SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Addiction is a disease of denial and a scary topic to talk about. Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual campaign to end overdoses.
With cities such as San Francisco declaring opioid overdose emergencies, awareness surrounding overdose dangers has increased. “Are more people aware? Yes. But more people are dying,” said Scott Silverman, a crisis coach and founder of Second Chance. “The number of fentanyl overdose-related deaths continues to skyrocket.”
Silverman specializes in serving as a bridge between someone suffering from substance use, their concerned loved ones, and finding the right resources for recovery. His book, “The Opioid Epidemic, What You Don’t Know Will Destroy Your Family and Your Life,” explains how to open up potentially life-saving conversations.
“Your children are coming of age in a time that is unlike what you experienced. The dangers of drugs are more prevalent and able to travel right into the home via Snapchat and other social media sites,” he said.
Addiction is a disease that doesn’t get the respect of other diseases, according to Silverman. “People say ‘we can’t help them because they don’t want help,'” he noted.
Substance use disorders, however, are treatable medical diseases, he said. The road to recovery is long and hard. But compassion, understanding, and communication from family and friends can make all the difference.
Silverman took his own first steps toward recovery in 1984 after he almost jumped out of a New York City skyscraper’s window.
“I was prepared to jump out the window knowing I wouldn’t have any more pain. I wouldn’t have to give any more explanations for what I was doing and why I was doing it. There are three words that are really hard to say: ‘I need help.’ I had a supportive family. If you don’t have someone in your life who cares, it’s difficult. I got treatment, I got lucky. Once the fog lifted, I accepted I had this disease,” he said.
Today he is 35 years sober and a living example that recovery is possible.
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Silverman said the best thing a concerned person can do for their loved one is to do some research on substance abuse disorders and resources that can help, such as rehabilitation centers. Once you are informed, you have a better chance of having a productive conversation, he told KRON4.
“Understand they are self-medicating. It’s not something they want to do. God gave us two ears and one mouth. Listen instead of pointing your finger out. Hear where the pain is coming from,” he said.
Don’t try to “fix” the person or problem, he said. Instead, talk to professionals in your community, find the appropriate level of care needed, and communicate compassion. “Say ‘I love you. I care about you. I hear everything you are saying. What can I do to help?’ If they are talking, that’s a good sign that the door may open,” Silverman said.