Everyone’s experience of opioid dependence is different but there’s one thing that most people agree on: it’s easier to overcome with the help of family and friends. This section is for the family members, and close friends, who are looking for information on what they can do to help support a loved one on their journey.
For many people who are dependent on opioids, coming off is the hardest thing they’ll ever do. Not only that, they’re often trying to do it while feeling really low, both physically and mentally. Being with someone who’s going through this experience can be really challenging. The support you give them is vital for their recovery, along with their medical treatment and professional counseling sessions.
Remember, no one who develops an addiction sets out to become addicted, but the condition can be treated and managed, so that the person can begin to live a fuller and more productive life.
“I wish my family understood how hard recovery is. They didn’t understand what a difficult time period it was for me. I felt they were questioning me, ‘Why don’t you just stop? Can’t you just put the drugs down?’ People don’t understand, it doesn’t just work like that. It’s not something you have control over.”
“Be kind. Even if that person did something horrible to you or said something horrible to you. It’s not them, it’s the addiction. They don’t mean what they say and they don’t mean what they do. It’s just part of the addiction. It takes over you. I hurt some people in my life. I didn’t mean to hurt them. I was caught up in a time in my life that I didn’t understand. When my family turned away from me, I was devastated. How can I have all these people in my family but I don’t have anyone to call?
Be there for them. Never turn them away. It’s hard to trust people after they have done terrible things to you. But it does come back. The trust slowly comes back.”
While you are supporting someone you care about, it is likely that you have also suffered. In addition to worrying, you may have feelings of helplessnes, failure, guilt, shame, or lost trust.
Many treatment programs also offer counseling for the family and friends of people with opioid dependence. They can provide you with a place to show your own feelings. Support groups and online forums may allow you to share experiences with people in a similar situation. This website provides a resources page, and many of the organizations listed have specific programs for family and friends.