Watching someone you love struggle with opiate addiction can be a frustrating experience. You want to help as much as you can, but overall you may find yourself feeling powerless throughout their journey. And while you may feel like the war is over once your loved one decides to accept treatment for their addiction, the truth is that the battle has just begun. Opiate detox can be a massive undertaking, especially when it is someone’s first experience with addiction treatment. Before they can return to day-to-day life, they need to finish opiate detox – a process that can be both mentally and physically draining.
No one wants to watch a family member struggle with the trials of opiate detox, but detox is a pivotal moment in someone’s recovery. Now, more than ever, is the time to stand by their side as a pillar of support. However, before they begin their detox program, there are some things you should know:
Pop culture often portrays detox as a sort-of cure all process where someone goes through treatment and emerges without ever experiencing cravings for opiates again. It’s important that you understand this is not the case for the vast majority of recovering addicts. Opiate detox is the first step in an effort to cleanse the body of drugs and alcohol before the real change, in the form of therapies and other treatment methods, can begin.
In order to see real change in behavior and substance use, you need to tackle the underlying emotional and psychological triggers that lead someone to abuse opiates to begin with. If real changes are not made, if a recovering addict does not equip themselves with more effective coping skills, then they are likely going to slip back into their old behavior over time. Opiate detox is a powerful and effective tool, but it isn’t enough on its own, and it certainly is not a cure for opiate addiction.
Opiate withdrawals symptoms include a wide variety of uncomfortable physical and emotional side-effects. This includes: migraines, excessive sweating, changes in body temperature, nausea and more. In many cases, opiate users will continue to abuse the drug long after a “high” is felt, simply because they want to avoid the sickness associated with opiate withdrawal.
Do not attempt to detox from opiates at home. Opiate detox centers are equipped with the tools needed to take care of your loved one during their withdrawals. They can help mitigate symptoms of opiate withdrawal while maintaining an environment free of substances and the potential for relapse. Detoxing from opiates at home can put your family member at risk of medical issues and relapse. Sure, the comfort of home can be alluring, but in the end, the discomfort caused by opiate withdrawals will greatly outweigh any comfort that the familiar environment can offer.
If you want to help your loved one throughout their opiate detox, it is important that you keep an open and honest dialogue throughout. Talk to them about their recovery goals and try to understand what they are struggling with. The fact that you are taking the time to read this article already shows that you are on the right path. The next step is applying what you learn to the days-to-come.
Encourage your family member to take care of themselves throughout opiate detox. Addiction is an all-encompassing disease. It commonly causes opiate addicts to neglect their own physical and mental health. Make sure they are engaging in healthy eating habits, and drinking liquids regularly as well. This is especially important during opiate detox, as they will likely experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and fever. It’s easy to become dehydrated if you are not taking proper care of your body.
Make sure they are actively participating in the offered group therapies, individual therapies, and other behavioral programs. Some people are extremely uncomfortable with opening up and being vulnerable during these types of treatments, but actively participating and communicating with your therapist can have a massive impact on your family member’s long-term recovery plan after opiate detox. Encouraging them to keep their goals in mind can be the small push they need to start taking their recovery seriously.
Lastly, and most importantly, be there for them. Making your presence and support know can be extremely helpful. Opiate detox can, at times, feel like an isolated place, far away from home. Your support can be a driving force for your family member. It can be something that emboldens them to not only finish detoxing from opiates, but to continue their recovery plan long after treatment.