Jul 15, 2019

Another Alarming Incident

I could use some advice concerning my sister, who lives in upstate New York. She had invasive surgery about 10 months ago and has been slowly recovering ever since. The doctor originally prescribed her Vicodin to help manage the pain and discomfort. My dad, who has previous experience with drug addiction, was very opposed.


My sister insisted that it would be fine, but then over the holidays, my parents pulled me aside and said that her behavior and mood had been off for at least a month. She denied the accusations and again insisted that we were worried about nothing. I might have believed her, but when I discreetly looked at the contents of her purse, I found multiple bottles of Percodan and Vicodin.


My dad said that she must’ve depleted the original prescription and somehow obtained more. He’s also convinced that she went to see a completely new doctor to get the Percodan. Every attempt to confront her fails, and we’re running out of ideas. Please help.


Substance abuse and addiction is no trivial matter. The medical consensus is that the growing phenomenon is, in fact, a disease afflicting the brain. That classification has completely changed how loved ones, local communities, and society at large interprets this destructive behavior. Unfortunately, that hasn’t seemed to mitigate the widespread opioid crisis that’s plaguing the American population.


Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that overdose fatalities related to opioids were 5 times higher than in 1999. Those statistics are indisputably tragic and the grand majority of those deaths are likely preventable. That’s why some political leaders are now referring to it as an opioid epidemic. Making things more worse is how freely many physicians are willing to prescribe these medications despite the overwhelming risk.


That controversy has some state Attorney Generals trying to sue pharmaceutical manufacturers for “trivializing the risks and overstating the benefits” of opioid-based drugs. Of course, even if successful, that only addresses one aspect of the wider issue–namely accessibility. More crucial is thwarting further overdoses by devising support systems to aid recovery and prevent relapse. Compassionate friends and family are essential to those efforts.


One of the first things to determine concerning your sister is whether or not she’s a drug abuser or a bona fide addict. Reflect on the signs commonly associated with the two and prepare to adapt your strategy accordingly. The next step is to establish boundaries and set realistic expectations. As you might expect, there’s only so much that your family can do to help. Understanding exactly what you cannot do is much more important.


When the time comes to once again confront your sister, you should have two primary objectives in mind: (1) try to help her diagnose herself and (2) convince her to seek professional help. Don’t expect either of them to be easily accomplished. She’s very likely to be as resistant as she historically has been. Your family ought to be mentally prepared for hostility and blatant denial.


It’s possible that a multitude of conversations will be necessary before you reach a favorable outcome. The road to recovery is a long and arduous one fraught with emotional and psychological dilemmas. Remember that despite the difficulties, anything you can do to avoid having your sister at the local Carthage, NY hospital.


“An over-indulgence of anything, even something as pure as water, can intoxicate.” — Criss Jami


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