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Opioid Addiction Treatment is Not One-Size-Fits-All

By Comments off By the Numbers: Opioid Addiction Treatment is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Families struggling with a loved one’s opioid addiction need help sorting through the options and finding the one that’s best for their situation.

When we talk about the opioid epidemic and opioid addiction, the stereotype we often have is of a street junkie. The truth is, every addict is different and opiate addiction comes in a wide variety of forms, making it necessary to seek a variety of solutions for treatment.

Yes, you have the addict who ends up shooting heroin, selling his body on the street for cash or drugs or living in his car—if he’s lucky enough to still have one. But on the other end of the spectrum is the soccer mom who had shoulder surgery and is now addicted to Vicodin. She ends up “doctor shopping” because her family doctor cut her off. And she eventually resorts to building a network of people she can buy prescription pills from illegally. And in between those two are a multitude of others. Opioid addicts are totally disparate in their social status, habits, behaviors and the chemicals they’re using. And also in how their addictions affect their families.

Which Treatment Center is Best?

Once a family recognizes their loved one has a problem, finding a solution that works is incredibly challenging. The opioid epidemic has pushed treatment centers to develop lots of different approaches to treatment, which is a good thing because each approach will likely be the one that works for some addicts. But for the families trying to navigate the system without help, finding the approach that’s best suited for their loved ones can be overwhelming.

Often, family members call the treatment centers that show up in their Google search results. If they make eight phone calls, they’ll get eight different approaches to treatment with all of the treatment centers saying, “This is the only way to deal effectively with opioids.” The initial exposure to the world of addiction treatment centers can be so mind-boggling that the family members who are attempting to create a plan for someone who’s irrational and out of control can themselves start to feel insane.

Why Isn’t This Treatment Center Working?

Once a family enters the treatment center system, if they don’t sense forward movement, they’ll start treatment shopping the same way the addict they love shopped for drugs. For example, a family places their adult son in a treatment center that says it has the answer. But a week into treatment, the son calls his drug dealer to pick him up and he goes and gets high. The family is frustrated at the treatment center for letting that happen, but the treatment center couldn’t stop him. It’s not a locked facility. The employees can’t tackle him in the parking lot. But now the family feels like the treatment center has failed them, so they try another treatment center that says they have the answer, say a methadone-based approach. But when the son gets out, he is still addicted to opiates and behaving the same way.

So the family decides to try a holistic center, where the son is going to get massage and acupuncture and intensive therapy. But there he keeps getting caught with alcohol or benzodiazepine being sneaked in by who knows who. For the family, it seems as if all the help they’ve sought has failed. They’ve poured time, emotions and lots of money into this process and nothing’s worked. It’s easy to understand why many families start to feel like the system is working against them, that treatment doesn’t work.

Family-Focused Recovery

The truth is, there isn’t an “only way” to recover from opioid addiction. If you have seven opioid addicts who’ve successfully recovered, they’ve probably used seven different approaches. What families need is an advocate to pull all the data together. This includes the individual’s history, specific habits and chemicals being used, and weave all that information together into an effective approach that points to the most appropriate treatment option. This is an important piece of family-focused recovery but one that often gets overlooked as families slog through the many different treatment options on their own. Yet, by investing in the services of a family-focused recovery consultant, families can save themselves time, money and heartache on their way to a solution.

—Marc Hertz founded Marc Hertz Consulting with a passion for helping not just the individual suffering from addiction or mental health issues, but his or her family as well.

Marc Hertz Consulting and FRrē helps guide families through the process of healing from opioid addiction. Learn more about our family-focused solutions and our expertise in helping place people in the right treatment center for them.

Looking for more information on how to help your loved one recover? Schedule a consultation or email us at for more information.