MAx Fabry is a regular contributor to a weekly column “ASK MAx” published in the SPRINGFIELD TIMES, Springfield, Oregon. The SPRINGFIELD TIMES is published weekly on Friday by S.J. Olson Publishing, Inc. This column is published on this blog by permission of the SPRINGFIELD TIMES. Visit their website at http://www.springfieldtimes.net.
My husband says that he has been in recovery from prescription drugs for almost two years. It is still really difficult for me to trust that he isn’t using, or planning on using. Whenever we go to visit family or friends I worry about whether he is going through their medicine cabinets. When he goes to see the doctor I worry that he is trying to get drugs. When he is on the computer I worry about him ordering drugs from online. Because of his addiction we almost lost everything that we have worked for, and I have seen little remorse from him that he is even aware how he has endangered the welfare of our family. I am getting exhausted watching and wondering about if he is using again. How can I be sure he isn’t using?
Thank you for bringing the growing problem of prescription drug abuse to the attention of my readers. As you have experienced, this addiction is insidious, negatively impacting the welfare of the family. Prescription drugs, particularly pain medications, have become the second most prevalent illegal drug problem. This unfortunate epidemic spreads across generations from teens to aging baby boomers.
Once an addict stops using and enters ‘recovery’, the family lets out a sigh of relief and immediately wants things to go back to ‘normal’. It is important for family members to be able to balance between denial and awareness. The denial is when loved ones want to pretend that the drug abuse never happened and “just put it behind us”. Drug abuse is a vicious cycle that can cause changes in the brain with the possibility of the addict developing stronger impulses to use. Family members need to educate themselves on the signs, symptoms, and effects of abusing prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse website offers this information. You know your husband as well as anyone so you can probably detect differences in his behavior and moods when you know what to look for.
Recovery for drug addiction is an ongoing process involving behavioral and, sometimes, pharmacological treatment. While there are medications available to help addicts overcome withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, people learn to function without abusing substances with behavioral treatments. Please keep in mind that many addicts in recovery may experience depressed moods for as long as a year or more.
It is important that you are taking care of yourself during your husband’s recovery. Focusing your attention and energy on whether or not your husband is using again, may distract you from what is important in your life. Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. Educating yourself with the information provided above, attending support groups to hear how other loved ones are dealing with the problem, and seeking both individual and couples counseling may help you better understand the problem of prescription addiction.
How can you be sure he isn’t using, Phyllis? Short of having him take a drug test whenever you suspect he is using, you may never be sure. Working on building a foundation of mutual trust and honesty may work better to return your family to your normal.
Have a question about addiction, recovery, or life transitions such as retirement, career change, grief and loss issues, empty nester, etc, ‘ASK MAx’. Send your questions to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440; or, e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about MAx Fabry at http://www.lifestylechangescounseling
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