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Opioids in Alaska

Supporting Others

What can I do?

First, take care of yourself. The healthier you are, the more you can handle stress and support the people you love.

  • Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise daily. Doing these things will stabilize your energy levels and produce natural stress-relieving hormones.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol and drugs. They don’t relieve stress and often add to it.
  • Get time for yourself. Doing things like deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation can reduce stress and give you the space you need to think clearly.
  • Get the support you need. Remember, it’s not your fault and you’re not alone.
  • Decide how much physical, emotional and financial support you can provide to your loved one, and tell them in clear terms what you are and are not willing to do or put up with. Learn how to set healthy boundaries and practice doing it.

Talking to loved ones and friends

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has practical tips about how to talk about substance abuse with a friend or loved one, and good resources on dependency and addiction.

Learn about addiction, and the signs of addiction.

If a family member or friend you know has been prescribed opioids, or if they have had a surgery, injury or chronic pain where pain medication may have been prescribed, ask if they’re using opioids and find out their plan for stopping use. Learn about different treatment options and where to find help.

Familiarize yourself with the signs of over medication: slurred speech; stumbling while walking; dizziness or confusion; excessive drowsiness or difficulty staying alert; and difficulty waking from sleep. Know what an overdose looks like – slow, shallow breathing; extreme sleepiness; inability to talk, or unconsciousness; blue or grayish skin color; dark lips and fingernails; snoring or gurgling sounds – and know how to respond to an overdose.

If a close friend or family member is at risk of overdose, learn about naloxone, a drug that blocks or reverses the effects of heroin or opioid prescriptions. Make sure they know how to get tested for serious infections that can result from injection drug use.

Find support

Support groups for families and friends of people who are addicted: