Written by LISSETTE HARWOOD | FORMER CONTENT DIRECTOR AT DISTRICT CONFIDENTIAL
My family learned over the holidays that my brother might have a drug dependency problem. We don’t know for a fact, but everyone suspects that he’s abusing prescription painkillers. He wasn’t acting normally the whole week, which led to some theories.
Then, one of my older sisters claimed to have seen him consume at least a dozen pills in only two days. When she went discreetly looking for them in his belongings, she discovered bottles of Percocet, Vicodin, and Demerol. Everyone was shocked, but nobody knows exactly what to do.
To be clear, he suffered an accidental lower-back injury last summer, but his full recovery was only expected to last a few months with extensive physical therapy. My parents think we should all confront him about it, but I’m nervous about the whole thing. What do families usually do in these situations?
Substance abuse and dependency is a widespread public health problem. In one study, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that 23.5 million people required treatment for illicit drug use or alcohol abuse. That means there’s a significant amount of families all struggling with the same unfortunate situation. Opioid (i.e., prescription painkillers) abuse and addiction are further estimated to impact at least 2.1 million Americans and possibly 36 million people, globally.
The consequences for addicts are progressively erosive at best and frequently fatal at worst. One of the first things to do as a family is to reflect on his long-term behavior in light of signs commonly associated with painkiller abuse. You already have the physical evidence, but that won’t be enough, since he has an ostensibly valid reason to be relying on prescription drugs. Pay especially close attention to certain changes in his personality. Itemizing these things should come in handy when you decide to confront him.
Another important step is understanding exactly what you can and cannot do when it comes to helping a loved one overcome addiction. There are some very real limitations that your family will have to accept before embarking on the journey together. Investigate the suggestions offered by others in a comparable situation and remember to stay optimistic, suggest these Orange County drug rehabilitation counselors. It’s vital that you frame the conversation using compassion instead of condemnation. In other words, avoid victim blaming at all costs.
The initial objective of the discussion should be to help him diagnose his own problem. It’s possible he’s in denial or has managed to convince himself that what he’s doing is perfectly acceptable. Either way, he’ll have to first acknowledge the problem before he can take steps to resolve it. Anticipate some degree of resistance from him and don’t be surprised if he becomes immediately defensive.
In a best-case scenario, your family can persuade him to explore group or individualized rehabilitation. For instance, he might explore long term recovery from drug abuse at a facility akin to Beachway Therapy Center. The options are endless. What’s most important is that he elect to join a rehab program without feeling externally obligated. The decision is his and his alone. Recovery depends on personal empowerment.
“Every great tragedy forms a fertile soil in which a great recovery can take root and blossom…but only if you plant the seeds.” — Steve Maraboll
Lissette Harwood is a Former Content Director at District Confidential