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What are the steps to take when you have a family member out…

Customer Question
What are the steps...

What are the steps to take when you have a family member out of state that's severely addicted to opiates? How does the family approach the family member to get them into therapy?

Doctor's Assistant: Have you seen a doctor about this yet? What medications are you taking?

We have not seen a doctor. They are taking Fentanyl, Oxycodone, morphine, and a sleeping ad that we aren't sure what it is. She's 77 years old and we can not find out who her doctors are because we are out of state. We are extremely afraid that something will happen before we can get to her. We want to go as a family...four of us, maybe more to her to bring her to closer to us.

Doctor's Assistant: Anything else in your medical history you think the psychologist should know?

Yes, she has my other sister living with her who has full blown dementia.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Mental Health
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Answered in 1 hour by:
3/22/2018
Mental Health Professional: LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker replied 3 months ago
LeahMSWuofm
LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,105
Experience: 10 years post-MSW experience
Verified
Hi, thank you for writing. My name is***** am sorry you are facing this decision in terms of how to best help your family member. Unfortunately, despite the fact that she has a drug addiction, this is may not give you automatic leniency to enforce that she go to treatment or that she relocate closer to you guys. This is assuming she's capable of making her own decisions and in that case, she is considered her own person as a consenting adult. However, I think the approach of taking four family members and doing a "intervention" is a sound one as it will put her in the predicament of having to answer to multiple people when they express their great concern for her well-being. Each of you can take turns discussing your sincere concern hopefully providing examples of how you have recognized the drug abuse interfering with your sister and your own quality of life. This is the time for honesty and openness where you invite your sister simply to listen asking her to be patient as you each take a turn then giving her a chance to reply. When you do this, you need to be able to present a very sturdy plan for what you are proposing. Doing an intervention without a immediate follow-up plan may be futile. In other words, you may want to consider locating and assuring that she would have a bed at an Inpatient Rehab Facility and consider driving her there after you intervene with her. Or, if your intention is to get her to get in a car and travel with you, then you need to have some plan for treatment in your own home for her. Again, as long as this person has her faculties, she has the right to refuse treatment even though you know that this is a dangerous path for her to be on.As far as more intensive options that you could potentially lean on for support, you could consider filing an Adult Protective Services report on her for her own inability to take care of herself because of her impaired judgment. This could also be to the benefit of your sister who has dementia with some presumption that the drug abuse is getting in the way of your sister being a reliable caregiver. APS will investigate the case to determine if anybody is being neglected or harmed and if they recognize potential issues, they may offer interventions to help your sister get treatment.The other tool you could attempt to enforce would be to go a legal route and petition to have your sister put on a " involuntary psychiatric hold" ( often called a 5150) on the grounds of her being a danger to herself or someone else as a result of her addiction. If you have enough evidence to support this and a judge hears the case, he can award a 72-hour hold which could get your sister some immediate treatment in an inpatient setting and a treatment plan to follow up with. If you want more information about how to file this, contact your sister's local police department so you get the information from that state or contact your sister's nearest local psychiatric emergency room and ask about how to go about filing the petition.
I know these are all difficult options. I really commend you on your drive to get things better for your two sisters. I hope that she is receptive to you and your other family members coming to offer support to her and your other sister. It certainly is ideal if someone is battling addiction with people around her who love and support her. This is a very important piece of the process. However, if your sister isn't willing to make attempts to change, and you don't have grounds to get treatment imparted on her, then you may have to realize that your hands are tied. In that case, you may want to focus on effort for your sister with dementia to ensure she is well cared for.
I hope this helps and I'm here to chat more if you'd like!
Leah
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Mental Health Professional: LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker replied 3 months ago

Hi, I just wanted to check in with you since this question is still open due to being unrated. Can I help further? Hope you are having a nice weekend!

-Leah

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