One of the very real difficulties many families face today is trying to overcome issues with substance use and addiction. With opioid overdose resulting in the deaths of over 33,000 people in 2015, a rate of death that has consistently risen in the past several years, the opioid crisis is a very relevant concern. This issue does not only impact those abusing drugs but drastically impacts their families and loved ones.
Watching someone struggle with substance abuse or dependence can be a devastating experience. When it comes to those we are closest to, it only amplifies the turmoil. It is so hard to know how to be there for someone who is struggling without doing something that could be counter-productive to making their life better.
So can you protect your loved ones in the opioid epidemic? Yes. But how?
What are the things that families members and friends need to focus on in order to keep their loved ones safe?
Understand Proper Pain Management
According to the CDC, approximately 20% of patients who visit their doctors for pain receive an opioid prescription.
Another article on Addictions.com talks about how opioid addictions often begin at home. Some people may still assume that drug addiction begins on the illicit market, but what we have seen more and more over the years is that the opioid epidemic has largely been fueled by prescription drugs.
Many people who struggle with opioid addiction began by using opioid-based painkillers due to a doctor’s prescription. These kinds of medication are not all that strange when dealing with pain management. Powerful prescription opioids are used for:
A lot of times these medications are prescribed for short-term use to try and reduce the risk of dependence after extended use. However, even with short-term prescriptions, these potent opioids can develop a physical dependence with uncomfortable or even painful withdrawal symptoms.
Overprescribing has also become an element in the opioid epidemic spreading through prescription drugs. Having an abundance of people prescribed to opioids also adds to the risk of more abuse.
By understanding these risks, people can better protect themselves and each other from developing a serious dependence. If you are aware of what can happen with opioids, even if legitimately prescribed, you can watch for signs and take action to prevent further risk.
Monitor Your Medicine Cabinet
According to a SAMHSA study from 2015, more than 50% of people addicted to painkillers receive the drugs from family members or friends.
Not only are those who receive opioids for medical reasons at some risk of accidentally developing a dependence, those who live with them can also be at risk of abusing opioids and becoming addicted. The overprescribing of opioids has also created stockpiles of opioids in thousands of homes all over the country. Left-over medications are also making a contribution to high rates of opioid misuse.
Some people who receive an opioid prescription may not actually use the entire prescription, but frequently they hold onto the excess supply of their medications. This is often innocent enough, as people will sometimes want to have something on-hand in case of unexpected pain down the road. Sometimes they might even offer these medications to others in an attempt to help manage a friend or loved one’s pain. However, even with the best intentions, this can be very dangerous.
Not only can giving someone a powerful opioid they are not prescribed be dangerous, simply having this kind of drug lying around is dangerous. Your medicine cabinet can be easily accessed by others within your household.
If you want to protect your loved ones in the opioid epidemic, make sure that you keep opioid medications under restricted access in your home. Do not play doctor and offer these kinds of drugs to your friends or family.
Also, make sure you properly dispose of any unused medications. You can take excess opioid drugs to a drug drop-off. Find nearby locations, which are often at pharmacies or law enforcement agencies.
Look for Signs of Dependence
Dependence and addiction are two terms that are relatively similar, but not exactly interchangeable.
Opioid dependence refers to how the body builds a tolerance to opioids over time. This process leads to the individual needing increasingly high doses of the drug to receive the same effect. Where addiction is more psychological, dependence is primarily a physical response.
Opioid users become physically dependent on the drugs when they require certain doses to feel and function “normally,” while also trying to avoid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. All of these effects can contribute to the development of a more serious addiction. Some physical signs to watch for include:
- Constricted pupils
- Reparatory depression
- Loss of consciousness/Nodding off
Withdrawal signs can also indicate dependence, including minor symptoms such as:
Understanding the signs or addiction, including withdrawal, can be a way to protect your loved ones in the opioid epidemic. If you can recognize the warning signs, you might be able to intervene before it is too late.
Seek Professional and Effective Help
Education is key to prevention, no matter what the situation or circumstances. Whatever the adversity, arming yourself with information makes you more effective. At the same time, seeking help from those with knowledge and experience with treating addiction is invaluable. Having a safe and effective resource that knows how to help your loved one overcome an opioid dependence or addiction can make all the difference.
