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Understanding a Loved One’s Opioid Addiction

When someone you love has an addiction, it can be hard to know how to confront them about seeking treatment. Before expressing your concerns, it’s important to attain a comprehensive understanding of opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction often develops from abusing a prescribed medication. This usually occurs after a user becomes tolerant to the effects of the drug. Here are some common symptoms of opioid addiction:

Opioid Addiction

Mood swings and behavioral changes are common signs of opioid addiction.

  • Forgetting to take care of responsibilities
  • Paranoia or secretiveness
  • Taking more opioids than prescribed
  • Lack of motivation for daily activities
  • Mood swings and behavioral changes
  • Defensiveness over drug use
  • Compulsive opioid use
  • Neglect of physical health and appearance.

There are particular influences that can impact whether or not someone becomes addicted to opioids. These include genetics, drug abuse history, family history of drug use, and whether or not the person ever experienced emotional or physical trauma.

Why Can’t They Just Stop?

Quitting opioids, once addicted, is no longer a matter of willpower. This is due to the alterations drug abuse causes in the brain. Certain substances in prescription drugs cause the user to experience a euphoric feeling, or high. Once they become tolerant to the opioid, they require larger and larger doses in order to achieve that same sensation.

Once the brain’s chemistry is altered from the drug, the user will need to use it in order to even feel normal. At this point, it’s imperative for the person to seek professional treatment. Attempting to manage the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids independently is not only challenging, but also quite hazardous.

It’s Not Your Fault

No matter who your loved one is, whether it’s your parent or your child, their addiction is not your fault. It’s easy to take the blame for someone else’s hardships, especially within very close relationships, but this won’t help anyone move forward.

In order for your loved one to truly recover, they first need to take responsibility for their addiction. And they will not do that if you’re blaming yourself. Holding on to negative feelings about yourself or your loved one will only hinder the recovery process, and make it more difficult to rebuild trust within the family. For more emotional support during this time, you can attend support groups created specifically for the family and friends of opioid addicts.

Treatment Options

Once you have a better understanding of your loved one’s opioid addiction, it’s time to select which treatment option is best for them. Here are the avenues you can choose from:


If you think your loved one will require some convincing, an intervention specialist     should be your first point of contact. An intervention is a meeting involving the closest family and friends of the addict, where each person gets to express how the addiction has impacted their lives. This will often inspire someone to attend treatment.


When an opioid addiction is severe, a medication assisted drug detox is often necessary. This will help to alleviate the inevitable symptoms of withdrawal and reduce opioid cravings. Taking part in a drug detox will greatly decrease the likelihood of your loved one relapsing.

Opioid Detox


Depending on the severity of the addiction, among other factors, you will have to choose between inpatient or outpatient care. Inpatient centers offer 24-hour medical care and attention, whereas outpatient facilities provide care for one to two hours per day. Whichever you choose, both options provide the medication treatment and mental health services necessary for your loved one to recover from their opioid addiction.


More often than not, drug abuse stems from untreated emotional problems. Taking part in mental health counseling will help your loved one learn how to cope with their feelings in a healthy manner. Most facilities utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for those recovering from opioid abuse.

Support Groups

Although your support, and that of the family, is exceptionally important to your loved one’s recovery, it’s beneficial for the person to attend support groups as well. The participants in these meetings will have similar experiences, and thus be able to relate to each other and provide useful advice. When a recovering opioid addict realizes they’re not alone, it brings a new sense of hope into their journey.

There are many resources at your disposal to assist in your loved one’s recovery, but the most important thing is to provide continuous support and understanding. If you want more advice on how to seek treatment for your loved one, please call 800-466-0354 ( Who Answers?).

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