9 Things You Should Know If Your Child is Using Heroin
Heroin – The sudden increase in the use of heroin and other opioids, leading to frightening discussions about overdose and addiction, has left many families confused about what they ought to do should they discover that one of their loved ones is a victim. It is always a trying moment for such families as they grapple with the best approaches to find lasting solutions to their loved ones without them feeling despised or disregarded in any way. If you should ever find that your child is using heroin, here is a simple guide to help you handle the situation in a sober and more mature manner-:
Do Not Blame Anyone
It is normal for people to experiment with substance. Throughout the years, people have been using substances in the United States and just a fraction of them ever became addicted. Though this could offer a little consolation to the parents whose children have been addicted, the important point to note is that it may not be easy to lay the blame for addiction any person.
Some parents usually tend to blame themselves or maybe lay the blame on other quarters such as a romantic partner or the child associating with the “wrong crowds”, but this is never productive in any way since it does nothing but increase pain and more hatred towards the party being blamed.
Other than trying to apportion blame on anyone, the objective of every parent should be to reduce the harm caused by the substance abuse either by seeking professional help for the loved ones or helping them change their lives in one way or the other.
Get a Naloxone Rescue Kit for Yourself and The Kid
Naloxone is a medication used to reverse overdoses of opioids. It can’t be misused in any way and it is currently legalized in 43 states. It is a prescription drug which can be issued as an overdose prevention organization and also over the counter in some of the states where it has been legalized.
If your child is using heroin or other opioids- even as prescription medication, you need to get a naloxone rescue kit and also keep one for yourself. By doing so, it won’t mean that you are supporting whatever they are doing, but you are just showing that you value their life, even though they may be doing something wrong.
Buprenorphine and Methadone are the most effective tools for opioids addiction
Following decades of clinical research and many consensus statements, it has been demonstrated that medication assisted treatment with buprenorphine or methadone is highly effective in treating opioids use disorders. Most parents, however, have fallen in the trap of trusting the first results that comes online, which might sometimes contain misinformation, and end up ignoring this option.
Medication-assisted Treatment, also known as MAT, greatly reduces risks, and improves the quality of life while at the same time has the highest retention rate for any kind of treatment. Most the negative sentiments echoed about MAT are nothing but myths with no clinical tests or evidences to support the claims.
There are resources and educational tools available to families with such children
The process of helping a child with SUD should not come at the expense of caring for yourself. There are quite a number of valuable resources, educational tools and support options which can be used while you prioritize self care at the same time.
The Drug Policy Alliance has valuable resources to equip parents with the skills to talk honestly and openly about drugs with their children even before they start experimenting with them. Tactics such as intervention can make the child get traumatized and feel isolated. Voluntary treatment on the other hand is more effective than coerced treatment. Programs like Community Reinforced Approach and Family Training have also proven to offer healthy and positive alternatives to addicted children.
Syringe exchange not only improves health, but also can be a gateway to other positive changes
Coming across a stash of your child’s syringes may be a difficult thing, but it will be even be worse should you decide to trash them in the dustbin. Instead, you can take this as an opportunity to talk with the child about transmission of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.
It won’t imply that you are encouraging the child to continue using the drug, but you are equipping with the tools which can help them protect their health in a better way.
Jail is never that safe
Most parents think that their children will be safe when they are locked up in jails. This is a highly misguided perception since life in the jail is far much tougher than living on the streets. In jails, there will be no medical care during withdrawal and this can lead to very severe health complications, including deaths in some cases. This is not to forget other ills that the child may be exposed to while serving in the jail. For instance, there are the perpetual risks of physical and sexual violence from other prisoners as well as the corrections officers. Also incarceration comes with lasting mental and emotional trauma which may not be useful for a child trying to recover from opioids addiction.
Understand the importance of the role of mental health
Almost 40% of people suffering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD) have also been diagnosed with mental health disorder. It is thus imperative for every parent to be aware that their children abusing opioids could potentially be suffering from a mental illness; hence it is imperative to factor in this as you consider the treatment options for the kid. If undetected, the mental disorder is likely to jeopardize the success of whatever treatment options preferred for the kid.
Traditional models of treatment come with significant risks
There is a dominant narrative that 12 step program and rehab are the best treatment options for those addicted to opioids. This narrative has crumbled in the recent years, and it is disheartening to find that some parents still believe and stick to it, even after being proven to not be the most effective. This has led to most of the parents sending their children in expensive rehab centers or investing heavily in the 12 step based programs which are cited to have higher success rates yet there are no actual data to support such claims.
Create the connection which will lead to healing
Perhaps the most important thing that a parent can do to their addicted kids is to create a connection which will lead to healing. According to Dr. Mate, one of the top physicians and harm reductionists, offering unconditional love to the addicted kids is important in healing the pains that might have led to the addiction. And with this, we are back to the basis of what causes substance addiction. A thousand and one reasons could be advanced, with the common ones being social isolation, unmanaged stress and trauma amongst others. Thus, if the parent can have a strong connection with the child and try to decipher what might have been the cause of the addiction, then this will be a strong positive step towards healing.