There used to be a time when the common practice of “helping” people with addiction problems was not through intervention but to wait for them to hit rock bottom and finally decide that they need to get their life together. The idea was for them to see how they ruined their lives because of their addiction that they themselves would seek help and enter a rehabilitation centre willingly.
While this may sound like a plan that could work, it is important to note that addiction is not simply a person making bad choices one after another, and hoping that they’d wake up one day and realize that they need to get treated.
Addiction is a chronic disease that needs to be addressed immediately and not wait for the person to ruin their lives completely. Their addiction is punishment in itself and they don’t need further suffering. Help is what they need.
What is an Intervention for Addiction?
An intervention for addiction is a process wherein a person’s loved ones such as their family and friends come together to talk to them. Intervention specialists and counsellors can also be present during the intervention to make it easier for everyone to express their thoughts and feelings.
During the intervention, the group can tell the person about how addiction has been affecting everyone. This is not to say the group will start blaming them for their actions and their effects. Neither is it about shaming the person. Rather, it is effectively communicating their concern about the person’s well-being as well as everyone else’s.
In the intervention, those who have a loving and sincere relationship with a person with an addiction can participate. This can include their parents, siblings, children, friends, and significant others. The group may also choose to invite a professional specialist who can handle intervention for drug addiction. This may be a counsellor who can provide everyone with the right information on how to proceed with an intervention for a loved one.
Many families are not aware of the intervention process including the way it works and what it can do for everyone. It is commonly thought that intervention happens when a counsellor visits the home of a person with the addiction and then inspires them to seek treatment. For many, they’ve already lost hope for their loved one and believes that they can’t do anything about it anymore. But intervention is more than all these.
Interventions are not simply getting your loved one to be convinced that they need treatment. Families don’t have to wait until the life of their loved one is completely ruined before they intervene. Many people with drug use problems do not ask for help not because they don’t want it but it is that they are ashamed of their addiction and what has become of them. This is something that their families need to understand.
Addiction as a Family Problem
With addiction, everyone connected to the person with drug use problems becomes affected. Often, the family is hit the hardest. The person with an addiction may be in denial and think that there’s nothing wrong with their behaviour and drug use but their families are acutely aware that there’s a big problem brewing.
If the person with addiction needs to be treated so they can start to work on the things and relationships they’ve ruined, their families need to heal as well. An intervention that has been done effectively and successfully is the start of this healing process. But before the intervention can take place, here are some of the things that the family can do and talk about.
- Identify if they’ve been enabling their loved one.
- Learn how they can break the codependent relationship with the person with addiction problems.
- Talk about how they feel such as their anger, shame, judgment, and guilt.
- Prepare about the things to say and not to say during the intervention.
- Identify the ways that they can support the person before, during, and after the drug addiction treatment.
The intervention is a powerful tool for families to feel that they still have the power to help their loved one who has addiction problems. It is a starting point for everyone to try and mend what has been broken by the addiction.
Supporting a Loved One with Addiction Problems
Oftentimes, family members of a person with addiction end up nurturing codependent relationships with them. The family, of course, does not mean to be enablers of their loved one’s addiction. They care and love the person so much that sometimes, they think they’re helping but in reality, they’re actually supporting the addiction itself. It’s important that families understand how to properly support their loved one without supporting the addictive behaviours.
The ways to withdraw such unhealthy kinds of support are through intervention for addiction and treatment. Gradually, a much healthier kind of support from the family can take place. Families have to understand that it’s not just their loved one with addiction who has to change. Everyone involved should change as well, especially their behaviour toward their loved one.
Codependent relationships are relationships where people depend on one another in providing something. This is actually a kind of addiction in itself; an emotional addiction. And families of people with drug or alcohol use problems need help getting out of this kind of relationship.
Codependency is not just about giving financial support or providing resources to a person with an addiction. There are times that what is being given are emotional needs. A person with an addiction may require from their family to feel that they are worthy of being loved. In turn, the family may feel that they need to make them feel loved.
