Addictions are a dangerous problem that plague people of all ages and races, but it hits home when it happens to someone you love. Opioid addictions are especially dangerous, and they don't only affect the person living with the addiction. They also impact family and friends, who often want to do whatever they can to help.
Taking care of yourself is as crucial as helping the person you love who’s living with the addiction. If you're unsure where to start, Dr. Lori Scott and her excellent team at Lori Scott Family Care in Kinston, North Carolina, are here to help.
Dr. Scott has years of experience treating opioid and alcohol dependence. She offers personalized care and strives to provide patients and their loved ones with essential information about substance use disorders. Are you trying to help a loved one with an opioid addiction? Here’s what you should know.
Understanding an opioid addiction
Opioid addiction, or opioid use disorder, is a serious problem that develops when an individual can’t stop using prescription or illegal opioid drugs.
Opioids are medications that doctors prescribe for pain management, especially after a severe injury or surgery. The medication works by binding to opioid receptors in the body, blocking pain through the spinal cord and nerves.
While most opioids are medications, heroin is a highly addictive street drug that's extremely dangerous and has no medical use.
Although they're effective at relieving pain, opioids become addictive over time, especially in patients with chronic pain. They’re highly addictive when taken even for short periods. Trying to stop taking opioids usually results in withdrawal symptoms.
An addiction happens when someone can't stop taking opioids despite wanting to quit. Their tolerance for the drug continues to increase, meaning they need more of the drug to get the same euphoric or pain relieving effect, and they often spend much of their time on the addiction.
An opioid addiction typically interferes with every aspect of the person's life, including work, school, and relationships.
Tips for assisting your loved one
The National Library of Medicine reports that 3 million people in the United States live with an opioid addiction, and 500,000 people are addicted to heroin. It's difficult to read these numbers, especially if you know someone living with an addiction.
However, assisting a loved one through an opioid addiction is often challenging. These tips aim to help you both overcome the addiction and improve quality of life.
1. Be supportive
Your loved one needs support and love through the ups and downs of coming off an opioid addiction. Be patient as they seek treatment, and support them through every step.
2. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is a crucial step. You must protect yourself, your well-being, and your finances while helping them overcome their addiction.
3. Educate yourself
One of the best things you can do to help is learning everything you can about the disease so you're prepared for anything during your loved one's journey.
4. Set realistic expectations
It's easy to want the person you're helping to overcome their addiction quickly, but that's usually not the case. You must be realistic with your expectations during every step of the process, recognizing that they're dealing with a complicated disease that consumes their life.
5. Avoid enabling
Many people enable an addict without even realizing they're doing it. For example, helping the addict with financial troubles typically prolongs the disease. Many addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can bring themselves to seek help.
6. Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself should always be your top priority; you can't help an addict if you're not healthy and mentally strong. Seek help from a counselor or therapist to learn healthy ways to cope with your loved one's addiction.
7. Seek help right away
As soon as you notice a problem, seek professional help immediately. The longer you wait to get help, the further the disease progresses, putting your loved one at risk for severe consequences.
Dr. Scott can help your loved one overcome an opioid use disorder and guide them to stick to a treatment plan for long-term success.
If you or someone you love needs help dealing with opioid addiction, don't hesitate to call Lori Scott Family Care today at 252-513-1749 or request a consultation through this website anytime.