​​​​​​Supporting Your Loved One and Yourself

Having a loved one who struggles with opioid use disorder (OUD) can be overwhelming and challenging, but you are not alone. As a friend or family member, your support and understanding can make a significant difference in your loved one's journey to recovery. 

Understanding Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid use disorder is a chronic condition characterized by the compulsive use of opioids despite negative consequences. It affects individuals from all walks of life and can have devastating effects on their health, relationships, and overall well-being. It's essential to understand that opioid addiction is a medical condition, not a moral failing, and your loved one needs support, not judgment.

One of the most powerful ways you can support a loved one with opioid use disorder is by educating yourself about the condition. Learn about the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction, the effects of opioids on the brain and body, and the available treatment options. Understanding the challenges your loved one is facing can help you provide more effective support and advocacy.​

 Deb's Story

Offer Compassion and Understanding

Living with opioid use disorder can be isolating and stigmatizing for individuals, and your compassion and understanding can make a world of difference. Listen to your loved one without judgment, validate their experiences, and offer empathy and support. Let them know that you are there for them and that you believe in their ability to recover.

Encourage Harm Reduction and Treatment

Encouraging your loved one to use harm reduction strategies and seek treatment​ for opioid use disorder is one of the most important 

Opioid Site Images (1).pngways you can support their recovery journey. Offer to help them research treatment options, accompany them to appointments, and provide emotional support throughout the process. Remember that recovery is a journey, and there may be ups and downs along the way.

Set Boundaries

While it's essential to offer support and encouragement, it's also crucial to set boundaries to protect yourself and your well-being. Establish clear boundaries around behaviors that are unacceptable or harmful, such as enabling or codependent behaviors. Let your loved one know that you are there to support them in their recovery, but you will not tolerate behaviors that put your safety or well-being at risk.

Seek Support for Yourself

Supporting a loved one with opioid use disorder can take a toll on your own mental and emotional health. It's essential to prioritize self-care and seek support for yourself when needed. Consider joining a support group for friends and family members of individuals with substance use disorders, or seeking counseling or therapy to process your own feelings and experiences.

Support Resources

A Dose of Truth

American Psychological Association: Resources for Families and Significant Others Affected by Opioid Addiction

GRASP: Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing

Rethink Recovery: Helping You Support Your Loved One​

SAMHSA: Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders​

SAMHSA: ​Supporting Infants, Toddlers and Families Impacted by Caregiver Mental Health Problems, Substance Abuse, and Trauma - A Community Action Guide