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Families

Actions to take for those with an addicted loved one

By: Tom Bannard, recovery@vcu.edu, (804) 828-1663

A mentor of mine always says that one of the most powerful forces on earth is inertia. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while still, objects tend to stay still. As a family member, it is incredibly difficult to move yourself and your loved one towards recovery, and it is often unclear what the correct action is. I would suggest that starting to move is the most important action. These recommendations are stated in no particular order, but I hope will give you some ideas on ways that you can get the momentum going towards recovery.

1. Get Educated

Two books to start with:

Don’t like reading?  Take a course or watch videos:

Attend the Family Education Program

Read up on Recovery & Change

Stop Talking Dirty - The Language of Substance Use has changed.

2. Get Support

3.  Get Naloxone

Naloxone is a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. If your loved one is using opioids, getting yourself and your loved one access to this life-saving drug is essential. Free Trainings are available periodically, and the drug can be purchased from most pharmacies. The drug also goes by the trade name Narcan. The drug is covered by insurance with a physician's prescription; however, a prescription is not required to purchase. Often, there are GoodRx coupons available.

4.  Arm yourself with resources

Unfortunately, there are insufficient resources in our community to treat all the people who need treatment. Families who can educate themselves on the most effective resources have the greatest chance of getting their loved one into effective treatment. While this post will not include suggestions about individual facilities or providers, it is worth finding several people who have “no skin in the game” to get some recommendations from or find an interventionist whose job it is to know these resources. 

Get to know treatment and recovery resources – Resources to explore include:

Know what you can afford

Grill the Residential Facilities – You are spending a lot of money on treatment, ask questions.

Listen – A few things to look for:

5.  Buckle up for the long haul

Addiction is a chronic disease that must be managed - Your loved one will need to learn to manage the disease over the long term. The majority of people will not find recovery the first time they seek help. This does not mean that treatment was a failure.

Recovery is not binary – People tend to think of addiction in very black and white terms, not drinking/using=success, drinking/using=failure. This can be problematic as it leads to the oversimplification, “he can just not use, and he’ll be fine.”  Recovery is about a lifestyle change and happens slowly over a long period of time. Often people have a slip or a lapse during that time. Family member’s ability to respond compassionately, yet firmly during these lapses can make all the difference in recovery.

30 days of recovery is barely a start -  The vast majority of people need a number of recovery supports to be successful with long-term recovery. For many people, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous SMART Recovery, or Celebrate Recovery serves this purpose, but other supports can be critical to augmenting this support. Length of engagement is incredibly important in predicting recovery outcomes. This can include:

Look at crisis as an opportunity – With your loved one’s next crisis, look for opportunities to get them into treatment. Most people are ambivalent about change most of the time. Looking for windows of opportunity to engage people in positive change helps get people into treatment and start the road to recovery.

Recommended Resources for Families

Books

Movies

Websites

 

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