Focus On Recovery – Spokane Regional Opioid Task Force
How to prevent my children from starting?
Significant adults in a child’s life are the most powerful influence on their health. Having a significant adult, whether it’s a parent, guardian, coach, teacher is increases a child’s resiliency to drug abuse. But it takes more than just bonding. Setting boundaries and clear expectations about not using drugs, and monitoring their behavior in a respectful way, helps to reinforce healthy behaviors. Talking to middle school and high school children about the facts about drugs empowers them to make healthy choices.
True Story: Hailey
“I’m honored to have been asked to share my experience as a family member of a loved one who struggled with opioid use disorder–my younger brother Marshall.”
How can I help without enabling?
There is no simple answer to this, as every family’s needs are unique. There are, yet, some basic guidelines that can help in determining the difference.
Enabling behavior can do more harm than good for yourself and your loved one. Here are a few to avoid:
Ignore unacceptable behaviors and/or excuse them as caused by the drug
Take care of your loved one’s daily responsibilities or financial obligations while they are using
Lie for a family member, make excuses, and generally hide the problem from others
Make open-ended threats and ultimatums
Make many appointments for evaluations and counseling services that are never kept
It is important for loved ones of the person struggling to learn how to redirect good intentions. Learning these skills will help guide a loved one towards positive, helpful behavior. Here are a few to practice:
Acknowledge the disorder causes out of character behavior and address it without judgement
Help with tasks within your reasonable scope while the individual is in treatment
Speak up when talking with professionals and support systems who can help
Set clear boundaries for your willingness to help and keep those boundaries
Keep a short list of who to contact if/when the individual agrees to treatment – find out who accepts walk-ins for evaluations
Supporting a Loved One with OUD
Dan Sigler, MBA, MSW
Spokane Regional Director, Pioneer Human Services
How to Handle a Relapse
A relapse does not mean that treatment failed or that the person is a failure. It just means that the person needs to readjust their treatment plan or try another form of treatment. Relapse rates for addiction are similar to rates for other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma. Going back to rehab should not be considered a failure, but rather an act of courage. The person realized the dangers of falling back into addiction and valued their life enough to make a positive change. Though it may seem difficult, the relapse can be seen as a learning opportunity that can strengthen recovery. The person needs to understand what triggered the relapse and develop a plan for preventing another one.
A person entering rehab after a relapse may have more guilt or shame because they may feel like they “messed up.” But they may also have less anxiety because they know more what to expect from treatment. They may even be more determined because they now understand that staying in recovery is hard work.
“My name is Marsha Valenzuela. My life began with trauma. By 11 I was using drugs and alcohol. By 40, my children were removed from my care and I became homeless. But after hard work and help, I got my children back. I am now 18 years sober.”
The financial, legal, and emotional issues of raising a relative’s child can be challenging. Services and support when raising a relative’s child can be a lifesaver. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has information about support services, available benefits, healthcare and legal issues. They are here to help.