If your loved one is suffering from an OUD, you may want to help them, but don’t know where to start.
In this section, we’ll provide you with the information you need to feel confident and to be a positive support to your loved one. If you and your family are struggling with your loved one’s addiction, there are options for you, too. Free Opioid Education and Family Support Groups are being held across the state of Connecticut for family members of loved ones who are misusing opioids. To find a group near you, take a look at these free opioid family information and support groups.
Addiction is an illness that not only affects the person misusing substances, but also the people who have relationships with that person. You may be wondering how to approach this situation and these tips are to help guide you. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of helping a loved one who is struggling with OUD:
There are some things you can do to support you and your loved one.
- Educate yourself: The more you understand, the better you can provide the love and support you need to help your loved one during this tough time.
- Set boundaries and stick to them: Make sure you’re putting yourself first, and then you can help your loved one. You’re of no help to them if you’re not taking care of yourself.
- Provide support: The most important thing you can do is provide support to your loved one. Let them know you love them and you care as often as possible, without going over your boundaries.
There are some things you should not do or say to loved ones who are misusing substances. These include:
- Criticize: For example, try to avoid negative comments about the person’s choices, behaviors, or character.
- Enable:Try not to protect them from the consequences of their actions (e.g. giving money, providing transportation to dangerous areas).
- Demonize:You may believe that your loved one is completely accountable for their addiction. This may make your loved one feel hopeless rather than supported.
- Expect results right away: Understanding is the key to helping your loved one. Don’t do anything that you’ll regret later. Be there for them and support them – it’s the positivity that will help them, not the negativity.
Developing a plan allows you to have some control over your life even when it feels like everything is spiraling out of control. If you learn of a loved one’s drug misuse and want to help, perhaps the best thing to do first is develop a family plan. Your family plan should include:
- Information – Fully understand what your loved one is going through by arming yourself with information. This will allow you to help them fight their disease while being empathetic to their situation.
- Insurance – Understand your loved one’s plan and what is covered in case of a health emergency or a decision to seek treatment. More information on insurance (link to that section)
- Treatment options – Each individual struggling with addiction finds the path that works best for them. Sometimes, the steps to get to that path can be difficult. Be prepared to support your family member by knowing what the treatment options are. Talk to professionals to learn how to speak with your family member about their options, should they become ready for treatment.
- Get an overdose kit – In response to the opioid-related fatal overdoses in CT, Connecticut enacted a law which allows trained pharmacists to prescribe and dispense naloxone, a life-saving drug used in the event of an opioid overdose. You can find a list of pharmacists trained to prescribe naloxone on the Department of Consumer Protection’s website. In addition, the Department of Public Health is sponsoring a pilot program that distributes naloxone and provides opioid overdose prevention education to trusted family members, friends, and staff of human services programs. If you’re interested in participating in the program, please contact Mark Jenkins by calling 860-250-4146 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the program, visit http://www.ghhrc.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/GHHRC/. (Note: Narcan also available through 5 Regional Behavioral Health Action Councils)
- Get Support