losing a loved one

Support groups: loss

 

Moms and family speaking.

4:15

It’s the club that we all do not want to belong to.

You are not alone. Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States. Grief is a complex process that can bring a range of emotions and feelings. It can be very isolating when related to addiction.

To be clear, losing a loved one to addiction is a very unique form of loss. Reaching out for support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Society has come a long way in understanding addiction as the medical disorder that it is. Get the help and support you need. Take the time to heal and care for yourself, both physically and emotionally. 

I helped a loved one

"I've learned that addiction cares less who you are. Or what you drive. Or where you live. A substance use disorder can sneak up on anyone. We need to get over the idea that it's somehow a moral failing. Good people get entangled in its web. And breaking free of it isn't as simple as some people think."

I didn't understand addiction

On the surface, addiction seems simple to solve. We’ve all enjoyed things we've known weren't good for us – too much food, too much alcohol – indulging in our vices. So, like us, anyone drinking or doing drugs just needs to stop, right?

Unfortunately, addiction isn’t as easy as putting down that bag of chips. When someone becomes addicted to a substance, their brain's wiring changes. Their want becomes a physical need. The substance becomes the brain's ticket to survival. The penalty for not buying that ticket is a physical backlash that presents itself as extraordinary withdrawal sickness. While the person may intellectually understand they're hurting themselves (and others), the brain's  wiring does its best to ensure that they not stop.

 

Education is prevention.

 

> “Look for Warning Signs”

by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Figuring out if your child is using drugs or alcohol can be challenging.

> “Tough Talks: How to Talk to Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol”

by NBC News Learn

Deciding when and how to talk to kids about alcohol and drug use can be a big decision. 

 

>  More articles for parents.

 

Parents of kids under 18

How can I help my child who's under 18?

If you suspect your child may have a problem, you're not alone. Maybe you’ve noticed them doing odd things like staying out later than usual, losing interest in things they previously loved, being frequently absent from school or work.

 

Start the conversation with your child by asking questions and listening without being confrontational. Let them know you're not judging them and that you want to work through this together. Set boundaries, expectations and be prepared to monitor them consistently.

If you know there's a real problem, prepare yourself for possible overdose situations. Educate yourself on Narcan, a nasal spray form of Naloxone, an opiate blocker. In the state of Virginia, you can request Narcan directly from the pharmacy with no prescription and can take advantage of this free training which will help you identify what an overdose looks like.

 

If you suspect an overdose, Narcan is sprayed in the nose to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and can help save a life. Never be afraid to call 911.

How do I talk to my child about prevention?

The Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition (RAYSAC) has prepared a parent toolkit which includes conversation starters, signs of drug use, tips for prevention and much more.

Each child is different and the relationship you have with your child will ultimately warrant how you speak with them about alcohol and drug use. Being open and honest about the dangers of substance use and abuse is a good start. Being informative and educational about what such use and abuse means – and what can happen – is incredibly important when speaking with children.

My child’s doctor or dentist wants to prescribe an opiate pain reliever. What questions should I ask?

 

If your child is injured in a sport and requires any pain medication, please keep in mind that 75 percent of those with substance abuse disorder report that their first opioid was prescribed.  Many of these injuries and prescriptions occurred in their adolescent years. Be cognizant of opiate prescriptions in any case.

Some important questions to ask prior to your child’s doctor or dentist prescribing an opiate pain reliever include:

  • How long is the pain expected to last?

  • What is the drug you’re recommending and is it an opiate?

  • Why does my child need it?

  • Are there non-opiate alternatives to this drug?

  • How long does my child need to take this opiate?

  • Can my child take a lower dose and/or be prescribed a small quantity of this opiate?

  • What are the side effects of this opiate and are there ways to reduce them?

 

If there's a history of drug or alcohol addiction with your child or within your family, share that information with your child’s doctor or dentist. Let the doctor or dentist know of any medications your child is currently taking and ask about any potential interactions with opiate pain relievers.

parents of kids under 18

How do I talk to my child about prevention?

The Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition (RAYSAC) has prepared a parent toolkit which includes conversation starters, signs of drug use, tips for prevention and much more.

Each child is different and the relationship you have with your child will ultimately warrant how you speak with them about alcohol and drug use. Being open and honest about the dangers of substance use and abuse is a good start. Being informative and educational about what such use and abuse means – and what can happen – is incredibly important when speaking with children.

Advice to parents of middle & high school kids: Part 1

 

Dad speaking.

3:05

What pointers would you give? Watch for the signs.

Advice to parents of middle & high school kids: Part 2

 

Friends, family and moms speaking.

5:00

Advice to parents with addicted child.

 

Moms and dads speaking.

4:14

> “Look for Warning Signs”

by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Figuring out if your child is using drugs or alcohol can be challenging.

> “Tough Talks: How to Talk to Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol”

by NBC News Learn

Deciding when and how to talk to kids about alcohol and drug use can be a big decision. 

 

>  More articles for parents.

 

I think the big thing is access. That’s how a ton of people get addicted.

What are some of the hardest challenges?

My child’s doctor or dentist wants to prescribe an opiate pain reliever. What questions should I ask?

 

If your child is injured in a sport and requires any pain medication, please keep in mind that 75 percent of those with substance abuse disorder report that their first opioid was prescribed.  Many of these injuries and prescriptions occurred in their adolescent years. Be cognizant of opiate prescriptions in any case.

