setbacks is part of the recovery journey.

I would encourage you to stay determined. I've learned from supporting Ozzy that recovery from opioid dependence is a journey. And as with any other journey, our loved ones may temporarily go off course. That doesn't mean they've failed or that you've failed your loved one. It means it's time to refocus, connect with a healthcare professional and get back on the recovery journey.

Lui D., a Certified Addiction Professional, talks about this topic further in a video called, "Relapse and the Recovery Journey." I'd encourage you to watch it for more helpful insights.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Relapse Doesn't Mean Failure

Keisha D.

Q: I was talking with a friend about my husband who struggles with opioid addiction. Could you tell me if there are any FDA approved treatments for opioid dependence?

Dr. Stahl

A: For some people treating their opioid addiction, medically assisted treatments may be helpful.

There are three types of medications: agonist, partial agonist, and antagonist. The video "The Science Behind the Disease of Opioid Addiction" with Sharon Osbourne and Dr. O’Connor discusses these options, along with the changes in brain function that cause the disease of opioid dependence.

I’d also encourage you and your husband to talk with his healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of all treatment options to find one that’s right for him.

There’s more details on how the three types of medications work here.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease. Dr. Stahl is a paid spokesperson of Alkermes.

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Opening Up. Helping Others.

Michelle T.

Q: I think my adult son may be struggling with opioid addiction. This situation is so new to us that we don’t know the first thing about where to find help. Should I help him consider a healthcare professional?

Dr. O’Connor

A: I relate to the worry you must be feeling—my own adult son is on his own recovery journey. You’re doing the right thing in asking these important questions.

While your support is key, I’m glad you realize this process is too big to rest on your shoulders alone. In my experience as a caregiver, I found that there were various healthcare professionals in the field of opioid addiction to talk with including, addiction specialists, psychiatrists, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. There are also counselors, psychologists and general practitioners your son may want to reach out to. A person who is struggling with this chronic brain disease may ultimately need the help of a team of health professionals and personal caregivers alike.

My son considered rehabilitation and detox facilities as well as counseling. These, including contacting his healthcare provider and learning about all available treatment options, were options we explored during his recovery journey. If your son doesn’t have a healthcare provider and needs help finding one, try using the Provider Locator Tool.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Cassandra R.

Q: Do you have any tips to share on how you help keep your loved ones on track during their opioid recovery journeys?

Sharon Osbourne

A: No matter what your circumstances, caring for a loved one during their opioid recovery journey can be overwhelming. Trust me, I know.

Try talking with your loved one to understand their goals. These can be anything from researching all available treatment options to helping them find a counselor. And once you’re aligned, help them achieve these goals by encouraging them and celebrating small wins along the way. If there’s one thing I learned from my caregiver journey, it’s to take the process day by day and cherish every small victory.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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The Importance of a Strong Support System

Jon W.

Q: I’m caring for my wife, who struggles with opioid addiction, but I’m starting to feel that my attempts to support her aren’t always helping. What should I do?

Sharon Osbourne

A: It can be hard to watch a loved one struggle with this chronic brain disease. You want to help them any way you can.

In my experience, I had to learn when to lean in with my support and when to step back. I was always willing to help, but deciding how and to what measure proved difficult.

I’ve found that having a clear and open line of communication with a loved one can help tremendously. I suggest talking with your wife to gauge her needs, talk to your healthcare provider and don’t forget to take care of your own needs as well. If you want to read more about supporting your loved one, check out my post, "Talking to a Loved One With Opioid Addiction."

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Seeing the Signs of Opioid Addiction

Chris N.

Q: I think my adult daughter might be addicted to opioids. What should I do?

Sharon Osbourne

A: When I first learned my adult son, Jack, was using opioids I took a moment to calm myself. Although it can be challenging to see our loved ones struggle, it helped me to stop everything, breathe, and then try thinking about the situation rationally. It might help you to watch this video featuring Certified Addiction Professional Luis D. In the video, he talks about how to identify some of the signs of opioid addiction. After many years of helping my family fight opioid addiction, I learned that staying aware of all available treatment options is important.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Supporting a Loved One Who Has Relapsed

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Begin With Acceptance

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Talking to a Loved One With Opioid Addiction

Ben D.

Q: I keep thinking about all the things I could have done or said to prevent my brother from developing an opioid addiction. How can I start helping him?

Dr. O’Connor

A: First of all, we as caregivers have to stop blaming ourselves. We can't control the past, only what we do now. I'm a big believer in the phrase "knowledge is power," and when it comes to opioid addiction, knowing all you can about all treatment options may help. I know it helped me when my adult son was struggling with this disease. So, I encourage you to do as much research as you can as well.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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Jared O.

Q: I just discovered that my wife is suffering with an opioid addiction. Now what do I do?

Sharon Osbourne

A: Discovering a loved one's opioid addiction is an emotional rollercoaster. I know, I’ve been there. You might be frightened, confused, or even upset. You may even find it tempting to jump right in and have a confrontation. But you only get one chance to set the tone, so I’d suggest taking a deep breath. Contact a healthcare professional and ask about all treatment options. They may also suggest ways you can help your wife. I talk more about this in my posts, which you can read here.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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VIDEO

Sharon’s Story

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Treatment Starts With Knowing Your Options

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Helping to Fight the Opioid Crisis Together

Danny B.

Q: What’s the best advice you have about taking care of yourself when caring for someone with an opioid addiction?

Sharon Osbourne

A: I’ll tell you, one of the things that has surprised me is how much you can neglect yourself when you’re consumed by helping someone you love. Remember that caring for a loved one isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. Something that helped me keep going was to take a little time for myself amid the chaos. It’s much harder to be strong for your loved one if you’re running on empty.

This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

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This is not medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider for any questions about opioid dependence and to discuss the diagnosis and possible treatment options of the disease.

See Important Safety Information below. Discuss all benefits and risks with a healthcare provider. See Prescribing Information and Medication Guide below.

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