Opiate addiction and the epidemic of heroin overdoses across the United States have been front page news for the past few years. It seems that the issue continues to grow without any signs of slowing down. State governments have created bills to change the ways that addiction is handled to provide those with addictions more options and better treatment. New laws have been put into place to prevent abuse of prescription painkillers which are the gateway drugs to heroin. These new laws have also created stricter penalties for those involved in the distribution of illegal prescription painkillers and heroin.
All emphasis of this growing epidemic is placed on the addicts. Everyone continues to put them in the spotlight and do their best to help them with treatment. What tends to go overlooked is those who care of the addict. Significant others, family and friends of addicts go through their own problems dealing with the addict. When I speak to people who fall into this category I often tell them that they have it worse than the actual addict. The reason I say this is because the addict is the one in control of the situation. When I say that, I do not mean that the addict can stop at any time with the snap of a finger because addiction is much more complicated than that, but for the most part, the addict can make the decision to get help. They have the power to end the suffering that they feel and that their wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, children and friends feel.
Those affected by addiction always take a backseat to the addict. The addict is the center of attention and everyone puts all the care and emphasis on them because they are the one in need. But this is not entirely true. More time and effort needs to be placed on everyone else in the family as they too suffer and worry. They lose sleep and are stressed day after day. Imagine not knowing if the person you love more than anything in the world will make it through the day. That every time the phone rings your stomach drops because you are afraid that it may be a call about an overdose. When the addict takes off and is not seen for days and you have no idea where they are staying or if they are even alive can be extremely stressful and overwhelming.
Loved ones of addicts have it extremely hard. Most would give their lives for those affected by the addiction especially when it is their child. With all the new programs being created to help the addicted, more information, education and help needs to be provided for the family and friends of those affected by addiction as well. There are groups out there that help like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon which are support groups that are set up like AA and NA meetings but for those affected by addiction. If you are having a hard time dealing with the addiction of a loved one, I recommend researching the meetings in your area. Attending a meeting can provide you the information, comfort, and support you have been seeking.