The Role of the Family in Prescription Drug Treatment

Nearly 2 million Americans from all walks of life are currently dependent on prescription drugs. The stereotypic image of a drug addict as a young adult shooting up heroin or snorting cocaine has been replaced by the new face of addiction. Today’s drug addict may be someone who holds down a job and has family responsibilities. In many cases, family members are painfully aware that their loved one’s use of prescription drugs has spiraled into addiction but they don’t know how to help.
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The Chicago Tribune recently published an article that includes guidelines for those who have discovered that a spouse or other family member is abusing prescription drugs. Although each family and each case of addiction is unique, experts have defined a general road map for treatment and recovery that includes the following steps.

• Take action. The addict may not be motivated to seek treatment, so family members should take responsibility for researching treatment options. For many families, intervention can

• Find appropriate help. Treatment for prescription drug addiction is similar to alcohol and drug treatment, but there are some important differences. Withdrawal is often a concern when undergoing prescription drug treatment. Find an appropriate treatment program that provides medical support for withdrawal symptoms and addresses the special needs of recovering prescription drug addicts.

• Avoid self-blame. While you can encourage a family member with a prescription drug problem to seek help, you can’t force them to recover. Let the addict accept responsibility for his or her addiction and recovery. If you didn’t participate in the drug abuse, don’t blame yourself for the situation.

• Set boundaries and take care of yourself. Prescription drug addiction is such a serious problem that it may cause family members to ignore their own needs. Each member of the family needs to focus on self-care and set boundaries while helping the addict. Look for treatment program that provides family counseling or seek counseling on your own if you feel overwhelmed.

• Protect yourself and your family. Addiction may fuel a cycle of abuse. If the addicted family member is abusive, is draining the family finances or is putting family members at risk, seek protection. There’s only so much you can do to help and keeping the family safe needs to be a priority.

As long as a prescription drug addict is not a threat, it’s possible to help them recover. Talk to your loved one about your concerns and offer your help and support. Avoid being judgmental and above all, stay hopeful. With professional advice and treatment, many people do recover from prescription drug addiction.

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