Help for Mothers Addicted to Prescription Meds – A Growing Epidemic

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girl-on-bed-slbtsThere is nothing worse than a family member who is addicted to prescription medications yet in denial because they are ‘legal.’

Well, almost nothing!

The worst situation for a family to deal with is when the person popping the pills is a mother with underage children in the home.

If you are a spouse, child or family member of a mother addicted to prescription drugs, don’t despair because help is available.

Recognizing the Problem

Unfortunately, altogether too many women are in denial when it comes to taking prescription medications. More often than not they are in denial because those pills were prescribed by a medical doctor. The first step in addiction treatment for women is getting them to admit there is a problem. This may be the most difficult step in her journey towards recovery but it is the one that needs to precede all others. Unless mom is willing to admit she has a problem there is no help for her.

Ethical and Legal Responsibility of Being a Mother

Too many women fail to understand that prescription pills are no less habit-forming than crack cocaine or methamphetamine. Yes, they may be legally prescribed by a doctor who is duly licensed to prescribe drugs but the problem rests on addiction, not the legality issue. If you are a mother of children it is your ethical and legal duty to be sober enough to care for your kids. It’s just that simple.

Family Accountability

Rationally functioning family members also have an ethical and legal responsibility to act on behalf of minor children. If mom is unable to care for the kids due to addiction, you must take steps to see to the wellbeing of the children. Not only is it the right thing to do – it’s the law! You can’t claim culpable deniability on this one if you KNOW there is a problem and the children are in imminent danger.

Consequences Too Numerous to Count

Mothers with prescription pill addictions face the consequences just as those do who are taking heroin, meth, crack or any other street drug. If you have a family member whose children are in danger because of mom’s addiction, perhaps the best thing that can happen is for CPS to step in and take the kids. This is the one consequence most families fear most but in the scheme of things, placing kids in a safe environment is better than many of the alternatives.

How many children are injured or die each year in the United States due to mothers being zoned out when they should be watching their little ones?

Stop Being the Enabler

Fearing the consequences, many families tend to either ignore the symptoms of prescription drug abuse or step in to fill the void whenever possible. This just may be the worst thing you can do.

If mom has a problem with prescription drug abuse, will not admit a problem and the children are in danger you can:

  • Get her admitted to a drug rehab center
  • Remove the kids and call the authorities
  • Take her to a local county detox

If you are a family member taking the kids out of the home, it is in your best interest to call the authorities immediately so as to avoid kidnapping charges. Many times CPS will allow the children to stay in your home if it passes minimum requirements, but that is not the issue. The children’s safety and wellbeing is what counts.

County Detox vs Private Care

Quite often we take the women in our families to public detox centers. This may be acceptable if you are trying to save her life in the moment but as far as helping with the addiction, these are only short term facilities until the drugs exit her body. The typical length of stay is 3 to 5 days in county detox such as in King County in Washington State, and she’s packed back home again.

Private drug treatment facilities will work the mom through stages from detox to recovery. These can be short term inpatient with long term outpatient care or the mom can be a resident at the facility until successfully treated. In any case, with budget cuts across the board in most government resources, private care is always a better option.

The key point to bring home from all this is that prescription pill addictions are no less dangerous than addictions to street drugs. Just be aware of the fact that you can bring a mother to detox but you can’t get treatment unless she admits the problem and is willing to affect change in her life. Tough love may be in order but with support and encouragement with the family and a professional treatment program, addictions can be dealt with.

Recovery may be long and slow but taking those steps one at a time, one day at a time, is movement in the right direction and that’s what counts.

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