How to Support a Loved One Through an Overdose

July 31, 2020
How to Support a Loved One Through an Overdose
Jenna Nolan

Jenna Nolan is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Jenna enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.

How to Support a Loved One Through an Overdose

Getting a call that someone you love has overdosed can be a horrific experience. Worst still, is being there to witness it and frantically looking for ways to save their life. For those lucky to survive an overdose, they often have a long road to recovery. There are multiple steps to recovery and there’s no guarantee they won’t relapse. However, with adequate amounts of support and love, the chances of them recovering and maintaining sobriety could increase. So, as a loved one, how do you offer them the support they need after an overdose?

Avoid Judging

Everyone reacts differently to an overdose. However, it’s important that you avoid being harsh or judgemental after someone you love survives an overdose. More than ever, they need love and support––not a lecture or tough love. If they’re willing to talk, explore how they’re feeling and let them know you’re there to support them until they get back on their feet. It’s a sensitive time, so you want to avoid attitudes or language that could push them over the edge.

Suggest Rehab

After surviving an overdose, it’s critical your loved one gets help immediately. Detox is one of the first steps to recovery, but there are still several others. Rehabilitation will ensure they receive a full-continuum of care which can increase the likelihood of recovery and long-term sobriety. No matter how much support you offer, it may not be enough to help them fully recover. People battling any type of substance abuse often need professional help to get their lives back on track.

Suggest rehabilitation facilities they can check into so they receive full support and can work towards holistic healing. At rehab, they should receive a medical assessment and combination of treatment modalities to address the causes of their addiction. What happens if they refuse to go to rehab? Consider staging an intervention––a structured conversation between you, your loved one and an intervention specialist––as a means of changing their mind. In a best case scenario, you’ll convince them to get the professional help they need.

Take Care of Yourself

Self-care is just as important for you as it is for recovering teens. Watching or hearing of someone you care for overdosing can be a traumatic event for you so looking after yourself is key. Make sure you’re taking care of your mental health and addressing any overwhelming feelings. If your mental health is declining, it can be tough to extend love and support to anyone else. Step back and see what you need, be it more rest, to engage in activities that bring you joy, or to speak with someone about your experience. Therapy and counseling are positive outlets to consider. There is no shame in speaking to a professional. In fact, they can equip you with the tools and resources you need to nurse yourself back to a positive space.

Learn More About Substance Abuse

The more you know about substance abuse, the more help you can extend to your loved one. Having a greater understanding of the nature of addiction and how it impacts their behavior can make you more empathetic and patient. To improve your knowledge, look for online resources that give facial information about the substance they’re abusing. Also, consider support groups so you can speak to other people who have had similar experiences and draw strength from them.



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