Wednesday, 13 December 2017

TREVOR'S STORY: FROM ADDICTION TO CAREGIVER


If you told me a decade ago that I’d be responsible for someone else’s life, I’d probably have laughed. Back then, I was barely able to take care of myself. I was a drug addict.
Today, I've been sober for nearly a decade, and I have a new lease on life. I am so thankful that I got myself together because now I'm charged with caring for my elderly father. Aside from putting him in a facility, I'm the only one who can do it. I don’t even want to think about what his life would be like if I hadn’t recovered.
But being in recovery has given me a different perspective on my role as a caregiver. You see, my father was recently prescribed an opioid painkiller. When some people think about addiction, they don’t think it can happen to the elderly. I know better.
I've been in various rehabs in my lifetime, and I know that addiction can affect anyone. The elderly are even more susceptible because they have a slower metabolism. Their bodies aren’t as efficient at processing the drugs as ours.
Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem for the elderly. The following are some of the steps I take to help my father avoid addiction:
1.              I control the pills – Being a recovering addict myself, this isn't easy for me. But I feel it's necessary. I don't think my father would intentionally abuse his painkillers, but his memory isn't what it once was. I'm afraid he may take too many pills simply because he doesn't remember. For this reason, I keep all of his pills in a drawer in my room.
2.              I keep a record of how often he takes them – Unlike his heart medicine, painkillers aren’t pills you should take on a regular basis. They are only supposed to be taken as needed, and I want to know if he gradually needs more to dull his pain. Currently, he's only taking about two or three a week. Every time I give him a pill, I make a note. This way, I can look back and see whether his needs are increasing. If they do, which is common, this is something I will discuss with his doctor.
3.              We have in-depth conversations about addiction – My father knows what drugs have done to my life. He understands that I wasn’t some type of derelict before drugs. Anyone can fall victim to addiction. Thankfully, he really understands the inner workings of addiction. He doesn’t want that life any more than I want it for him, so he understands why I am so focused on his prescription medications.
It’s funny how life changes. I never thought I’d be in this place, but I am so grateful to be here. My father was one of my biggest supporters through one of the most challenging times of my life, and I’m glad to be here caring for him when he needs me. This is a job I take very seriously. In fact, I think it may be one of the most important things I can do.

If you have a senior in your family who needs help with drug or alcohol addiction click HERE. The National Council on Seniors Drug and Alcohol Rehab is there to help. 
Trevor McDonald is a writer and recovering addict who’s been clean for over 10 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, raise addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying any type of fitness activity. Trevor is a caregiver for his father.
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