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Action Plan for Families and Loved Ones

Loving someone with an addiction can be a scary, painful, and overwhelming experience. It can be hard to know what to do and where to start. Here are some steps you can take.

1. Get Educated

2. Get Support

3. Get naloxone

If your loved one’s problem involves opioids like heroin, consider getting naloxone (Narcan). Naloxone is a a drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

Free trainings are often available in the region and they may give free rescue kits. FAN meetings are a good place to learn about these events.

The drug can be purchased from many pharmacies. The drug is often covered by insurance with a physician’s prescription; however, a prescription is not required to purchase. Here is a list of pharmacies that do not require a prescription.

Often, there are GoodRx coupons available.

4. Arm yourself with resources

Unfortunately, treatment is not as accessible as it should be. Costs, waitlists, and inadequate treatment are very common problems. Families who can educate themselves on the most effective resources have the greatest chance of getting their loved one into effective treatment.

Whether you are considering treatment with Dawn Farm or elsewhere, it can be helpful to seek answers to questions, identify resources, and develop a plan before your loved one is willing to accept help. This way, you are all ready when they are willing to accept help.

5. Buckle up for the long haul

Addiction is a chronic disease that must be managed – Your loved one will need to learn to manage the disease over the long term. Relapse is not uncommon and don’t mean that treatment was a failure. The important thing is to catch them quickly and re-intervene immediately.

Recovery is not binary – People often think of addiction in black and white terms: not-drinking/using=success, drinking/using=failure. This leads to oversimplification and can cause us to overlook important warning signs that emerge before they use, or catastrophize a relapse as a complete loss of any progress ever made. Recovery is about a life-style change, and happens slowly over a long period of time. In the event of a relapse, family member’s ability to respond compassionately, yet firmly during these lapses can make all the difference in recovery.

Treatment (however long) is only a beginning –  Recovery management is a lifelong process. People with moderate to severe drug and alcohol problems need a number of recovery supports to be successful with long-term recovery. Mutual aid groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Refuge Recovery, or Celebrate Recovery provide long term support. Long-term involvement (home groups, social contact outside of meetings, sponsorship, etc.) in groups like these is an important predictor of recovery outcomes.

(Thanks to Tom Bannard for pulling together most of this information.)

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