It can be overwhelming, and none of us can protect everyone. However, you can be part of the support system that works to keep your family, friends and loved ones safe.
If your loved one is already struggling with opioids, the best thing you can do to protect them is to get them the help they need. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
I’ll never forget when I told my mother I needed to go to rehab. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, and what broke my heart was when she asked- “What have I done that my child has to live like this?”
This is not an uncommon question, so if you find yourself asking it please do not be ashamed. It is one of the most frequently asked questions from family members and close friends when a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol. A lot of people have a tendency to internalized the struggles that those they love most experience and wonder if they had some part in creating or adding to the issue. A lot of times mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, or even sons and daughters will see the suffering their loved one goes through and ask- is it my fault my loved one is addicted?
In a word- No.
The reality of addition is that any substance use disorder is more powerful than you or them, and likewise out of your control. As hard as that is to hear, it may be the most important thing to remember in the beginning. It can’t be your fault, because it was never up to you.
Substance Use Disorder
Substance use disorder is just that; a disorder. The root of this issue lies in the individuals thinking, which is why many in the medical world have defined it as a kind of mental health disorder that develops over time. No one can take all the blame for someone developing a disorder like addiction, no matter how hard it is to set aside that mindset.
Of course as we experience hardships we want to find someone to blame or pinpoint a logically explanation that makes sense to us, but the truth is it isn’t that black and white. Searching for a place to put all the fault is not effective or conducive to recovering.
Now some may examine the facts and read them one way, but it isn’t a fair assessment. We can even look at the idea of addiction coming from the perfect storm of nature and nurture.
The Perfect Storm
The ‘perfect storm’ comes from a unique combination of nature and nurture that create just the right atmosphere for an addiction to develop. So many people want to say it is because of generics, while others want to say it is because of the home, upbringing or life-style. The truth is, it is both, so it can’t be the fault of either.
Every human being on this planet is born with a genetic predisposition to addiction. Different DNA designs will promote different susceptibilities to addiction, and depending on the environment the individual is consistently in they may be exposed more or less. There is no precise formula for addiction that includes it being the families fault.
This is only further proven by the fact that substance use disorder impacts all walks of life:
- Rich or poor
- The homeless
- Successful people
- People with traumatic childhoods
- People with nurturing childhoods
- Men and women
- Young or old
- Any race
- Any religion
- Every culture
So even a parent who wants to blame themselves and say, “well it was my genes passed down and I raised them in this environment, so it must be my fault,” this is still not the case. All of this connects with how we turn to different coping skills. An addicted loved one makes a choice to rely on a substance as a coping skill, and the storm stirs to the point they have launched into a full-blown substance use disorder.
Guilt and Enabling
Many family members and friends will wonder if some action they took at some point pushed their loved on to use drugs. They will wonder if an event in the relationship had such a significant impact that they drove the addiction further. People are crippled by guilt when they think they had some hand in forcing their loved one’s decision, or maybe thinking they did not do enough. This guilt is incredibly counterproductive. It is not your fault because you cannot control how anyone decides to cope.
The sad part is that some addicts will notice their loved one’s guilt, and they will manipulate their family and friends using that guilt to get what they want. Your loved one may even try to justify their behaviors by blaming you, playing on your emotions to rationalize their harmful actions.
This is just one of many symptoms of enabling, but the reason most people give for supporting their loved one’s addiction and enabling their habits is that they feel responsible for the person. People enable addicts to avoid the guilt of ‘abandoning’ them. One of the biggest hurdles that family members and close friends must overcome is letting go and accepting that they have no control of their loved one’s choices.
We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
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Your Own Recovery
Recovery is not just for the individual, it is also for those closest to them. Learning the difference between how to give compassion, love and support vs enabling and minimizing is very important to the addicted loved ones recovery, and also to your own peace of mind. The recovery process for the family and friends means learning more about how it isn’t you fault a relative or companion is addicted. Learning more about the science of addiction and the causes of risk behavior can also take more weight off your shoulders and help you better understand your loved one.
Even if the individual is avoiding or refusing treatment, getting help for yourself may provide you with a better understanding of how to deal with issues that arise. And the better knowledge you have, the better a position you may be in to help.
