Painkiller addiction is never a one-size-fits-all situation, and it rarely ever starts intentionally. After all, the majority of initial painkiller exposures start with legitimate prescriptions from doctors. That’s why most people are unassuming at first to the signs of addiction. But when a loved one’s habits, actions, and demeanor change and become unexplainable, it’s time to start a dialogue about what’s really going on.
If you feel someone you love may be addicted to painkillers, take the first step toward recovery and start talking about addiction to painkillers. Use these five tips to have a productive conversation and help your loved one realize they can turn their life around.
1. Organize your thoughts and remove judgement.
The outcome of the conversation you want to have with your loved one will depend on your preparation and approach. Before you ask your loved one to sit down and talk, step into the right frame of mind by:
- Educating yourself. Learn as much as you can about how and why painkiller addiction starts.
- Hearing from other addicts. Read stories about and testimonials from real people who are or were painkiller addicts to glean a different perspective and understanding of the disease.
- Connecting with recovery experts. Contact an addiction center and disclose what you’re hoping to accomplish with your loved one. See if they have advice or tips to help you achieve a favorable outcome to your conversation.
- Formulating a plan. You know your loved one extremely well. What excuses, rational, or arguments will they bring up or counter with? Plan some responses so you’re prepared for any twist or turn to the conversation.
- Releasing judgement and anger. For your conversation to end on a high note, you want your loved one to feel supported and understood, not threatened and ostracized. When you’re on the outside of addiction, hurt, anger, and resentment can creep in. Throughout your research and preparation, allow yourself to let go of judgement and negative feelings so you can focus on healing and helping your loved one.
2. Find a time when communication will be well-received.
When you have your conversation is just as important as preparing for your conversation. Good communication needs its own time, and it’s best to avoid moments when you or your loved one are stressed or tired, or your loved one is under the influence. It’s also beneficial to find a time that does not require a hard stop, so the discussion can last as long as needed.
3. Choose a safe, distraction-free place to talk.
When you feel ready and your loved one is sober, ask your loved one if you can speak with them in a comfortable and distraction-free room in your home. The initial atmosphere will set the stage for the rest of the conversation, and being in a familiar, quiet space should help your loved one feel safe.
Most of the time, a one-on-one conversation is more advantageous than an intervention, as discussing something as serious and sensitive as addition can be very overwhelming and intimidating in front of a lot of people.
4. Begin slow. Express your support. Above all, listen.
Begin the dialogue with composure, confidence, and empathy. Talk slow and express your love and concern right away. When you come from a place of compassion, your loved one may receive the conversation more positively.
Let your loved one know that you’ve noticed some inconsistent behavior and ask them if they’re open to hearing your thoughts. As you navigate the conversation, try to steer clear of language that blames and raising your voice in anger. If you think it will help, highlight specific times your loved one’s behavior, when under the influence, negatively affected you and your family.
Once you’ve opened the dialogue, let your loved one talk without interruption or judgement. Giving your loved one the floor and actively listening will help your loved one feel heard, understood, and supported. You’ll also get their first-hand account of their addiction journey. Catching all the details is critical, as this information will help you understand and support them from here on out.
5. Suggest a next step.
If the conversation is going well, ask your loved one if they would be willing to receive professional help. The conversation can take a turn here, and that’s OK. Your loved one may need time alone to digest the conversation and the possibility of seeking recovery help. If your loved one gets defensive upon your suggestion, respectfully let it go for now. If you feel immediate action needs to be made, confide in close family and friends and discuss if an intervention is necessary.
Addiction can hit hard and quick. It can also be a gradual process. Whichever path your loved one is experiencing, one thing is certain: the time to talk, to act, to seek the best recovery support is now.
If you suspect your loved one may be abusing painkillers, Ranch Creek Recovery can help. Learn more about our prescription drug treatment or contact us today to see how we can help your loved one take back control of their life and recover from painkiller addiction.