Helping families of addicts


The misuse of and addiction to opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids.

“I have dealt with addiction of one of my son's for 10 years, heavily 8 years, and have gone through the ups and the downs, the relapses, the multiple, you know, recoveries, multiple relapses, multiple rehabs and so I've lived it,” said Lilly, mother of three. “It was opiates and due to a surgery, multiple surgeries, and from there it went from prescription drugs. It went to heroin as well. Physicians have got to be aware that you cannot prescribe more than what is needed and they truly need to be aware of the addiction potential of these drugs are just astronomical."

Melissa Moore of the Drug Free Communities Program in Marathon County Wisconsin has helped Lilly.

“We met several years ago at one of our evening sessions just to raise awareness. It was probably in 2013 if not even earlier, and at that point it was early on in her son's recovery and I think that's when I talk to parents as one of those all-too-frequent stories of not knowing what to do, not knowing what's going to happen from day to day, and I think that struggle is real and it's something that's managed everyday,” Moore said.

“It's a constant state of chaos and grieving and fear. Fear of you don't know what to expect,” Lilly said. “A lot of families feel that it's something that lacks in your upbringing and it's not it's not at all. You very slowly fall into this pit of addiction and it's really hard to find your way out."

“These are our family members, these are our spouses, these are our friends or neighbors. I think when it comes to addiction and recovery we need to focus on that,” Moore said. “Positive social support not only for individuals that are in recovery, but their families and their loved ones as well, because if we can build positive support - that feeling of being alone or hopelessness really does go away. So that's one of the most important things. When people contact me, I put them in contact with other families that have gone through a similar circumstance and as much as I can include that in part of the awareness I do, because it does in fact more than just the individual that's using and I think a lot of people forget that.”

“How do I take care of myself - I read a lot, I go to seminars I really feel that information is power and I think sharing a lot sharing with family with those you trust,” Lilly said.

“I think one of the things that I've noticed in our communities are the last three years as people are more willing to build a community support of recovery,” Moore said. “They're looking at things like sober living facilities, they are looking at things like transitional work sites, they're looking at things like recovery coaching which is really a peer-to-peer model. There's all these things we need to do because 21 days 20 days is not enough.”

“It is an illness and it has to be managed just as if it was you know diabetes or heart disease it must be managed and as long as you're aware that and you want you want sobriety you want freedom you want life it can be,” Lilly said.

According to the National Institute for Drug abuse, roughly 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Between 8-12% develop an opioid use disorder. An estimated 4-6% who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin. About 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.

If you need help here are resources for addicts:

For families: