Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of pill abusers has soared in the past years in countries all across the globe. This not only happens on an individual level, but also in healthcare institutions where doctors end up prescribing pain medication with too much ease. This, of course, only determines patients to become unable to self-heal and to ultimately rely solely on drugs. This behavior has led, among others, to a veritable opioid epidemic, following which the number of lawsuits has also increased among the victims or their relatives.
Who Is Liable to Suffer from Such an Addiction?
However, there are also many users who’ve tried opioid medication once to treat their pain, but then returned to it later on for the euphoria they feel when using it. Needless to say, opioid users develop a tolerance for these drugs in a relatively short period of time and constantly need to get their fix in order to keep going. Whenever they don’t, they suffer from agonizing withdrawal symptoms and will most likely enter a vicious, self-destructive cycle that often ends with fatal overdoses.
Considering the great potential for abuse that opioids have, there’s a great chance you know someone who is struggling with dependence or addiction. Knowing how to identify their issue and how to offer them support in this time of dire need may actually save their life.
The Difference Between Dependence and Addiction
Before any assessment is made, you should first distinguish between having a dependence and having an addiction. Being dependent means that your body cannot properly function without that certain substance, while being addicted means your body cannot function without that specific substance, despite the negative side effects it brings with it. However, it's important to know that although dependence is not as severe, it often acts as an indicator that addiction is lurking close by.
What You Shouldn’t Do
The first and most aggravating mistake that friends and family of opiate addicts make is to provide them with the resources they need to carry on with their addiction. In this case, providing them with a home or helping them out with money is referred to as ‘negative enabling,’ since these resources actually keep them in their comfort zone, without challenging them to change something about their life.
Instead, the money you provide an opiate addict with is surely going to fuel more drug use, in terms of both quantity and frequency. In other words, addicts who benefit from a constant intake of money and use it to purchase more drugs, will most likely progress very quickly through their addiction. This, in turn, means that funds from family and friends will soon become insufficient, determining them to ultimately resort to theft.
The only way out of this is to refuse opiate addicts any help, even if they react poorly to your decision or if they counterattack with emotional blackmail.
What You Can and Should Do
The next thing you can do is to admit that an addiction can be overwhelming to deal with, even from the outside. This is why you should seek outside professional support, either in the form of support groups or therapists. However, remember that in most cases friends and family of opiate addicts who’ve once said ‘no’ to negative enabling are at great risk of relapsing themselves and thus, they may return to their old behavior of lending out a helping hand.
Having said this, in order for your help to be more consistent and effective, you need to immediately work on positive enabling as soon as you refuse to indulge in the negative one. You need to let the suffering opiate addict know you do care about their well-being and that you don’t blame them for their situation, but that you can no longer contribute to their addiction. Instead, if you have the financial means, you can help them pay for their professional treatment, since they most likely do not have the necessary funds themselves.
Another thing you can do to help a loved one is to make their situation known to other relatives and friends. There is certainly power in numbers — the more of you are determined to see your loved one get back on the right track, the greater the strength and control you have over the situation.
All in all, if your loved one is suffering from opiate addiction, remember to show your love and care for them in a way that doesn’t sustain their addiction, but rather encourages them to change something in their life for the better.