I think my mother is addicted to painkillers, what should I do?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 22, 2016
Familytorn asked...

i think my mother is addicted to painkillers. she hurt her back several years ago and has had three back surgeries. she constantly complain of being in pain. she has said the pills no longer work and seeks more medication. she has stopped seeing her grandchild and has pushed all family members away. i believe my father to be an enabler, he only makes excuses and says there is nothing wrong. i cant talk to either of them without an arguement. i need help. what should i do? how do i confront them to get my mother some help.?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Reading through your letter, I know that you are frustrated with your mother. Speaking from experience, I know it is difficult to help people who are having problems and then refuse your help or advice.

Your mother actually sounds like she has chronic pain from her back surgeries. Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than 6 months, and it can be very difficult to deal with. It is hard to treat with medications alone, as there is often a nerve pain component as well as musculoskeletal pain. It is also associated with higher rates of depression, which is sounds like your mother may have. This may be why she won't see her grandchildren or other family members. Think about it this way- it is hard to be fun and social when you are in excruciating pain.

What I would suggest is that your mother needs to see a pain specialist to get the help she needs. She may need an antidepressant, as well as other special medications besides painkillers, as she told your herself that they do not work anymore.
Good luck!

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

If you look at your mom honestly ask yourself if she is in control.. Some people who are addicted are very good at hiding the addiction but have trouble hiding their behavior and mannerisms when it comes to anger and other personality changes. Is she in control of herself her actions ect would be a good way of trying to find out how serious the problem could or may be. When you use the term enabler"¦ a lot of times even the enabler doesn't know how serious the addiction is. A lot of time just knowing that they are loved is a good way to support and to fight the disease. When confronting it is important to not be angry with her or make her feel that she is in trouble but be open and treat her like a normal person. If you look at family members specifically your grandparents and see if either of them have a history of alcoholism, drugs, sex ect you may find more of a reason to conclude the addiction. It is unfortunate that she has back issues so fighting an addiction for something that is meant to help cope with the physical pain may be difficult. I would say looking into other ways of treatment to cope with the pain would be ideal.. Medical Marijuana cold be a good alterative, however socially it is way less acceptable.. If I was to ever recommend, it would be for the possible scenario that your mother may be in now because it is supposed to help with pain and would help steer her from the narcotics.