Last Monday morning I learned that my nephew had died from an apparent drug overdose. He had graduated with honors from college two months earlier and was preparing for his professional boards this week. Needless to say, my family is devastated. Unfortunately, he is not the first young person that my family has seen taken from us by drug use in the last year. Upon returning from Ben’s burial this weekend I felt compelled to do something. Given that this practice is about wellness and prevention, I thought I’d start here.
First, if you think you know someone with a problem, assume the worst and take action. The price of underreacting is enormous while over reacting is minimal. The drugs that are being abused are readily available and very addictive on their own. Unfortunately now the lethal risks of these drugs are even more exaggerated as these drugs are being laced with extremely potent drugs. These drugs can kill in seconds.
If someone you love or care about starts acting more withdrawn, sleeping more, less engaged, canceling appointments or acting in unusual ways; It is not your imagination. If you notice pills disappearing from your medicine cabinet; it is happening. If cash is missing from your wallet or you don’t remember withdrawing that amount from your account, someone is taking it. If your child is constantly needing money; it is going somewhere. If your child is spending all of his time alone in his room, be suspicious. He or she may not like you if you search his room but you won’t like finding him dead in his room.
Remember that these drugs are very addictive and illegal and your loved one needs to lie to get the drugs and stay under the radar and carry on with life. They are still good people, this is out of their control and you have to be the parent (friend, relative, employer). They need help and are unable to do it themselves.
There is no half way solution. You can’t ground them, reason with them or punish the addiction away. No amount of pleading, reasoning or mediation will fix the problem. The intervention has to be significant and with experts. It isn’t easy, but being without them is harder.
If you have bottles of unused opioids or benzodiazepines in your home either flush them away or contact a large pharmacy chain or DHEC and get rid of them. Be vigilant and observant and take action.
I have first hand knowledge of how difficult action can be. Four years ago we made that difficult decision and intervened with my son in a decisive and powerful way. It was not without tears and fear but my son stood beside me at Ben’s gravesite. A survivor, not a victim.
– Dr. Mickey Barber