For 73% of the United States population, consuming alcohol responsibly, avoiding illegal drugs, and not abusing prescription drugs, are fairly easy guidelines and rules to follow. However, for the 27% of the population that struggle with drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, wanting to stop abusing and actually doing so are two completely different things.
When you are a consistent witness to someone’s addiction, such as a family member or close friend, knowing what to do or how to help them deal with their addiction is not always obvious. As the loved one of an addict you have likely gone through the cycle many times that starts with you hoping that your loved one will stop using and abusing drugs or alcohol on their own, but that always ends with you being disappointed or let down when they don’t, can’t, or won’t. Unfortunately, waiting for an addict to acknowledge their addiction and to be strong enough on their own to stop abusing drugs or alcohol is an extremely lofty, and in most cases, unlikely dream.
In the case where your loved one does not recognize the destruction and damage their addiction is creating, or they are unwilling to admit their own powerlessness in controlling their addictive behaviors, holding an addiction intervention is necessary. Knowing what to do and how to communicate with your loved one during an addiction intervention is key. If you don’t feel knowledgeable enough to do the intervention by yourself or with other concerned family members or friends, using an intervention service and a professional interventionist may be an option to consider.
What is an Intervention?
There are many different definitions of addiction intervention, but all of them describe an intervention as being a solution-oriented and structured process undergone to confront someone about their substance abuse. The intervention is used to persuade the individual to seek help for their addiction. Often times, ultimatums and boundaries are used and reinforced to leverage a positive response from the addict.
The Intervention Process
According to Mayo Clinic, there are seven essential steps for a successful intervention.
- Planning the intervention. A concerned loved one of the addict proposes the idea to intervene. This is the best time to consult with an organization that offers intervention services. Because interventions have a tendency to be emotionally charged, the presence of a professional during the intervention is crucial.
- Gathering information. The extent of the individual’s addiction is analyzed and treatment options are researched.
- Outlining the team. The intervention team is formed. The team is carefully planned; only crucial loved ones of the addict and the interventionist are present for the process.
- Outlining consequences. Each person on the intervention team will need to outline a list of consequences that the addict will have to face from them if they choose not to accept treatment. For example, a parent might sever financial support. A roommate might threaten moving out or eviction.
- Planning what will be said. Because it’s easy to become emotional and wind up saying things that aren’t meant, it’s a good idea to plan out what will be said by each person in the intervention. It’s imperative that everyone stays on topic and sticks to their main points to avoid outbursts or downward turns.
- Conducting the intervention meeting. The addict is invited to the intervention site without he/she knowing the reason of the visit. The intervention starts when the group, interventionist, and addict are all present in the same room. Each group member takes turns speaking while the interventionist guides and structures the process. After the final group member has spoken, the chosen treatment option is presented. It must be accepted on the spot. Bargaining no longer exists once the ultimatum has been posed.
- Following up. You must continue to work with your loved one as he/she undergoes recovery. This means changing your own life to make recovery easier for your loved one (i.e. not keeping alcohol in the house), offering to receive counseling along with him/her, and having a plan of action in place in case of relapse.
While addiction intervention can easily produce positive results, you might find yourself wondering if it’s a necessary venture for your loved one’s particular situation. It’s not uncommon that addicts recognize their struggles with addiction and choose to find a path to recovery on their own. However, this is simply not the case for everyone. Many other people will notice that they have problems with addiction, but they simply won’t possess the strength, knowledge, or consciousness to make a change for themselves. Some don’t see a problem at all.
When someone suffering from substance abuse can’t or won’t make a change to better their life, addiction intervention is completely necessary. There are also warning signs that you can keep an eye out for that suggest intervention may be necessary. They are as follows:
- Their quality of life has severely plummeted from substance abuse.
- They have lost/gained a significant amount of weight.
- They do not attend or seem interested in family gatherings/functions.
- Family and friends continually fight with them.
- They have promised to get help in the past, but never followed through.
- Their personal hygiene has declined.
- They often lie about their whereabouts.
- They blatantly deny substance abuse when it is severely obvious.
How Can Addiction Intervention Help?
In situations of substance abuse where there are no obvious answers, intervention can help immensely.
An interventionist is trained to plan and conduct an intervention so that the loved one has the best odds of accepting treatment. Without a professional present, an intervention has a much higher chance of turning hostile, veering off track, or losing its formality and seriousness. It’s imperative that the intervention retains structure and composure, and an interventionist has been trained on how to do that.
Taking the Next Step
If you’re sure that your loved one is ready for an addiction intervention, take the first step and research interventionist options. The beginning to any strong intervention team is a trained interventionist that knows how to handle even some of the most delicate situations.
Overall, you should acknowledge to yourself the fact that your loved one likely cannot overcome his/her addiction by themselves. They might genuinely want to beat their addiction and get help, but they just don’t have the tools, humility, or the capability to follow through on their own.
If you’d like to speak to one of our compassionate advisors for guidance, please call 1-800-259-1361.