As I’ve cared for my family members through their struggles with opioid addiction, I’ve learned so much about what can help—and what unintentionally hurts—the process of healing.
There have been times when I was trying to be supportive, and then realized I could have done some things differently. Of course my heart was always in the right place. But through my experiences, I learned to use my head more in deciding what my loved ones with opioid addiction really needed from me.
Here’s an example.
When I discovered my adult son Jack was addicted to opioids years ago, I didn’t want to believe it. I hated the idea of a confrontation, and I honestly didn’t know how to approach him. I was afraid of making him feel angry or not trusted, so I talked myself into believing that if I kept supporting him, maybe he’d realize that he didn’t need opioids in his life.
But when Jack’s good friend called to discuss how worried he was about him, that’s when I realized I wasn’t giving him the support he needed. It was time to pull myself out of denial, acknowledge the problem and help address the situation—no matter how uncomfortable the conversation might be for both of us.
As his mother, there was nothing I wanted more than for everything to just “be okay.” The truth is, it wasn’t until I accepted his opioid addiction and helped him understand that everything was definitely not okay—he was ready to take action and start a treatment plan.
We as caregivers sometimes need to get honest, stay strong and start the conversation about this relapsing brain disease so that we can help our loved ones take the first step toward treatment. When you fully accept the situation, make sure they know that you’re not willing to support their opioid addiction. But you will support their journey on the road to recovery.
You can research detox and rehab centers, different treatment options for opioid dependence, including VIVITROL® (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension), and on this website, you can even use the Treatment Provider Locator to find treatment providers in your area to support them on their road to recovery.
We’re only human, and you probably never expected to become a caregiver for a loved one with an opioid addiction. Just remember that you’re not alone in this. There are many caregivers just like you who are searching for ways to help their loved ones. So don’t be afraid to share your experiences with other caregivers, ask healthcare providers about all treatment options, and continue changing the conversation about opioid addiction.