Many of us have been, or are continuing to be, affected by the opioid epidemic in some way. Whether you’ve gone through struggles with addiction yourself, or are dealing with the addiction of a family member or friend, you’re certainly not alone. The prevalence of the opioid crisis in the United States won’t be diminished without raising awareness and promoting understanding.

Here are a few ways that you can help support a loved one dealing with opioid addiction.

Understanding Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction can look different for whoever is struggling with it. Some people might be prescribed an opioid as a pain treatment, and simply fear the effects of withdrawal from their medication. Others may have a history of addiction, and with drugs like fentanyl becoming much more readily available, the number of overdoses has been rising.

Even though the medical community is working to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid use and addiction, our loved ones are still at risk, especially if they:

  • Have struggled with anxiety or depression
  • Engage in risk-taking behavior or live/work in stressful or high-risk environments
  • Have a family history of substance abuse

While there are psychological and environmental factors that all play a role in addiction, anyone who takes opioids is at risk of becoming addicted – no matter their age or background.

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Why Are Opioids Addictive and How Did the Opioid Epidemic Begin?

For most people, opioids stimulate the reward system in our brains and make us feel pleasure when we use them. When an addictive substance is taken long enough, a person can easily become physically dependent, and because opioids are designed to help ease pain, users can become reliant on them to avoid discomfort.

So if we know the potential danger of opioids, then why are people still using them? It might help to understand how opioid use got to where it is today.

The initial rise in opioid overdoses is most notably tied to the increase in opioid prescriptions for pain management in the 1990s. However, only in the last few years has the CDC published a guide for doctors about how they can safely provide treatment for chronic pain.

The second wave of the opioid crisis began in 2010 according to the CDC, “with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin.” Soon after this wave began, more synthetic opioids entered the market, and overdoses reached even higher numbers.

Additionally, the illicitly-manufactured fentanyl (IMF) market has put opioid users at even more risk as fentanyl can now be found in a number of other drugs, including heroin and cocaine. Because these substances are so easily accessible, it makes stopping an addiction a serious challenge.

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Offering Assistance During Opioid Detox Treatment

Most often, the primary barrier to quitting is fear of the withdrawal symptoms from their drug of choice. People have to orchestrate daily routines, work schedules, even vacations around their drug habit and avoid the symptoms of withdrawal. Many of our patients at the Coleman Institute are simply tired of being “tied down” to using a substance, whether they’ve been prescribed the drug or otherwise.

It’s no secret that withdrawal from opioids is far from easy. While there are many types of opioid detox treatment options, it’s important that patients understand which one will work best for them. The Coleman Method is designed specifically to be a faster and more comfortable detox experience, based on Dr. Coleman’s experience both as a physician and as a person in recovery himself for over 30 years.

As a family member or friend, you can act as a support system during the withdrawal management process by lending a helping hand in researching treatment approaches, helping to find the facility that will best meet their needs and offer them the best chance at lasting recovery, as well as volunteering to assist with their needs during the detox process and beyond.

In addition to wanting a fast, easy detox, most patients want their recovery process to be safe and free of judgment. At the Coleman Institute, we understand how much courage it takes to seek help and make the change, and we encourage all family and friends to be equally as empathic and do the same.

Supporting Your Loved One on Their Road to Recovery

The biggest problem with opioids is how well they work to numb any pain that your loved one might be going through, whether it’s physical or mental.

One of the best ways to support a friend or loved one struggling with their addiction is to listen to them as a form of support. Providing emotional support while a person deal with their discomfort during withdrawal (and beyond) can be a helpful solution (or even a nice distraction), as opposed to wanting to escape any feelings by using.

Post-detox, keeping good communication with your loved one can help them establish better methods for handling stress, loneliness, or boredom. Our emotions can teach us a great deal, and often provide feedback that something needs to change.

Additionally, encouraging them to engage in activities or hobbies can be a great way to help with the ongoing recovery process. Attending group meetings is a great place to start and allows them to form connections with other people who understand what they are going through, which can make a huge difference in their recovery.

How to Help End the Opioid Epidemic

From medical professionals to mental health providers to the communities we live in, we can each help to address the opioid epidemic in some way: either by staying educated about the crisis or directly supporting someone in our life who is coping with the effects of drug dependency.

As more of us become aware of the epidemic in our country, we must continue with the efforts being made to limit the number of overdoses. Physicians are prescribing fewer opiates, and there are community groups and programs being organized to inform people and promote long-term recovery.

The Coleman Institute is a part of this movement and is committed to supporting people who need help recovering from their addiction. With clinics in 13 major U.S. cities and our accelerated opioid detox program using the Coleman Method, our patients and their families benefit from the convenience and safety that we offer.

Want to learn more about how the Coleman Institute can help your loved one through their recovery journey? Learn more about our treatment programs, or ask for help by calling us at 877-773-3869 or a scheduling a callback from one of our team members.

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