In this case, love is then expressed by giving in and providing the person what they want and not what they need, which is treatment from their addiction. For anyone who has a loved one with an addiction, this is going to be difficult because the reality is that they will be hated for some time until such point that the person with addiction problems has realized that ending the codependent relationship has been for their own good.
Family and friends of a person with drug use problems may show their love through supporting whatever may help them to recover such as professional treatment and rehabilitation. It may be tough to see them suffer especially when they’re going through withdrawal but this will be for them to have another chance at a good life.
What is Needed in an Intervention?
Perhaps the most difficult part of the intervention is getting everyone involved to be in agreement on what has to be done for their loved one with an addiction. The family should be able to make their loved one understand that he or she has to be accountable for every action relating to his or her drug use.
Getting your loved one to realize and accept that they need treatment is much easier compared to gathering the whole family for the needed intervention. There are so many different views and opinions about addiction from everyone in the group that it would be better to have an addiction specialist who can explain the facts so that there will be a common understanding about addiction and what can be done to help their loved one.
People with addiction problems often resort to alcohol or drug use to make their life seem more comfortable to them. This affects their loved ones who suffer from their actions. With intervention, the families of these people can gain control in a more loving but not in a confrontational manner. Professional interventionists can also help in making sure that the person with an addiction is at ease with the treatment options being presented during the intervention.
An intervention is not just talking to the person regarding their addiction and trying to get them to accept that they need treatment. It is, more importantly, understanding that everyone has to change somehow, not just the person with an addiction. During an intervention, family members should not lecture or air out the complaint they have for the person and where the communication seems to be just one-way. It should be an opportunity for openness where everyone can talk and understand each other.
An Addiction Intervention for the Whole Family
Families may feel that they do not need a professional to be present during the intervention. Besides, it’s a family matter, isn’t it? Why should a stranger be there? What families need to understand is that the interventionist is not there to intrude but to help make the intervention successful. Where families fail to reach out to their loved one with an addiction, the interventionist can point out why the previous methods did not work. He or she can then offer a solution that can.
When an intervention happens, it’s not just for the person with an addiction. It is for the whole family. What needs to be understood is that even when an addict agrees to undergo treatment, when they come home to a family that didn’t change, it will only be a matter of time that they can be manipulated into codependent relationships where enabling behaviours will support the drug or alcohol use again. Families need to accept that while their intentions are good, it is best that they don’t do the intervention by themselves. Everyone will benefit from having a professional interventionist on board.
Related article: What Parents Can Do About Children with Drug Addiction?
How to Know that an Intervention is Necessary
Addiction belongs under chronic brain diseases where the person addicted have compulsive drug use and drug-seeking behaviours even if they know that there are harmful consequences. If the person cannot control the drug problem anymore and have no signs of wanting to get treatment, then intervention may be necessary. Here are some of the common signs loved ones should watch out for if the person is struggling with their addiction.
- Diminished interests in hobbies or activities that they used to enjoy.
- Poor performance at work such as tardiness or absences.
- Financial difficulties such as needing to borrow money from family and friends.
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Weight fluctuations, tremors, bad breath, poor hygiene, and bloodshot eyes.
- Anger management issues such as constantly being in arguments or fights.
There are a number of people with addiction who also suffer from mental health issues which should be addressed. It is common for drug problems to be related to mental health problems. If the person doesn’t seem to be aware that there is an issue with their actions and behaviours already and the signs of addiction are present, then it’s time for the family to step in and conduct an intervention.
Families should understand that if mental illness is present, the use of alcohol or drugs may be the person’s way to self-medicate. They may not realize that they’re getting addicted already and that they are changing for the worse. An intervention is necessary to get them the help that they need for their addiction and their mental condition.
How Interventions Work
The primary step when it comes to arranging an intervention is to know if the person is already doing steps to seek help. Know if they are already talking to a counsellor about their addiction problems. If they are, the family can talk to the counsellor but not about the specifics of their sessions with the person with an addiction. It is prohibited for the counsellor to divulge such information. However, he or she may help the family to determine if an intervention is needed at this time already. They may be asked to take part in the process of intervention.