Some important questions to ask prior to your child’s doctor or dentist prescribing an opiate pain reliever include:

  • How long is the pain expected to last?

  • What is the drug you’re recommending and is it an opiate?

  • Why does my child need it?

  • Are there non-opiate alternatives to this drug?

  • How long does my child need to take this opiate?

  • Can my child take a lower dose and/or be prescribed a small quantity of this opiate?

  • What are the side effects of this opiate and are there ways to reduce them?

 

If there's a history of drug or alcohol addiction with your child or within your family, share that information with your child’s doctor or dentist. Let the doctor or dentist know of any medications your child is currently taking and ask about any potential interactions with opiate pain relievers.

What if I suspect my child is using?

If you suspect your child may have a problem, you're not alone. Maybe you’ve noticed them doing odd things like staying out later than usual, losing interest in things they previously loved, being frequently absent from school or work.

 

Start the conversation with your child by asking questions and listening without being confrontational. Let them know you're not judging them and that you want to work through this together. Set boundaries, expectations and be prepared to monitor them consistently.

If you know there's a real problem, prepare yourself for possible overdose situations. Educate yourself on Narcan, a nasal spray form of Naloxone, an opiate blocker. In the state of Virginia, you can request Narcan directly from the pharmacy with no prescription and can take advantage of this free training which will help you identify what an overdose looks like.

 

If you suspect an overdose, Narcan is sprayed in the nose to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and can help save a life. Never be afraid to call 911.

 

helping someone over 18

Advice to friend headed for trouble.

 

Friends and family speaking.

2:20

Advice to a friend struggling.

 

Friends and family speaking.

2:20

What is your advice to an individual who is currently struggling with addiction?       

As a friend headed for trouble, what’s your advice?

Signs that your loved one using may be struggling with a substance use disorder may include withdrawing from people they care about, missing school or work, stealing or engaging in criminal activity, or physical signs including "track marks" from using needles.

 

Approach the situation with love, beginning the conversation with questions and not confrontations. Encourage them to be open.  Ask if they need help. Offer to  walk beside them through the process of finding the help they may need. Be careful not to inadvertently enable their continued drug use by providing the money and/or resources that allow them to obtain substances. Don't blame yourself.

Prepare yourself for possible overdose situations. Educate yourself on Narcan, a nasal spray form of Naloxone, and opiate blocker. In the state of Virginia, you can request Narcan directly from the pharmacy with no prescription.

 

Get some, take advantage of this free training from the Virginia Department of Health -- which will help you identify what an overdose looks like -- and keep the Narcan nearby. If you suspect an overdose at any time, spraying the Narcan into the person's nose reverses the effects of opioids on the brain and can help save their life.

 

Never be afraid to call 911.

 

my own shame and guilt

People bring this on themselves

 

Dad speaking.

2:06

How would you respond to someone who says people make a conscious decision to drink and use drugs? 

The best way to combat stigma and shame is by educating yourself about the causes of addiction. Move forward with knowledge and empathy.

 

A substance abuse disorder is not a moral failure, it’s a treatable brain disorder and there is hope. Most of all, do not allow guilt to keep you from seeking help.

 

If you feel alone and want to listen to and speak with others who are traveling this same or similar road, look for support groups specifically designed for the friends and family of those addicted.

 
 

hand-picked videos from around the web.

> "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong” | 14:42

Johann Hari | TED | 7/15

The opposite of addiction is connection.

Music Video:

EXPLICIT LYRICS

 
 

hand-picked articles from around the web.

> “Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use”

by NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Of those who began abusing opioids in the 2000s, 75 percent reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug.

> “Smoking Weed Increases Your Chances of Developing Psychosis, a New Study Finds”

by Esquire | 3/19

If it's extra potent, it could make you five times more likely to develop psychosis.

> “Tough Love Doesn't Work: A New Approach to Helping Addicts”

The Fix | 3/17

“The ‘tough love’ approach was common back in the day, but a lot of professionals have shifted towards a boundary-setting approach, as it combines firmness with self-care and support…”

 

 

MORE FOR PARENTS:

> “Operation Prevention: Parent Toolkit”

by Discovery Education / RAYSAC / DEA

One way to help you understand the impact of opioids is to understand the science behind how they influence your body.

> “Talking to teens | “Dr. Gilboa: Teens Can Do Hard Things””

by Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility | 1/15

The short answer: we can, and should, expect a great deal from teens.

“When Kids Ask (Really) Tough Questions: A Quick Guide”

NPR | 2/19

A new NPR series of parenting guides.

> “When You Discover Teen or Young Adult Drug Use: Set Limits & Monitor”

by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Teens and young adults want freedom. You don’t want to be a nag. But when you’ve discovered drug or alcohol use, all bets are off.

How Can I Keep My Younger Child Safe From My Older Child’s Substance Use?

by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Younger siblings can suffer when there is substance use in the family. It’s important to consider a plan for all children in the family.

> “For Teens, Opioid Abuse Begins At Home – Parental factors similar to other substance use”

MedPage Today |  2/19

Parental use of non-medical opioids was a strong predictor of opioid use by their adolescent children, researchers found.​

“Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?”

The New York Times Magazine | 10/17

Parents, therapists and schools are struggling to figure out whether helping anxious teenagers means protecting them or pushing them to face their fears.

“Adolescent Substance Abuse Facts’’

by US Dept. of Health & Human Services

National statistics on adolescent behaviors 

 

 

 

Addressing addiction in southwestern Virginia, developed as a model of localization.

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