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Help them stop: Talking to loved ones about prescription drug abuse.

By Tim Woodley

A friend or loved one has a problem – and you want to help. They seem to be struggling with a growing dependency on the drugs they are prescribed to. It’s changing them, their behaviour and their relationships with you and those around you.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon. Despite what many adults think, the UK has long battled widespread addiction – and prescription drugs are no exception. Over £36 billion is spent each year on treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and the most common suspects include opioids and opioid painkillers. In 2013, the UK was named by the Centre for Social Justice as the “addiction capital of Europe”.

Fortunately, it can get better. Today we are offering three key points to consider. Provided by Help Me Stop’s addiction professionals, these suggestions will help you shape your next steps into something effective, safe and decisive in helping your loved one overcome this issue.

If you’re unsure and need to talk immediately with a professional, give us a call at 0208 191 8920 or email us.


Drive it home: They don’t have to be addicts to deserve or need help.

Perhaps one of the most important first things to drive home when confronting a loved one about drug misuse is that they don’t have to be an addict yet. The word addict is often overly used when discussing substance misuse, and when we think of the word addiction we understandably conjure an image of a person who is near rock bottom.

The truth? Any kind of inability or struggle to control drug consumption is a problem that needs to be fixed and deserves professional support and attention. Your loved one doesn’t have to be an addict to need help; many adults across the UK struggle with dependency on prescription drugs – and many of them struggle alone when they could benefit from support.

So when you open the conversation up, keep this concept at the forefront of the discussion. There’s no shame in having an issue with a strong prescription drug and it’s much better for them and those around them if the problem is nipped in the bud before it worsens.


Discuss steadily lowering their consumption.

Particularly true for those who have not yet progressed into full addiction, the idea of reducing a prescription is a solid place to start. If a GP prescribes a drug with addictive properties, there will always be a conversation about the potential dangers – and the prescription will likely involve a steady reduction of the amount to be consumed towards the end of it.

For many, however, their dependency and issues with the drug can develop sooner. This can lead them to do things like buying other drugs online or travelling to different pharmacies to obtain more than they are prescribed. Withdrawal symptoms can begin to trouble a person before they consciously feel or admit they are addicted to any extent, compelling them towards this behaviour.

In such cases, it can be helpful to talk honestly about their pace of consumption and the idea of gradually reducing it. Success can be had by doing this; it doesn’t always have to be a ‘cold turkey’ affair.

Discussing this can be a great time to introduce a health professional into the mix; your GP will be ready to support your loved one in their efforts to break their habits. You can also talk to Help Me Stop and our addiction rehab professionals at 0208 191 8920 or by email.


Talk about proper drug disposal.

If your loved one is ready to reduce or end their misuse of prescription drugs, it’s good to talk with them about proper medication disposal. This is a serious issue in the UK and overseas; over 70% of people in America in a 2009 poll who used prescription painkillers claimed to have obtained them from relatives and friends.

Disposing of drugs properly is a positive step to take and will ensure that there is no temptation to return to drug misuse and potential subsequent addiction or relapse. Once more, disposing of medication properly is something a health professional will be able to advise on or assist with, so consider bringing your GP into the picture to ensure the result is legitimate, safe and legal.


We hope this helps – and we’re here for you.

It’s great to talk about this issue with your friend or loved one before it gets worse. Always remember that there are addiction rehab services that are great for people who haven’t fallen into full addiction just yet. Help Me Stop’s Digital Dayhab is a great example of this – it’s all-online, affordable, flexible and intensive. For a longer course that involves in-person sessions at our London centre, you can also take a look at our groundbreaking Dayhab programme which is available at a tenth the price of residential rehabilitation while matching or exceeding them in success rates.