What education should be given to families of patients with opioid abuse?

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: David W Dixon, DO; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Contrary to the earlier beliefs, most substance abusers are closely tied to their families. In 1972, Levy provided evidence that at 5 years, patients who succeeded in overcoming narcotic abuse most often had family support. Educated family members are likely to provide positive influence without getting frustrated. The following issues must be addressed.

  • Inform the patient about the concept of enabling so that such behaviors may be identified and replaced with assertive but compassionate behaviors.

  • Inform the patient and the family of ways of healthy intrafamily conflict resolution.

  • Keep the expectations reasonable. Relapses may occur often, and it does not mean the patient has to start from zero again.

  • Understand that a patient who abuses opioids and is trying to start life without opioids may develop unacceptable and unfamiliar behaviors, which may be quite painful for family members who are expecting a nice premorbid personality.

  • Inform patients about the availability of family support groups such as spouse support groups.

  • Place emphasis on encouraging patients to attend NA.

For patient education resources, see the Mental Health Center. Also, see the patient education articles Barbiturate Abuse, Drug Dependence and Abuse, Narcotic Abuse, and Substance Abuse.

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