A Path Forward for Addicts

Yellow Pills

I have a friend who has a serious substance abuse problem. I’ve read about the opiate epidemic, but I never thought that it would hit so close to home. This friend of mind is from my hometown, and in the time since we graduated high school he has changed dramatically. He used to be one of those kids that everyone thought had a really bright future, but now he’s having an incredibly tough time. I think he’s trying to get help, but I feel like I’m losing touch with him, and I have to get news about him through my other friends. What hope is there for someone addicted to opiates? For that matter, what even are opiates? And what can I do to help my friend?

When a friend or family member is an addict, it can be incredibly difficult to understand and to cope. The reality of addiction, as you may know, is that it is a disease. It is beyond the control of your friend at this point--he can’t stop craving the thing he’s addicted to--and recovery is tough and almost always requires the help and support of professionals.

Opiates are a class of drug that works on opioid receptors--a type of receptor in our brain that helps make us feel good. But when you mess with brain chemistry, it messes with you, and opioids make our brains think that we don’t need to produce as much of some things on our own--which, in turn, means that opioids quickly go from being a way to feel better to being the only way to feel good at all.

Opioids have real medical uses: you’d probably recognize the names of opiates like morphine, codeine and OxyContin. Other opioids include morphine, heroin, and (as the name suggests) opium. Opioids can be man-made or derived from nature--they all work more or less the same way.

The current opioid epidemic has been caused in part by the availability of prescription painkillers, which are sometimes opioids. Patients can get hooked (and teens can steal parents’ legal drugs), and that’s been a real problem.

But there’s hope for your friend. He can rely on the help of experts and head to rehab, say the physicians at SunState Wellness, a Suboxone clinic in Daytona Beach. While only he can make the decision to deal with his problem, his friends and family may be able to help by holding an intervention (something best done with the help of a professional).

If you’ve fallen out of contact with your friend, it may not be your place to make these sorts of decisions. But if you hear that he is trying to deal with his addiction, perhaps you might write to him and let him know that you’ve always valued his friendship and that you support him. Tell him you’re available if he needs to speak (and resist the urge to rehash what you’ve heard, lecture him, or pry for details). Good luck to him and to you!

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” -- Zig Ziglar

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