According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 948,000 Americans used heroin in 2016 alone, many of whom were people aged 18-25. Repeated heroin use changes the physiology of the brain, creating long-term problems that include both physical and psychological dependence on the drug. People who use heroin often have serious side effects or withdrawal symptoms, including rapid leg movements, vomiting, and serious muscle and bone pain. If you are a young heroin user, it is important that you be able to talk to your parents about heroin addiction.
Research Treatment Options First
Whether your family knows or suspects you have a problem, or you think they will be completely blindsided, it will help to go into your discussion with them armed with information. By researching treatment options in advance, you’ll get an idea of what may or may not work for you, how much treatment might cost, and where you can go. In addition, bringing information to the discussion shows you are serious about getting the help you need and getting your life back on track. Some of your options include medication-assisted treatment, inpatient therapy, outpatient therapy, leaving the state, or sticking close to home. Placing confidential calls to the places you’re interested in can also help you determine costs, whether insurance covers any treatment, and whether financial aid options are available.
Always Be Honest
When you’re asking somebody for help, it can be tempting to downplay your problem. This might be because you’re embarrassed or because you don’t want your family to worry about you. However, not being honest about the severity of your addiction does more harm than good. When you are honest from the start, you are setting up a solid foundation for your recovery. Honestly ensures your parents and other family members know exactly how much help you need and shows that you know you can’t do it alone. This is helpful, too, because your family can get you the type of help you need from the start. If you know you need an intensive inpatient program, claiming you’ll be fine in an outpatient program is only setting you up for failure.
Talk When the Time Is Right
Timing is everything when it comes to such a sensitive topic. It might feel like there is never a right time, but blurting it out in the middle of a busy day is probably not the best idea. Instead, ask your parents if you can schedule some individual time with them during a time when they feel the most relaxed. For some, this is dinner during the week. For others, it is best to wait until a Saturday afternoon or evening. Make sure they know it is important to prevent them from rescheduling, though. During this time, you can talk to them about the situation without the worry of interruption.
For some people, talking about such a volatile topic face to face can be quite difficult. If you’re afraid that you’ll freeze up in person, consider writing a letter to give to your parents. This way, you can get out everything you need them to hear before they stop to ask question or comment on the situation. If you’d like, you can give them the letter prior to talking face to face, giving them time to think about the situation and prepare to respond in a healthy manner.
Provide Some Recommended Reading
It may seem trite, but offering your parents a reading list can be quite helpful. From non-fiction, helpful books that teach them how to handle life with an addict, to fiction books that simply give them a glimpse into what it’s like to love an addict, a list of books on heroin addiction and treatment may help your loved ones learn more about your disease and how to continue to have a strong relationship with you during active addiction, in recovery, and after you’ve completed treatment.
There are several popular books about heroin addiction, but perhaps one of the most popular is The Big Book by William G. Wilson. This book is what the well-known 12 Step Program uses as a guide and is central to these treatment methods. Originally published in 1939 by the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the book provides success stories, methodologies, and much more. Other popular books include Cherry by Niko Walker and The Big Fix: Hope After Heroin by Tracey Helton Mitchell.
Take Responsibility During the Conversation
Whether out of guilt or embarrassment, it can be hard to take responsibility for your own addiction, even as you’re asking for help. Instead of placing blame on the things that caused you to seek out drugs (such as familial abuse, bullying at school, and so on), take responsibility for the fact that you chose drugs as your outlet. This shows that you are serious about your recovery. Recovery focuses on why you chose drugs, so once you are in treatment, you can focus on the “why” and bring up potential family issues with the help of licensed counselors and therapists.
Consider Alternative Solutions
Unfortunately, not every young adult who has a heroin addiction has a supportive set of parents who can help him or her get into treatment. In fact, 12% of young adults in the United States have a parent who is an addict or alcoholic themselves. If your parents are unsupportive or are struggling with their own addictions, the solution may be to seek out treatment help from someone else. Do you have a trusted grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even an older sibling? Maybe you have a boss, professor, or good friend who can help you through the treatment process. Even if you decide you need to seek treatment on your own, there are counselors available to help. Addicts often feel alone, but if you take the steps to seek treatment, you are rarely truly alone. Seek the help you need to live a healthier and more joyous life.