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How to help a loved one with an opioid addiction

addiction conversation Pain medication addiction, also known as opioid addiction, has become an epidemic — and 2016 has brought several overdose and addiction cases to the national stage. Opioids are highly addictive pain medications — for example, hydrocodone (an ingredient in Vicodin®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), morphine (Kadian®) and codeine. Many people take these medications as prescribed, but a growing number of people are abusing them.

The road to overcoming an opioid addiction can be long and difficult. Here are five ways you can take action to get help your loved one.

1. Start the conversation. Tell your loved one that you’re worried about their health and safety. Although they may not appreciate your concern initially, you may just save their life.

2. Show them you care. It’s important to acknowledge the pain your loved one is experiencing and offer them your support. Remind them that you’re not there to judge or scold, but to encourage them to get help.

3. Focus on solutions. They should know they are not alone, and that there are other ways to manage chronic pain and other factors fueling their addiction.

4. Connect with others. The problem of opioid addiction is so widespread that many people know someone who has been affected. Communicate with friends and family or join a support group to learn more about what worked for others.

5. Seek professional support. If further intervention is needed to get your loved one into treatment, speak to your family doctor and get a referral to an addiction specialist.