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How Can I Help My Loved One With Their Addiction?


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ISubstance abuse is a difficult situation to handle for both the person suffering from addiction as well as the loved ones looking for a way to help. In the United States, up to 23 million people are directly impacted by substance use. Of those 23 million, two million are affected by the abuse of pain prescription pills and 591,000 by heroin abuse.

What these numbers mean is the probability of knowing someone who is currently struggling with addiction to opioids, heroin, or other substances is fairly high. Because of this, it's important that you know what you can do to help your friend or loved one overcome their addiction.

Understand the problem and why it's happening
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addictions are chronic illnesses. As a result, you can't help to cure your friend or loved one's addiction with just love and support. They require medical intervention, especially if their addiction has begun to impact their lives on a larger scale.

How does addiction happen?
When someone uses substances such as opioids or heroin, the substance creates a euphoric sensation similar to that of the body's natural endorphins. While the euphoria of the substance may be a cause of addiction, it's ultimately the drug's artificial endorphins themselves that can have detrimental side effects.

When a person uses opioids for a long period of time (such as for pain medication), the body stops producing its own natural endorphins in order to maintain an internal chemical balance. Therefore, when the person stops using the substance, the body attempts an opiate detox. During this stage, the body is unable to produce endorphins as it had before, which can cause the person to experience flu-like symptoms and severe depression.

Because this period of withdrawal is so difficult to withstand the person may then return to using their opioids. Those suffering from heroin addiction typically moved onto the drug from prescription pain medication because opioids as pain medication are typically slow-releasing and are not meant to give patients a "high." Heroin is easier to obtain, less expensive, and works faster than opioids.

What medical intervention can help with addiction?
Methadone centers have been proven to help those suffering from addiction significantly. Methadone centers are run by medical professionals who use methadone to treat those looking for treatment for opioid addiction and heroin detox.

Methadone lasts in the body's system for 24 to 36 hours and helps to block a person's pain-receptors in the brain so the symptoms they experience during the withdrawal stage are muted and tolerable. Additionally, methadone blocks the euphoric feeling created by the substance the person is using so the drug loses its appeal.

If your friend or loved one is suffering from opiate addiction and is in need of heroin treatment or rehabilitation, talk to them about the potential of a methadone treatment program. Unlike abstinence-only programs, methadone centers can truly help those suffering from addiction take back their freedom.

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