One of the most challenging aspects of addiction is the fact that many of its victims are unwilling or unable to acknowledge that they have a problem. This is heartbreaking for loved ones, who stand by desperately watching the addicted person sink deeper and deeper into their condition. Advising them to get help is fruitless: they do not believe they have a problem, so why would they get help?
Trying to persuade the addicted person can backfire. If you insist that they need help, they may become withdrawn or belligerent; worst of all, they may double down on their drug or alcohol use and find new ways of concealing it. Their downward spiral escalates, and you feel powerless to stop it.
You may feel as if all hope is lost, but the good news is that there is another way.
Intervention May Be the Answer
People with addictions often experience breakdowns in multiple areas of their lives. They struggle financially, their health deteriorates, they lose interest in previously enjoyed activities, and they find themselves constantly at odds with the people around them. They insist that they are fine, and they will often shift the blame for their financial and social woes onto their close friends and family members.
The addicted person is not going to accept help from someone who they perceive to be the problem, but they may accept it from an impartial observer who has no personal stake in the outcome. This is what interventions are all about. An objective third party – the interventionist – gathers together the addicted person and their loved ones. The loved ones read a prepared statement that described how the addiction has impacted them. When all of the statements have been read, the interventionist offers to take the addicted person to an addiction treatment facility to get the help they need.
Do Interventions Work?
Like many things in life, interventions can be highly effective when planned and executed properly, and disastrous if attempted without proper thought and planning. There are some things you can do to maximize the chances of the intervention leading to help for your loved one.
Choose the Right People
The ideal team for an intervention includes a professional interventionist and a few carefully selected people who have a meaningful relationship with the addicted person and genuinely want to help. Those who are there simply to air a grievance are not likely to add anything positive to the process. The number of people matters as well: too few could result in the message not having enough impact, but too many could make the person you are trying to help feel overwhelmed.
Why Use an Interventionist?
Professional interventions can be costly, especially if they involve travel. For this reason, families and loved ones are often tempted to stage the intervention themselves, without professional help. This can be challenging if the addiction has resulted in adversarial relationships: the intervention could fail instantly if the addicted person has already decided that his loved ones are “wrong”.
A professional interventionist brings a layer of objectivity into the proceedings. They don’t have a personal stake in the outcome, and because no prior relationship exists, the addicted person is more likely to sit down and listen – even if it’s just for the sake of being polite.
In addition, an interventionist can help you assemble the rest of the team, offer guidelines on preparing the written statements, secure a rehab place for the individual, and advise loved ones on getting support for themselves.
Choose the Right Place
While a home setting may seem like the most convenient location, it creates the potential for the addicted person to simply get up and leave if the conversation becomes difficult. Try to find a neutral setting, such as a room in a community centre or church. The space should be comfortable without being cosy, and there should be guaranteed privacy from the outside world.
Choose the Right Time
Interventions cannot be staged for people who are under the influence of substances. For a start, someone who is high or drunk will not be able to absorb and understand the messages that are being imparted. In addition, someone who is impaired does not have the legal capacity to agree to anything.
It is important to schedule the intervention for a time when the individual is most likely to be sober. If, in spite of your best scheduling efforts, the person shows up intoxicated, simply disband the group for the day and reschedule the intervention.
Choose and Say the Right Words
If you are participating in an intervention, don’t try to wing it. This creates too much potential for emotion to take over. The message you want to impart could be deeply painful for you to deliver, and without a prepared and rehearsed statement, you could become overwhelmed and lose your train of thought. The best approach is to prepare a written statement that describes how the addiction has impacted you and your relationship with your loved one. You should also ask the addicted person to seek help, and state what the consequence will be if they don’t. Ensure that the consequence is one that you are willing and able to carry out.
Ensure That Everyone is Safe
It can be difficult to predict how the person with the addiction will cope with the intervention, so it is important to have some safety plans in place for everyone. The first person to consider is the one you are trying to help. Ensure that they feel safe when they walk into the room. The goal is to create an environment of support, not to gang up on the person.
It is also important to have a plan in place for participants if the intervention does not work out as you hope. Some people with addictions are prone to violent or aggressive behaviour, and participants need to be able to quickly be separated from the addicted person in the event of an outburst. At the same time, the person who is addicted needs to be protected from self-harm.
The Intervention Rehab Approach
At Intervention Rehab, we are committed to supporting people who are trying to get help for their addicted loved ones. We understand that feeling of despair, and we are here to rekindle the flame of hope. Our intervention specialists know how to plan and execute an intervention with delicacy and tact. The person with the addiction will be offered a space in a rehab program that is right for them, and they – and you – will be able to start the journey of healing.