• Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Why Loved Ones of Opioid Addicts Should Join a Support Group | The well-being

In a nondescript local government office meeting room in southern Maryland, Paige, a 26-year-old recovering heroin addict, sat down at a table with 11 parents and two sisters of opioid junkies and told them bluntly the self-destructive behavior of their loved ones. were not their fault.

“My parents couldn’t have done anything different to save me,” Paige said, her voice cracking. His eyes shone, his voice trembled. Someone pushed a box of tissues at her. Paige dabbed at her eyes and continued, “There was nothing they could have done to stop me from being a drug addict. They love me and love me very much. I just wanted to get high, and anyone who got in my way was collateral damage. I started at 12 with weed and alcohol. I could give you a million reasons why; they’d all be bs” (Note: Paige has requested that her full name not be released to protect her privacy.)

Paige, the guest speaker at a meeting of a support group for loved ones of opioid addicts, concluded, and others at the meeting quickly talked about the panoply of horrors that their drugged children or siblings subjected them. A 73-year-old woman has described how officers crashed into her home three times while investigating her drug-addicted son – who is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence – for illegal drug activity. During the latest raid, a SWAT officer snatched his infant granddaughter from her crib. A teenage girl has spoken in a hesitant voice about how her drug-addicted older brother stole money she was saving to donate to a heart charity. Some parents have spoken of their fear that their child will overdose.

The raw emotion that ricocheted through the room was typical of monthly get-togethers held by parents affected by substance abuse. “The goal of our group is to allow parents and other loved ones to cry and hug each other, and above all, not to be judged as a bad parent or a bad family member,” explains Amy, the woman who organized PABA in 2013 and asked that her full name not be published because her husband holds a sensitive government position.

The opioid epidemic raging across the country has prompted loved ones of addicts — parents, grandparents, siblings and others — to form support groups like PABA. These groups are not the same as Nar-Anon or Al-Anon, long-established support programs for loved ones of drug addicts and alcoholics, respectively. These groups recommend a spiritual approach based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and hold meetings that usually last between one hour and 90 minutes. PABA says nothing about the 12 steps. Its March meeting was supposed to last 90 minutes, but it broke off after nearly two hours. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings are “great, but they’re very structured,” says Amy. “A lot of us parents and grandparents need more than five minutes to share.”

The different groups are similar in that they all provide a place where loved ones of people with addictions can come together and share their fears, frustrations and glimmers of hope, which helps them realize that their problems are not are not unique. “It’s amazing how lonely we can feel when we don’t know others are dealing with the same thing,” says Deni Carise, clinical director of Recovery Centers of America, which owns recovery centers. drug rehabilitation in three northeastern states.

More and more families are grappling with the opioid epidemic. In 2015, drug overdoses caused by opioids – including heroin, which is illegal, as well as prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl – were the main cause of accidental death in the United States, according to the American Society. of addiction medicine. There have been 20,101 fatal overdoses linked to prescription painkillers and 12,990 to heroin, according to ASAM. On March 1, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on the state’s opioid addiction crisis and committed an additional $50 million over the next five years to prevention, drug enforcement and treatment.

For loved ones of an addict, there is no cost to joining a support group, which can strengthen their mental outlook as they deal with an array of heavy emotions. Joining such a group, whether it’s Nar-Anon or Al-Anon or a group formed in recent years in response to the opioid epidemic, is usually helpful, experts say. Here’s how they recommend doing it:

1. Let go of shame. Many family members of drug addicts feel stigmatized and do not talk about their loved one’s illness to strangers or even to each other. “It’s a shameful disease, and it shouldn’t be, because it’s as deadly as cancer,” says Sharon Olszewski, 65, who started a support group in suburban Maryland. People who cling to a sense of stigma can cut themselves off from group support, say several PABA members. Olszewski started a group after someone from Caron Treatment Centers, which offers several residential treatment programs in the east of the country, asked him in December 2014 to talk to other relatives of drug addicts about his role in the recovery of her son. Olszewski’s son, Tony, has undergone two treatments at a facility in Caron and now works there as a counsellor’s aide.

2. Check with national and local authorities and rehabilitation centers. Officials at your state and local health or human services departments may be aware of support groups, Carise says. Rehabilitation centers in your area can also make referrals. Some local law enforcement agencies can also help you find one. For example, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office typically hosts a third PABA meeting. You can also go online to find support groups.

3. Try different groups. “If you don’t like a support group the first time, go back and keep trying,” Carise says. “If the first one isn’t what you want, try another one. Meetings tend to have their own personality, just like people.

4. Engage yourself. “People can get the most out of a support group by participating honestly, as much as possible, and by attending regularly,” says Anita Gadhia-Smith, a psychotherapist who practices in the District of Columbia and suburban Maryland. “Talking in the group, connecting with other members before and after the meeting, and offering to be of service within the group are ways to improve the connection and get the most out of it. Regular attendance is especially important to build relationships with other group members, which takes time.

5. Don’t give up. “Where there is life, there is hope,” says Cris Prillaman, spokesperson for the New Destiny Treatment Center in Clinton, Ohio. “Don’t allow people, but keep reaching out. You don’t have to reach out with a check, but with love, concern and compassion. You can’t predict when someone who’s been on drugs for years will decide they’ve had enough.

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