Remember that knowledge is power. It is easy to dismiss warning signs if you aren’t looking for them. As with other diseases, there are physical symptoms you can see. Learn what to look for with narcotic use and dependence:
Be sensitive to warning signs. Look for behavior changes and/or extremes in your loved one’s behavior.
Be honest with yourself. When opioids are involved, neither denial nor hope is a workable strategy. Opioid fatalities are a threat to young and old, long time users or first time users, any race, and any ethnicity. Their first time can be their last time.
Don’t be deterred by stigma. There is no shame in getting help. Taking care of your loved one is far more important than what your friends or family might think. What’s more, a community of support is critical for both you and your loved one.
Join a support group. Not only is isolation bad for your well-being, you will learn what others wish they had done or known, and it will buttress you against enabling behavior. Consider joining a like-minded support group, a 12-Step program, a faith-based group, or connecting with a local family-based opioid focused organization. Parents, for instance, will learn from parents of kids who are further along in their drug use than your child may be. Don’t find yourself saying, “I wish I’d known….”
Know the arguments. We’ve had many conversations with other parents and families about their loved one’s early issues with alcohol and/or marijuana before they started trying opioids. This may not be the case for every person, but some experts believe excessive alcohol and/or marijuana use may prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs. While alcohol has long been widely available, the legalization of marijuana in some states and pro-marijuana marketing makes the combination more widespread than before. The one thing that experts do seem to agree on is that marijuana is much stronger now that it was in decades past. If you think there’s a problem with alcohol or marijuana, educate yourself with the right knowledge to counter your loved one’s arguments.