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How To Help A Friend
If you believe someone you know has opioid misuse disorder, you might consider approaching them about it. Reaching out to someone with opioid addiction can feel difficult even for people who have professional training, but starting this conversation could save the person’s life. For more ideas on helping a friend or loved one with opioid use disorder, you can contact us. Our team will give you more information about our programs and help you schedule an appointment.
How To Tell If My Friend Has An Opioid Addiction?
Opioid use disorder does not always come with clear signs. However, you might notice changes in a friend or loved one’s behavior that doesn’t seem typical of them. They could also make an offhand comment that gives you concern.
A person may have an opioid addiction if they:
- Regularly take an opioid in a way not intended by their doctor
- Show major changes in mood, including frequent mood swings
- Stock a “backup” supply of opioids
- Take opioids even when they don’t feel pain
Subtle signs of opioid use disorder include social withdrawal, frequent sleep problems, and a loss of interest in activities and hobbies.
How Do I Talk To My Friend?
- “I” statements: Framing your discussion around the addiction’s effects on you will help you avoid language that could feel accusatory.
- Your friend or loved one’s health: Focusing on your concern about the person’s health will let you express your worries without making the person think you’re angry.
- The addiction’s impact: Centering the conversation on the disease’s effects will separate the person from the addiction, providing perspective.
Combining these three strategies may give you a better chance of receiving a positive reaction than using one on its own.
Should I Stage An Intervention?
You might consider conducting an “intervention” if your friend or loved one refuses to cooperate. Motivation from friends or family can make a difference. However, interventions like the ones seen on television have no supporting evidence for their effectiveness. Confronting someone in this way could actually discourage them from seeking help. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests giving the person incentives to see a professional instead. You can contact us for help.
Can My Friend Really Be Helped?
Can My Friend Handle It On His Or Her Own?
Do Treatment Centers Force People To Stop Taking Drugs Immediately?
Treatment is always individualized based on the person’s needs. However, if someone is using a drug upon admission to a treatment program, one of the first things needed is to help safely remove the drugs from their system (often referred to as “detox”). This is important because drugs impair the mental abilities needed to engage with and stay in treatment.
When patients first stop using drugs, they can experience a variety of physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders; restlessness, and sleeplessness. Remind your loved one that treatment centers are very experienced in helping patients get through this process and keeping them safe during it. Depending on your loved one’s situation, there may also be medications to reduce these symptoms, which makes it easier to stop using.
How Do I Determine Which Problem Came First? Addiction & Depression.
What Should I Do If I'm Afraid My Friend Will Self-Harm?
How Can I Support My Friend If He Or She Goes Into Treatment?
There will be triggers everywhere that could promote a relapse—such as driving by places where the person once took drugs or seeing friends who provided those drugs. You can encourage your friend to avoid these triggers, and you can make an effort to help identify those triggers. However, people addicted to drugs have to fight much of this struggle on their own, without the help and advice of friends, using the knowledge and skills learned in treatment. Offer as much love and support you can as long as your loved one continues to follow the treatment plan. If the patient relapses, you should encourage additional treatment.
Do 12-Step Programs Or Other Support Groups Work?
Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in a self-help group during and after formal treatment. So long as they do not discourage participants from taking medications (which are a crucial part of treatment for opioid addiction and can be helpful in treating alcohol or nicotine addiction), these groups can be particularly helpful during recovery, as they are a source of ongoing communal support and encouragement to stay in recovery. Information on local meetings can be found on their websites. Support groups for family members of people with addictions, like Al-anon or Alateen, can also be helpful.
There are other groups in the private sector that can provide a lot of support. To find meetings in your area, contact local hospitals, treatment centers, or faith-based organizations. These organizations often coordinate support groups for substance use.
My Friend Is Considering Treatment, But Is Embarrassed. What Should I Say?
Become A Peer Support Mentor
Peer support workers are people who have been successful in the recovery process who help others experiencing similar situations. Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, peer support workers help people become and stay engaged in the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Peer support services can effectively extend the reach of treatment beyond the clinical setting into the everyday environment of those seeking a successful, sustained recovery process.
Peer workers and peer recovery support services have become increasingly central to people’s ability to live with or recover from mental and/or substance use disorders. Community-based organizations led by peer workers also play a growing role in helping people find recovery. Both mental health consumers and people in recovery from substance use disorders have recognized the need for core competencies, and both communities actively participated in developing these core competencies for peer support workers.