Having a family member who has suffered can be harder on you than you know. Too many people don’t know how to get the help they need for their loved ones, and too many of our loved ones suffer for too long because they are afraid of the affects that the ones they care about most will face.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The rates of depression and anxiety among young people have spiked significantly, while the amount of play time children have has dwindled. Could there be a correlation? Several articles noted that lack of playtime could increase depression and anxiety risk in children. In the early stages of life, children thrive playing on their own, away from adult supervision. However, in recent years, high-pressure activities such as sports teams and dance lessons have replaced carefree playtime.
If we look back in history, rates of anxiety and depression were much lower among children than they are today. This is even during turbulent times like World War II, the Great Depression, and the Cold War. It seems that mental health challenges have little to do with realistic dangers and uncertainties in the larger world. Anxiety and depression are associated with a person’s sense of control over their lives. In general, the more control we have over our lives, the less anxiety, and depression we experience.
While real progress has been made in the medical community to prevent and treat diseases, mental health remains a major problem among youth. The lack of free play could play a role. Free play is defined as the means in which children learn to solve their problems, take control of their lives, and develop their interests. Play is geared towards internal happiness rather than external achievements.
By depriving children of “play time,” they lose the ability to control their lives. They are shown to experience a diminished sense of joy, self-worth, and identification. Children, today spend less time in nature and more of their lives in school. More tests are given and pressure to succeed is generally higher than it has ever been. Outside of school, children spend less time playing aimlessly. Everything is done with a purpose. Children tend to spend their free time on activities where they are protected, judged, ranked, and judged by adults.
Recess has become a distant memory in many schools. However, many studies continue to affirm the benefits of play time for children.
“Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of children beginning in early childhood. It is a natural tool for children to develop resiliency as they learn to cooperate, overcome challenges, and negotiate with others,” stated in a clinical report from American Academy of Pediatrics.
It is important parents and educational institutes understand and value the lifelong benefits children gain from play. When it comes to addiction, learning to play at an early age is extremely valuable. It teaches important coping mechanisms and demonstrates how to have fun independently.
To further elaborate on the severity of the problem, a recent article exposed that a quarter of students in Britain get less than 30 minutes of time in nature a week. Even more surprising, three-quarters of UK children studied were found to spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. Clearly, this is not an issue only affecting the United States; it is a widespread problem. The buzzing of smartphones has overshadowed the chirping of birds. The pressure of tests has replaced the satisfaction of throwing a ball with friends.
As a society, there needs to be a push for awareness of the importance of playtime. With mental illness and addiction continuing to be major concerns in our community, there needs to be an emphasis on promoting the well-being of our youth. The time is now to re-think the way we approach childhood education. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
A new report states that more than 10,000 American toddlers ages 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which leads many experts to question if giving toddlers this kind of medication is safe. According to pediatric guidelines, ADHD medication like Ritalin and Adderall should not be given to children before the age of 4.
There has always been wide criticism of prescribing ADHD medication in young children. Typically, children in their earliest stages of life tend to be full of energy, very curious and adventurous. Diagnosing toddlers at such a young age is controversial due to the fact that it is hard to tell if the child’s behavior is an actual condition or just a part of growing up.
For now, we still do not know for sure if these medications provide any real benefit at such a young age. What we do know, however, is that medications like ADHD can have serious side effects. They interfere with sleep and suppress appetite. Because toddlers typically need large amounts of sleep for proper development, giving medication that promotes an irregular sleep schedule can be incredibly problematic.
The report also discovered that toddlers who were covered by Medicaid insurance were especially prone to be put on medication like Ritalin and Adderall. They were also the most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD below the age of 4. The data was presented at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, and several outside experts strongly criticized the use of ADHD medication in children that young.
Even more concerning, the Academy of Pediatric does not even address the diagnosis of ADHD in children under 3 years old, let alone even mention the use of stimulant medications for children this young. The safety and effectiveness of these drugs have barely been explored in that age group.
“It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” said Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center. “People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”
This is not the first time ADHD diagnoses for children this young were criticized. Last year, a nationwide C.D.C. survey found that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 have received a diagnosis of this disorder and one and five will get one during childhood.
The most commonly prescribed medications are Ritalin or Amphetamines. While these drugs may calm a child’s hyperactivity and impulsivity, it also carries the risk of growth suppression, insomnia and hallucinations.
