Fentanyl Addiction Warning Signs: How to Know if Your Son or Daughter is Using, and How to Help
If you think that your adult child is struggling with fentanyl addiction, spotting the warning signs is the first part of the recovery process. After this, you need to focus on getting them to make the move into treatment. From here, both you and your child will benefit from a network of personal and professional supports and therapies that will help them turn treatment into recovery.
“It was like night and day,” says Cheri, whose adult son started using fentanyl when he was in his 20s. “Sometimes he would be fine, the same son that I raised for years. Other times he would seem groggy, out of it, and confused. I never took note of the straws I’d seen around his house until I connected his recent behavior to drug use. Once I connected the dots, all I could think about was how afraid I was of losing him.”
Spotting Fentanyl addiction warning signs in your child can be a difficult and scary experience. Your initial reaction might range from fury, to disbelief, to fear, to outright panic—but whatever you feel, it will likely be intense. After all, this is the child that you have raised and watched grow. To see your son or daughter fall into the struggle of drug addiction is heartbreaking. But after this initial response passes, you have the opportunity to enact change.
Helping your child into treatment isn’t going to be easy. You might need to enlist the help of an intervention specialist to determine the best way to connect with and communicate the necessity of treatment to your child. But residential programs are the most effective way of dealing with addiction to opioids, especially ones as addictive and powerful as fentanyl. As scary as it seems, it’s the right decision for your child and family as a whole.
Spotting the Warning Signs of Fentanyl Addiction
It can be surprisingly easy for warning signs to go unnoticed. When you’re a parent, you never want to believe that your child might have fallen into the clutches of addiction. You brush off the little red flags that pop up here and there, connecting each one to something, anything else because you don’t want to believe in the worst-case scenario. It’s only natural to want the best for your child, and to let your love cloud your judgment at times. But there are many ways to channel this love, and some are more effective for guiding them to treatment.
Common signs of fentanyl addiction to watch for include:
- Drowsiness and dizziness
- Poor coordination
- Lack of awareness
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty focusing or remembering
- Slowed breathing
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Changes in vision
- Anxiety or depression
- Dry mouth and sores or irritation in the mouth if using tablets or lozenges
- Swelling in the arms, hands, feet, and ankles.
- Unusual thoughts and dreams
If you notice a cluster of these signs in your child, there’s a good chance that they are struggling with fentanyl addiction. The important thing to do at this point is to accept what you’re feeling, whether it’s guilt, shame, or sadness, and focus on moving forward with the next steps. As difficult as things are now, there is always a road to recovery ahead.
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Making the Move Into Treatment
Just because you can’t convince your child right away to get treatment, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Guiding them toward recovery can be difficult, especially with the whirlwind of emotions that you’re probably feeling. But you can help your child, and there are some crucial steps that will make the process much more effective.
- Consult an interventionist. By joining your voice with an interventionist, you can receive the proper emotional preparation and education to guide your loved one to treatment in the most effective way possible. Addiction affects different people in different ways, causing them to act against their better judgment and even their own principles. Your child may, intentionally or unintentionally, seek to take advantage of your familial bond and try to convince you there’s not a problem, or to engage in supposedly “helpful” gestures that are, in truth, enabling behaviors. With an interventionist, you can guide your parental instinct in a way that helps your child understand the severity of their addiction and importance of getting help.
- Avoid encouraging shame. When you talk to your child about their problem, you need to avoid creating shame. Always use “I” statements, such as “I am worried” or “I feel helpless,” as opposed to focusing on them. Talk about specific incidents stemming from their addiction that have affected you. By doing this and not resorting to shame and blame, you can help them understand how their addiction has affected the people they love without pushing them away.
- Help them understand the dangers of withdrawal. This can be tough to do on your own, which is why an interventionist is ideal. While opiate withdrawal is painful, it can also be deadly without a proper medically supervised detox. Tapering dosage slowly and maintaining a proper diet is crucial to reduce the pain and danger of withdrawal symptoms. Doing this without professional help can be very difficult, and sends many people back to using. But many addicts don’t realize how much a proper detox can change the course of their recovery.
It might take a few tries, but never give up. With the right tools and help, you can break through your child’s fentanyl addiction and help them begin on their path to recovery. And once they embark on this path, they will see the potential they have to create a new life.
Turning Treatment Into Recovery
The uncertainty that surrounds you when your child is struggling with addiction can be scary. But once you successfully get them into a comprehensive residential treatment program, they will have the tools necessary to break out of the haze of addiction. From mindfulness meditation to experiential therapy, they will be able to uncover the causes of their fentanyl use and replace them with adaptive therapies conducive to recovery.
And even after they leave, they will have a connected support network to fall back on when they feel their lowest. But most importantly, you will also remain connected to supports that you can use for guidance anytime you feel the need. Because as a parent, you are a crucial part of your child’s journey, and you need support just as much as they do.
Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.