Are there any guidelines for how you should talk to someone with an oxycodone problem? As a matter of fact, there are. People who are abusing any substance will be more (or less) receptive to talking about their problem depending on where they are in their cycle of addiction. Because of this changing “landscape” of receptivity, it is critical to know how to approach the individual.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone (oxy) is a prescription painkiller classified as an opioid. Over-prescription of these drugs has resulted in the frequently-reported opioid epidemic. Opioids are partially, or fully synthetic drugs that act on the brain’s opioid receptors. These are located in the part of the brain that controls pain, reward, and addictive behavior.
Included in this family of drugs are OxyContin, OxyIR and OxyFast, Percodan, and Percocet. Though all are prescription drugs, users of these opioids run the risk of developing addiction even when used as prescribed. This is especially true for long term users. People who become addicted to oxy are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
What are the Effects and Symptoms of Oxy Addiction?
As the drug works, it releases dopamine, the chemicals that cause feelings of pleasures and satisfaction as part of your reward system. A person experiencing a burst of dopamine will enjoy the experience and tend to seek it again. However, the addictive nature comes from the fact that the brain adjusts the dopamine levels as it adjusts to the drug. This means the person needs more of the drug for the same dopamine effect.
People with an oxy addiction exhibit the same symptoms as with many other drugs and alcohol abuse. They will take extreme measures to obtain a supply. These actions can include lying, cheating, stealing, diverting money from other needs, and so forth. They will also continue to abuse the drug even when confronted with evidence of its harmful effects.
How Do You Know When the Time is Right to Talk to Someone with an Oxycodone Problem?
The best advice is never to talk to them about it while they are under the influence of the oxy. During these times, they are experiencing the positive side of their addiction from dopamine release. This makes them relatively immune to recognizing they have a problem.
The best time is to talk with the person while they are coming out of the influence and are feeling effects of withdrawal. That is useful in helping them recognize what the abuse is doing to them. Since timing this right can be difficult, next best is to talk to them when they are sober. This is the time when they will be the most clear-headed.
From the Addict’s Perspective
Many articles about how to talk to someone with an oxycodone problem deal solely with informing someone about how to approach the person with the problem. For that advice to be most effective, it helps to understand communication from the addict’s point of view. Addicts have their own perspective on talking about their addiction. We summarize several below from an excellent article on the topic.
- Addicts generally are confused and feel ashamed. This makes communicating hard.
- The effect of the substance can make it difficult to express emotions.
- Love alone will not cure addiction. It’s necessary and appreciated, but much more is required in terms of support and professional help.
- Addicts are not choosing their substance over friends and loved ones. The drugs have a significant impact on how the brain functions. Once it takes hold, it is incredibly difficult to ignore the craving for more of the substance.
- Deep inside, we want to quit. Unfortunately, the power of addiction can overwhelm this desire. This is especially true during withdrawal stages, another reason why professional help during detox is essential.
Bring a Friend
When you initiate the conversation, having another person with you can be helpful. This is particularly true if you or that person has recovered from an addiction of your own. It is critical to your potential for success to avoid being judgmental, getting angry, or yelling. It is vital for you to emphasize the following:
- You are mad, upset, and worried at the drug, not the person.
- You recognize the addiction is a disease rather than a character flaw.
- Make it clear that you will support them through their recovery, but that you will not support or condone the addiction.
What to Do If the Conversation Goes Nowhere
You need to be prepared for the possibility that when you talk to someone with an oxycodone problem, they may reject your efforts. The rejection can be due to any number of things. The person may not recognize a problem. This is very common when the addiction has not caused any problems for them. They may suspect your intentions; feel you are trying to control or manipulate them. They deny having a problem because they are ashamed or are too proud to admit it.
You also need to be prepared to try talking to the person multiple times. They may reject the offers of support at first. But, as their addiction progresses, they may realize the need for change. Ultimately though, you may need to take more extreme action, particularly in cases where the addiction threatens the health and well-being of the person or others. At that point, an intervention may be in order. We address interventions in another blog post.
Help is always Available
You don’t need to be alone when you talk to someone with an oxycodone problem. There are many excellent resources and services here at CarusRecovery to assist you and your support of the person all the way through recovery. Learn how we can help you with this labor of love. Contact us or call 877-225-7724 today to learn more.
This article is for informational purposes only and not to be substituted for professional medical advice regarding your situation.