Furthermore, very few scientific studies have examined the use of stimulant medications in young children. One study conducted in 2006 found that ADHD medications could reduce hyperactive symptoms in children however that study only studied about a dozen 3-year-olds and no 2-year-old. Also, the research was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, had significant financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that made ADHD medications.
Still, many doctors stated that they understood using stimulant medication in toddlers under rare circumstances. There are often cases in which nothing would calm a toddler down who was harm to himself or others. as stated by Keith Conners, a psychologist and professor at Duke University.
While there are some extreme cases that stimulants may be beneficial for, Dr. Doris Greenberg, a behavioral pediatrician in Savannah, Ga., who also attended the presentation, is certain that there should not be 10,000 such cases in the United States per year.
“Some of these kids are having really legitimate problems,” Dr. Greenberg said. “But you also have overwhelmed parents who can’t cope and the doctor prescribes as a knee-jerk reaction. You have children with depression or anxiety who can present the same way, and these medications can just make those problems worse.”
In the presentation, many doctors suggested that children could be suffering from anxiety symptoms that are not being addressed in the right manner. Rather, parents are going to their doctors out of desperation to find some sort of solution. While, ADHD medication may be useful in some cases, more often than not, other options should be explored?
What do you think? Is it safe to prescribe drugs like this to children at such an early age? Ultimately, it is up to the parent of these children to make that personal decision. With all the media focus on prescription drugs, it would be advisable to take caution and become informed when making decisions involving taking drugs like this for long periods of time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
In Fayetteville, North Carolina, there is a distinct trend of both child abuse and neglect rising along with cases of drug addiction. Fayette County Prosecutor Larry Harrah says the number of neglect cases associated with addicted parents has been hard to ignore.
Just this year, the prosecutor’s office has removed a record-breaking 135 children from homes in Fayette Country. This is five more than last year. Unfortunately, with a remaining two months left in 2015, Harrah expects that number to rise to close to 150.
“As drug addiction increases, we see more parents getting high and their children are left to raise themselves in conditions and environments that are unspeakable,” he said. “There are a lot of animals who live a much better life than a lot of our children.”
Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Mauzy is all too familiar with the rise in child neglect. He has worked with most of the abuse and neglect petitions in Fayetteville and he says he has seen the number of children removed from homes steadily increase since he joined the office in 2011.
Drugs are one of the biggest factors in his cases, but often not the only factor. Most are “companion cases” where a domestic violence or student truancy case reveals underlying drug problems and neglect.
“It seems the cases get worse and worse (and) have a worse affect on the kids. They are not clean, they don’t have food, they are suffering from abuse, or there is domestic violence in the home.”
There are tests for drugs and home checks for cleanliness but Mauzy says it is hard to know if a person is going to snap and become violent again. It is an extremely difficult problem to fix. Even as the number of children being removed from homes increases, there still is a number of kids law enforcement does not know about, said Harrah.
“How many are out there right now and we don’t know their situation?” he asked.
Child Neglect Due to Substance Abuse
Often, individuals turn to drug use because they are escaping something they are unwilling to address and resolve in their past. Drugs provide a temporary escape so they feel some sort of relief. An individual may choose to do drugs once a week or once every few weeks and eventually they may find they are coming up with more reasons to use drugs more frequently.
An individual who is drug dependent is usually driven by one thing: getting and using more drugs. Drug addicts can neglect their relationships and responsibilities and give up on the very things they cared most to protect: their children.
Drugs can steal away and warp their thoughts and emotions. Often, addicts will choose drugs over their children. This results in many innocent children who are horribly neglected by substance abusing parents who are unable to care for them, better yet themselves.
Neglect is not just sad. It has horrible impacts on a child’s brain development. When children experience neglect, they often do not develop the Thinking/Feeling parts of the brain resulting resulting in an underdevelopment of the higher reasoning parts of the brain.
Even worse, a child who experiences both neglect and trauma can even suffer an over-development of the brainstem/midbrain functions which increases levels of anxiety and hyperactivity. They also experience an underdevelopment of the limbic cortical functions which affect problem solving skills. The effects of neglect and abuse on a child can last a lifetime if left untreated.
Do not put your child in a unhealthy situation because of your addiction. Get the help you need today to overcome your addiction. Not just for you, but for your family. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.