How to Help a Family Member on Opiate Withdrawal

Dealing with an addiction is always hard, no matter how old you are, what sort of addition you’re struggling with, and how serious the situation really is. However, opiate abuse is probably the most serious addiction there is, and it’s a reason for everyone to try to change their lives as much as they can. Dealing with this addiction on your own is a challenge, and the chances are you won’t be able to accomplish anything until more people get involved. That’s why families organize interventions and step in, knowing that only their love and proper medical treatment can make a difference. Helping a family member recover from opiate abuse and withdrawal takes a lot of steps and needs to be done patiently, so if a member of your family is experimenting with opiates as well, here are a few ideas that might help you help them in the most effective and practical way.

Try to understand them

This is the biggest problem all addicts are facing – nobody understands them, and they’re surrounded by people who are treating them the way they shouldn’t be treated. Instead of accusing your family members of ruining their lives, telling them how wrong they are, giving them good examples, telling them that their situation isn’t so bad – because even the smallest addictions need to be dealt with straight away – and explaining to them the effects their behavior has had on you, you need to do one thing first: try to understand them.

All addictions are some sort of reactions to a certain aspect of one’s life – a response to trauma, a cry for help, an inability to deal with reality, or something else. In order to deal with an addiction, you need to understand it first and discover where it comes from. Talk to your loved ones, and try to go back in the past, before their addiction developed, and try to understand what triggered it. Once you do that, you’ll be able to understand the reasons for their opiate experiments and deal with their problem more adequately.

Talk to them

This sounds like the most ineffective idea in the world and something that can’t do your family members any good, but the fact is that talking to them might prove to be more helpful than you can imagine. Just be there for them, listen to what they have to say, try to understand the meaning behind their words, and see if you can find out something you didn’t know before. Keep in mind that every clue that might explain the reasons for their addiction is valuable, and could be pivotal when they start battling their problem.

When you start talking to your family member about their opiate abuse, try to be subtle, but firm. Don’t start asking questions and interrogating them right away, but talk about anything else – the weather, politics, sports, music, TV, and literature, at least until you see your loved one is ready to open up and talk about their addiction. Again, be compassionate and understanding, and don’t forget that this simple conversation could be helping them more than you can realize.

Pick the right time

Not all opiate abuses are the same, and not all people react to them in the same way, which is why you need to approach your family member’s situation very delicately and carefully. Picking the right time to do so is the key because missing a suitable window of opportunity could mean things will only get worse in the future and you won’t be able to do anything about it.

One of the situations you need to be particularly careful with is pregnancy – this is when lots of women develop an addiction to pain relievers due to the chronic pain they feel in their pregnancy. If you notice this is happening to your wife, girlfriend, partner, sister, daughter, aunt, or cousin, you need to react immediately and encourage them to take necessary opiate detox while pregnant as this will help them kick the habit and bring a healthy child into this world.

Don’t expect miracles right away

Developing a bad habit takes some time, and the same goes for opiate abuse – it can’t be done overnight, even though this is what most people believe, but it also can’t be stopped right away. So, don’t expect results from day one, but remain patient and be ready to stay committed to this process no matter how long it takes.

Battling with addiction usually takes several weeks or even months, depending on a number of factors, and you need to do whatever you can to make this process successful. There are lots of techniques you can use, from creating a support system to taking your family member to therapy, and you should try as many ideas as you can. You can never know what’s going to work and what will suit your loved ones the most, so be patient, don’t give up, and the results will surely come.


Dealing with opiate addiction and withdrawal is quite a challenge, especially if it’s someone you love and care for. However, ignoring the problem isn’t the way to go, and you need to find a way to approach your family member, talk to them, hear them out, and understand what led to their opiate addiction. In the end, that’s the only way to help them leave their habit behind, move on, and understand that their life is worth living.


Peter is a lifestyle writer living between Europe and Australia. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

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