Dave seems…different. He used to laugh easily, and he was always up for socializing. But lately, not so much. He seems moody and now he snaps at people over little things. And he’s less likely to accept invitations to get together. It’s like he’s withdrawing from me and everyone else. He’s also lost some weight. …
I Think My Friend is Addicted to Prescription Pain Medication
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Dave seems…different. He used to laugh easily, and he was always up for socializing. But lately, not so much. He seems moody and now he snaps at people over little things. And he’s less likely to accept invitations to get together. It’s like he’s withdrawing from me and everyone else. He’s also lost some weight. I’m not sure, but I think he’s hooked on prescription pain medication.
I started noticing changes in Dave not long after his knee injury, but that was nearly two years ago. He recently admitted that he’s still taking painkillers “just in case.” He said he’s afraid the pain might flare up again.
I want to help him, but I honestly don’t know how.
Prescription Pain Medication and Addiction
Do you have a Dave in your life? Maybe you’ve noticed signs of opioid addiction, but you’re not 100% sure what’s going on with your friend. You don’t want to sit on the sidelines while they ruin their life, but what are you supposed to do? How can you be the friend they need right now?
There’s only one place to start: talk to them.
It’s not a conversation anyone wants to have, but it needs to happen. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, it might be awkward. Yes, your friend may get mad. But avoiding or ignoring the issue will not help your friend.
The most loving thing to do is to face these challenges and talk to your friend about their possible addiction.
What Should You Say?
This might be one of the toughest conversations you ever have. It’s normal to wonder how in the world you’re supposed to bring up the topic or what you’re supposed to tell your friend.
Here are four ideas that can help your conversation:
- Take a loving approach: Always, always, always take a non-judgmental and caring approach. Yes, this is a confrontation of sorts, but don’t bring a confrontational tone to the conversation. The point isn’t to make your friend feel bad, but to help them. Make it clear that you are talking to them because you care about them.
- Use “I” statements: Try to keep the focus on how the addiction is affecting you and things you are noticing and feeling. (“I feel like we haven’t spent as much time together lately.” “I’ve been hurt lately by some of the things you’ve said.” “I’ve noticed these changes…”) When you use “I” instead of “you,” the conversation comes across as less accusatory.
- Focus on their health: Let your friend know you are concerned for their well-being. Express your worries about the effects the drug use is having on their health and life. You don’t want to come across as angry at them, just concerned about them.
- Talk about the impact: Center your talk around the effects of addiction rather than your friend’s actions. Help your friend see how addiction affects people and their loved ones. The point is to provide perspective. If they can gain a healthier perspective (without feeling judged or condemned) they are more likely to react better to your conversation.
Help Them Get Treatment for Opioid Addiction
After you bring up the topic, the next step is to point your friend in the right direction – toward help. Look through treatment options together. Ask them to bring up the potential addiction when speaking to their doctor. Help them find resources that provide the support they need.
It may also help to frame the situation as a time of transition (instead of simply calling it a change, or sobering up, or an intervention). Explain that you want to help them make a transition from dependency on prescription pain medication to making different life choices that are much healthier in the long run.
Support is available for your friend. If they are open to making changes (and remember, they have to want it), you can provide valuable resources to explore together.
- Outpatient treatment options will help your friend deal with an opioid addiction while remaining at home and work.
- Inpatient treatment is also available, and is often the most effective way for someone to conquer an addiction.
- Support groups are also key to helping your friend stay sober by providing ongoing encouragement and assistance.
And one more thing; let your friend know you’ll be there rooting for them every step of the way. Remind them they’re not alone. Believe it or not, having the encouragement of a solid support system can make all the difference in the world.
For information about treatment options for you or a loved one, call 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) today.
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