How Do I Approach Someone With an Opioid Addiction?

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With millions of people in the United States experiencing opioid addiction, most Americans know someone who has this disease. If you believe someone you know has opioid use disorder, you might consider approaching them about it. Reaching out to someone with an opioid addiction can feel difficult even for people who have professional training, but starting this conversation could save the person’s life. The information in this guide can serve as a starting point for learning how to help someone with an opioid addiction.

How to Tell If a Person Has an Opioid Addiction

Opioid use disorder does not always come with clear signs. However, you might notice changes in a friend or loved one’s behavior that don’t seem typical of them. They could also make an offhand comment that gives you concern.

A person may have an opioid addiction if they:

  • Regularly take an opioid in a way not intended by their doctor
  • Show major changes in mood, including frequent mood swings
  • Stock a “backup” supply of opioids
  • Take opioids even when they don’t feel pain

Subtle signs of opioid use disorder include social withdrawal, frequent sleep problems and a loss of interest in activities and hobbies.

Talking to Someone With Opioid Use Disorder

If you want to talk to someone you know about opioid addiction, remember that a non-judgmental and careful approach often works best. Try focusing on the following three aspects:

  • “I” statements: Framing your discussion around the addiction’s effects on you will help you avoid language that could feel accusatory.
  • Your friend or loved one’s health: Focusing on your concern about the person’s health will let you express your worries without making the person think you’re angry.
  • The addiction’s impact: Centering the conversation on the disease’s effects will separate the person from the addiction, providing perspective.

Combining these three strategies may give you a better chance of receiving a positive reaction than using one on its own.

Should I Try an Opioid Intervention Method?

You might consider conducting an “intervention” if your friend or loved one refuses to cooperate. Motivation from friends or family can make a difference. However, interventions like the ones seen on television have no supporting evidence for their effectiveness. Confronting someone in this way could actually discourage them from seeking help. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests giving the person incentives to see a professional instead.

How to Help Someone Addicted to Opioids

A trained professional can help your loved one or friend start on the path to recovery. If the person cooperates, you can look through treatment options with them and reassure them in this time of transition. In the situation that they refuse to get help, you can try showing them programs. Asking them to bring a possible addiction up to their doctor could also make a difference.

Learn More About Helping People With Opioid Addictions

For more ideas on helping a friend or loved one with opioid use disorder, you can contact us at BAART Programs. Our team will give you more information about our programs and help you schedule an appointment.

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