Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA - 41

Familiarize yourself with these signs:
3 Bloodshot eyes
3 Changes in appetite or sleep
3 Sudden changes in weight
3 Deterioration of appearance
Tremors, slurred speech or
3
impaired coordination
3 Changes in work performance
3 Unexplained financial problems
3 Mood swings and irritability
Sudden change in interests
3
or friends
3 Unusual hyperactivity or lethargy

Start the
Conversation

If you think a loved one is misusing drugs
or alcohol, it's time to have a chat. Go in
with an open mind and a supportive spirit.
"That can be challenging, because it's
very natural for loved ones to be angry
or frustrated, making it easy to respond
with anger and demands," Saxon says.
"But you really need to try and broach
the topic in a loving, caring, nonconfrontational way."
Saxon recommends starting simply
by acknowledging a change in behavior and asking if everything is OK. Try
something like: "Hey, I've noticed you've
stopped playing racquetball with Dave,
and you just don't seem like yourself.
What's going on?"
If your loved one doesn't open up immediately, don't push. Revisit the conversation
another time. It may take several tries.

Go to
a Meeting

Attend a support group for families of
people dealing with drug and alcohol
addiction, whether in person or online.
Find one through Al-Anon (al-anon.org),
Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) or Families
Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org).

Stop Opioid
Overdose in
Its Tracks
Naloxone is a drug that can
reverse the effects of an overdose of heroin or other opioids
if administered in time. While it
used to be available to physicians
and first responders only, legislation in most states has made
naloxone available at pharmacies without a prescription. That
means you can just walk in and
ask for it.
Naloxone is nonaddictive and
has few side effects. It's available to the public in a prefilled
autoinjector pen or nasal spray.
You can learn how to administer
the drug by reading the enclosed
instructions or watching a
video online.
Call 911 if you suspect an opioid
overdose, and administer naloxone
if you have it on hand.
Signs of opioid overdose include:
* Unresponsiveness
* Pale, gray or clammy skin
* Bluing lips or fingernails
* Very slow, irregular breathing
* Slow heartbeat
* Tiny pupils

WEBSITE

Find a Treatment
Center Near You
If you or a loved one has a
problem with drugs or alcohol, help is available. To find
one of the 14,000 treatment
centers nationwide, visit
findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

"That would be one free and
readily available way to get advice
and to hear what other people have
done," Saxon says.

Talk to a
Professional

Saxon suggests making an appointment with a behavioral health provider, psychiatrist or psychologist to
discuss your loved one's behavior.
"They may say, 'Hey, that does
sound like an issue. Let's see if we
can get your family member to come
in [for a visit],' " he says.
If that doesn't work, at least
you'll have a professional to talk to
about the effect your loved one's
addiction is having on you.

Be Available, but
Protect Yourself

If repeated attempts fail to get
your loved one to admit there's a
problem, Saxon suggests focusing
on caring for yourself by seeking
support, distancing yourself if you
feel unsafe and never getting in the
car with someone who is under the
influence. Dealing with a loved one's
substance abuse is not only worrisome and stressful, but it also can
be dangerous. Some people become
aggressive and even violent when
under the influence.
"It might involve making
changes in the relationship, including temporary marital separation,"
Saxon says. But that doesn't mean
you can't still offer support.
"Continue with repeated
supportive messages," he says.
"Say, 'I love you, and I care about
you. If you're willing, I will assist
you in finding help.' " ■

WINTE R 2019

41


http://www.al-anon.org http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov http://www.nar-anon.org http://www.familiesanonymous.org

Vim & Vigor - Winter 2019 - UVA

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