What is an intervention?
Addiction is often referred to as a family disease. When a person goes down the path of drug or alcohol addiction, it affects more than just them. Their loved ones are caught in the storm of their drinking, using, lying, cheating and stealing. Families can be torn apart because one member of the family is addicted to drugs or alcohol. It’s difficult for parents to agree on the best way to help an addict because some may want to love and support the person as much as possible because the user can’t take care of themselves. Other members of the family hate the addict for the harmful things he or she has done, so they decide to sever all ties, and this is where the division of families begin.
The most important aspect to understand about addicts is that they’re dealing with a problem that’s far beyond their control. Those who want to sever ties with the user think that the person is making bad decisions, and he or she should have the willpower or the logic to realize what they’re doing and stop. Addiction is a legitimate mental illness, and the person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has no more control over their issues as if they were diagnosed with a chronic illness like cancer.
The primary issue with addiction is that unlike other diseases, the person doesn’t want help. Someone who is sick or injured knows that they need to see a doctor to get help, but an addict doesn’t have this same logic. Addiction affects the part of the mind responsible for self-awareness, and the person’s survival instincts are significantly skewed. They’re not only in denial about their addiction, but they typically get upset when anyone tries to tell them they have a problem.
Families can start off by trying an informal intervention. Addicts get stuck in the same routine of drinking or using, and sometimes they legitimately don’t realize how much they are hurting their loved ones. Sometimes all it takes is for one person close to the addict’s life to suggest the idea of going to rehab or ask if he or she has ever considered it. When the person’s addiction is in the early stages, this may be enough to change their train of thought and make them understand that other people are beginning to see that there’s a problem so they should seek help.
The most common type is a formal intervention, and it’s the type one would typically see on television or in movies. A formal intervention is when the loved ones of the addict confront the person and let him or her know that they will no longer be supported in any way unless the addict seeks treatment. It’s easier said than done because the user can become defensive, emotions from the loved ones can run high and there’s a possibility the person will still refuse treatment. There is a proper way to have an intervention, though, and it involves a process.
The Intervention Process
There are multiple steps to planning an intervention, and each of the steps is key to having the best chances of the addict agreeing to treatment. These are practices that have been tried and proven by addiction specialists as well. Planning who will be at the intervention and thoroughly researching the addict’s problem are crucial first steps, and the loved ones should always make sure that the right people will be attending. Before the intervention, it’s important to know what boundaries everyone is going to set in case the person decides not to go to treatment, and this should be written down. The loved ones should also have a plan for both scenarios after the intervention before it takes place.
During the planning phase of the intervention, the closest people to the addict should always consult an addiction specialist. The addiction specialist will help teach the ones involved the best practices for the rest of the process so the loved ones and the addict may have the best results. The research can be done before meeting with the specialist. The more the professionals knows about what types of drugs the addict is using or how much they’re drinking, the better the specialist can recommend a treatment program that the addict can go to should he or she agree to treatment.
Ideally, there should be four to six people who participate in the intervention. These can be family members closest to the addict, best friends, teachers or clergy. The important thing is to have people that the user respects or loves, but there shouldn’t be anyone there who also has a substance abuse problem or someone who may cause a problem during the intervention. Everyone involved needs to write down what they plan on saying to the addict, and this is all about how the addict’s destructive behavior has personally affected the person reading the letter. The boundaries should be stated at the end, and it’s saying that the loved one will no longer help the addict in any way because it’s contributing to enable the user.
Should you consult a professional?
There are qualified specialists called interventionists who can attend the intervention, and they’re extremely beneficial to have the actual response. Emotions will be flowing during the intervention, and the interventionist can help keep the situation on track, so everyone remembers that they’re all there to help the addict seek treatment. The interventionist offers an unbiased point of view, which can be helpful if an argument arises during the intervention.
The interventionist is also additional support for the loved ones after the intervention. They’re there to help remind the family that they need to stay right to the boundaries they set if the addict chooses not to go to treatment. The good news is that often when the loved ones stick to their limitations, it’s only a matter of days before the addict returns and agrees to seek the help that they so desperately need.