Does a Loved One Have a Painkiller Addiction?

No one wants to become addicted. Most people who develop an addiction to prescription drugs and painkillers start out simply dealing with pain. Maybe they had surgery, migraines or have a chronic condition. Whatever the cause, pain medication helps. Over time however, it takes more and more medication to ease the pain and not all the pain is necessarily physical. What do you do when a loved one has a painkiller addiction?

Whether it's narcotic pain medication, anti-anxiety medication, or some other form of addiction, the first step in understanding your loved one's problem is by doing some research.

  • The American Pain Foundation is an excellent resource for patients and families to learn about what causes and treats pain.
  • The National Institute for Drug Addiction provides valuable information specifically about prescription drug abuse and resources for families and patients with painkiller addiction.

The next step is the hardest part.Talk with your loved one but avoid an angry confrontation. Choose a time when both you and your loved one can engage in a serious, compassionate discussion. Then, tell it like it is.  Share your concerns about how their painkiller addiction affects you and your family.  Reassure them you will help them get help. Don't try to do it yourself though. Painkiller addiction is a medical and psychological problem best left to professionals.  The next step is theirs., a non-profit resource for mental health information recommends these guidelines for dealing with a loved one with any kind of addiction:

If you suspect that a friend or family member has a drug problem, here are a few things you can do:

  • Speak up. Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support. The earlier addiction is treated, the better. Don't wait for your loved one to hit bottom! Be prepared for excuses and denial with specific examples of behavior that has you worried.
  • Take care of yourself. Don't get so caught up in someone else's drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support. And stay safe. Don't put yourself in dangerous situations.
  • Don't cover for the drug user. Don't make excuses or try to hide the problem. It's natural to want to help a loved one in need, but protecting them from the negative consequences of their choices may keep them from getting the help they need.
  • Avoid self-blame. You can support a person with a substance abuse problem and encourage treatment, but you can't force an addict to change. You can't control your loved one's decisions. Let the person accept responsibility for his or her actions, an essential step along the way to recovery for drug addiction. 


American Pain Foundation: -

National Institute of Drug Addiction -