One of the most painful things in the world is knowing a loved one needs help and not being able to provide it. Perhaps your loved one suffers from drug addiction or struggles with alcoholism. You know you want to get them assistance to ease their pain and get them on the path to sobriety, but you do not know where to start. People you know offer contradictory advice about getting your loved one into an alcohol or drug intervention program, and you worry about making the problem worse rather than better if you interfere.
The good news is that there is help for you.
Conducting an intervention, where your loved one is confronted with what impact his or her behavior has had on family and friends, and what has to change in the future, is a smart way to get your loved one on the way to a treatment facility. You are best served using an intervention specialist for these extremely sensitive and emotional cases. There is a lot involved in pulling off an intervention, from logistics to the actual discussion. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the difficult process of alcohol and drug treatment intervention, to eventually get your loved one on the path to recovery.
In simplest terms, an intervention is a pre-planned event in which the loved ones of a person struggling with addiction confront him or her about alcohol, or drug use and how it has impacted them. Family, friends, co-workers and even employers are invited to share their stories of how the loved one’s alcohol or drug abuse has escalated or become a problem.
Often, these testimonies are written down, so the loved one can refer back to their descriptions later, after the shock of the intervention is over and when they are deciding whether or not to get help. Sometimes, the intervention takes place at work, where a drug or alcohol problem can have serious repercussions for employers.
For decades, interventions were designed as surprises, sprung on the loved one when they least expected it. This element of surprise offers many advantages, not the least of which is that most addicts and alcoholics do not want to talk about drug or alcohol treatment intervention. But in recent years it has become more common for families to tell their loved one that they are seeing a counselor to deal with the person’s addiction problems. The intervention is planned in advance and the alcoholic or person struggling with addiction is informed about it.
Interventions generally take two days.
Everyone who will be involved (excluding the alcoholic) first meets with the professional interventionist. In this first stage of preparation, the family members or friends can receive some general education on the purpose and mechanics of interventions.
The problem is defined, concerns are discussed, expectations are set, roles and procedures are outlined and any necessary logistics are hammered out. Together with the interventionist, you and your loved ones can determine how best to approach the person and discuss what treatment and other arrangements are most suitable.
This first meeting also provides the interventionist with the opportunity to gain some initial insight into the particular situation, dynamics of the family and the life of the alcoholic. Armed with this knowledge, they will be better prepared for the events of day two.
All that was planned and agreed to on Day One is then carried out at this point, when the actual intervention takes place. And all the preparations will prove helpful.
There is nothing easy about making someone admit to a problem as difficult as alcoholism. More often than not, those involved will find themselves pulled in various directions of guilt, fear and love. With an interventionist present, there is an objective party who can ensure the process continues until the objective is met.
Finally, interventions should always be done with the oversight of a professional, someone who understands the risks involved in this type of confrontation. There is a much better chance of success when a professional is involved. They understand how to keep the intervention under control and moving in the right direction, and they can use their experience to push it toward the desired outcome, getting the loved one into a drug or alcohol intervention program.
The concept of intervention was first introduced by Vernon Johnson, a recovering alcoholic who decided to devote his life to getting other addicts the help they needed. Johnson’s most treasured belief was the fact that alcoholics did not have to hit rock bottom before they sought assistance. He thought family and friends could intervene before their lives became endangered or they did something with other, long-lasting consequences.
Johnson, an Episcopal priest in Minnesota, started his first intervention group at a church in 1962. He also founded The Johnson Institute, which offered employers assistance in helping to curb employees’ drinking problems. Johnson wrote several books espousing the benefits of treatment for alcoholism and interventions. The most famous is probably “I’ll Quit Tomorrow,” a 1973 volume that has been in print for decades.
Johnson’s alcohol and drug addiction intervention methods have always been controversial. Some claim that while interventions are a good way to convince people to get treatment, they do not have long-term benefits. They say those who are convinced by alcohol and drug intervention programs to seek treatment are no more likely to kick their habit than those who decide to enter rehab without an intervention and commit themselves voluntarily. Of course, this is difficult to prove because there are very few statistics on the recovery of alcoholics and drug addicts who have experienced interventions.
In fact, there are many good reasons to choose an alcohol and drug addiction intervention. Though everyone’s family situation is different, here are four reasons why an intervention may be the right choice for you and your loved one:
You suspect that your loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol, but you are not completely sure. If you have been noticing signs, that is a good indication a problem is there. Many addicts try to hide their substance abuse issues and these problems only start to become apparent when the person struggling with addiction begins to get sloppy, no longer bothering to hide telltale signs of drug or alcohol abuse. These may include:
|Signs May Include|
|Erratic behavior||Inability to show up on time|
|Bloodshot eyes||Blowing off family unexpectedly|
|Sudden weight loss||Absences at work|
|Hanging out with new friends who also use drugs or alcohol|
Your loved one may be unaware, until you start discussing drug and alcohol intervention programs, that drug or alcohol use is changing his or her behavior. In fact, many addicts bristle when you suggest they are showing any differences at all. They may appear listless, defensive or forgetful — all indicators of alcohol and drug addiction.
You should not move forward with an alcohol and drug treatment intervention until you are very sure your loved one has a problem. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating or upsetting your loved one if they are really just distracted about work, upset over a recently ended relationship, or any number of other reasons that might alter their behavior. Talk to their friends and other family members to see if others are observing the same behavior irregularities you are. Document incidences of drug and alcohol abuse to get a clearer picture of how often they are relying on substances.
If you want to stage an intervention, it is absolutely essential you work with a trained professional. Interventions are not tea parties. They can be unpleasant, volatile, confrontational and scary for everyone involved. You need an impartial observer to make sure you stay on the right track and are working toward the goal of getting your loved one into an alcohol or drug intervention program.
It is very possible the individual struggling with addiction will be defensive when confronted. The intervention specialist can help the person work through hostility or suspicion. They can also remind loved ones to express their support and compassion, so that it does not become a toxic, accusational environment.
Seek out a specialist to help in your intervention. If you attempt to do it yourself, the drug and alcohol intervention program could go terribly wrong and you will compromise the chances that your loved one will get the treatment he or she so desperately needs.
It is important to go into an intervention with realistic expectations. You will not “cure” your loved one with one conversation. You may not even convince him or her to go into rehab. In fact, you may be met with outright anger.
It is also possible that the person struggling with addiction will be hurt by your attempt to help. The loved one may feel his or her addiction is under control and resent your insistence otherwise. Even if this happens, stand your ground. Remember, you are doing this for a reason. You have the best interests of your loved one at heart, even if he or she is in no state to recognize that right now.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind about the big day:
The day of the intervention will be incredibly emotional for all involved. Make sure you start the day off with a good breakfast and perhaps do some physical activity to get rid of the jitters. Then remember these do’s and don’ts as the intervention begins.
It can be incredibly scary to admit you have a problem with alcohol or drugs. Your loved one may need more than just a conversation to realize he or she has an issue that should be treated. By deciding to do an intervention, you are helping your loved one onto the path to recovery.
Clarity Way can help you find an intervention specialist who will help you to convince your loved one to seek help. Let us assist in finding the right person in your area who can meet with friends and family, and make sure your intervention goes as smoothly as possible. The more effective the intervention, the more likely your loved one will get the help he or she needs. Clarity Way will be there for you then, too.
Note: The pictures in this content are being used for illustrative purposes only; and any person depicted in the content, if any, is a model.
Posted on October 24th, 2014 in Help Blog