Family FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions for Family Members

Opioid addiction affects not just the person who is dependent but also all their family members. Addiction can harm family relationships and cause upset for family members who witness their loved one suffering. Here, we’ve gathered together the questions we hear most from patients’ family members at AppleGate Recovery.

How Can I Recognize Opioid Addiction?

In the early stages of addiction, it can be hard to tell whether someone is addicted. Changes in behavior tend to be the most visible signs. A person who is addicted to opioids may behave very differently than they typically would and may also have new friends or interests. They may say or do things that are not normal for them.

Is My Family Member Addicted to Opioids?

If you suspect that a family member is affected by opioid addiction, you may notice that they:

  • Use prescribed pain medication for a long time, even after an injury should have healed
  • Change doctors often
  • Experience mood or behavioral changes
  • Have trouble holding down a job
  • Lose interest in regular activities
  • Take opioids in ways not prescribed by a doctor
  • Spend time with new people
  • Experience relationship problems
  • Make poor decisions
  • Lose or borrow medications
  • Have different sleep patterns
  • Experience financial problems

In some cases, there may be very few signs. You may simply have a “hunch” or sense that something is wrong.

How Do I Talk to My Family Member About Their Addiction?

Talking with someone who is addicted can be very challenging. If they’re not ready to seek treatment, they may get defensive or deny that there’s problem. In other cases, they may get angry when confronted about their behavior.

To speak with a family member, you may wish to get a few people together. Some families feel more comfortable having this sort of talk with a counselor in place. When you’re talking about the addiction, start with the facts. Discuss what each of you has observed and how it has impacted you. Discuss what you would like to see, whether that’s a treatment program or another option.

Be prepared for resistance, and do not be afraid to raise the idea again and again. In some cases, multiple discussions need to happen before a loved one is ready to get help.

Psychologist having session with her patient

How Will My Family Member’s Addiction Impact Me?

Unfortunately, a loved one’s struggle can impact the whole family. It’s not unusual for family members to worry about their loved one’s behavior, especially if children are involved. Family members may disagree about how to handle the situation too, which can lead to tension. In some cases, an addiction can lead to financial distress. In others, it can mean that individuals distance themselves from the person working through addiction.

What Can I Do to Help?

Family and friends play a crucial role in recovery. Talking to a loved one and encouraging them to seek treatment can help. You can encourage them to call AppleGate Recovery or find a treatment option. Once they’re in recovery, remember that offering support and unconditional love can help them abstain long-term.