The intervention ought to take place somewhere that the person with addiction problems will feel safe. Not only that, but everyone involved should also feel that space is neutral and conducive to communicating with each other. For example, children should be cared for in another place when the intervention is happening.
Before the intervention happens, the group should be able to receive adequate information and understand what should and shouldn’t be done during the process. Often, the topic that emerges during the intervention would be the wrong things that the person with an addiction has done. It’s going to be easy for people to express their hurt and anger at that point. This will certainly not help the process.
The intervention is not the time to be angry at the person. Rather, it is an opportunity to express love and support for him or her. To make sure that the intervention will flow smoothly, each of the family members and friends should prepare what they want to say to their loved one with an addiction. They can do this by writing it down. Here are some of the things that they can include.
- How they were affected by the person’s addictions.
- The changes they have observed in the person’s behaviours.
- What they’re hopes are for the person after completing treatment.
- Expressions of their love and support for the person.
The last step in preparing for intervention is finding a rehabilitation centre where the person with addiction problems can be admitted once he or she agrees to do so. It would be better if the individual can be admitted to the rehab facility immediately.
How can an Intervention for Addiction Help?
The goal of an intervention is to get the person with an addiction to realize that they need help. Once they agree to it, they can then be admitted to a rehab program which may be an inpatient treatment centre.
The intervention is not meant to be a venue for the group to gang up and push the person in a corner until he or she surrenders. It is a way to make the person see that everyone is being affected by the addiction and that it has to stop.
The intervention for addiction can help the person to see that there have been negative effects of their behaviour in their lives as well as those of their loved ones. Apart from that, the intervention can open the communication channels between the person and his or her family and friends. Love and support can be expressed to the individual. This is a chance for the person to see that they are not alone in their struggle with their addiction. Their loved ones are there willing to help them recover and live a better life.
The intervention can help the family and friends of a person with addiction by making them understand more about drug and alcohol use. They will also be able to solidify their commitment to helping their loved one get rid of the addiction. Unity among the loved ones of the person can also be achieved through the intervention.
Intervention is the first step for the person with an addiction to starting recovery. Much of the work will still be ahead during the treatment and after it. But for the time being, the family should concentrate on having an effective and successful intervention.
When to Seek Professional Intervention
Many families have tried and failed to fix the addiction problems themselves. If you have someone you love who is suffering from addiction, you may have tried several times to help them get treatment. You know very well that it’s a difficult task.
With professional intervention, a counsellor is present so that there can be a person who can facilitate the discussion. This ensures that the person with addiction problems will not be harmed by anger, blame, guilt, or shame.
The family has to be united when it comes to holding their loved one accountable for the actions caused by their addiction. The intervention specialist can help everyone involved to process their feelings so that they can understand that anger or blaming the person won’t help with the addiction.
Benefits of Intervention for Addiction
“I can stop anytime I want.”
This is a common statement of people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Denial is one of the biggest challenges of addiction. They have a distorted perception of reality giving them a powerful conviction that they do not have a problem, that it is the rest of the world that needs to be fixed. For this reason, it is hard for loved ones to challenge them on their addictions and ask them to seek help.
This doesn’t stop friends and family members from trying, though. It can be excruciatingly painful to see a loved one turning into a stranger who lies, steals and behaves aggressively. But hope is part of the human condition. The family members of addicts are driven by the belief that they can get back the person they know and love, the person who is drowning in addiction and destructive behaviour.
The problem, of course, is that the addiction and destructive behaviour ruins relationships and destroys trust. These relationships can be damaged further by the family’s well-meaning attempts to help. The addict, not being of sound mind, can feel as if he or she is under attack. The friends and family members can feel that their concerns are not being heard. Even interactions that start well can degenerate into ugly confrontations between multiple people, ending in many hurt feelings and a person suffering from addiction who storms out and copes with the stress by getting more drugs or alcohol.
Professional interventions are typically used as a last resort, when the addict has repeatedly rejected help and when family relationships have reached a breaking point. They do appear to work and having a professionally run intervention increases the likelihood of the addict entering a treatment program.
At a professional intervention, close friends and family members take turns to tell the addict how his or her behaviour is impacting them. They might describe the effects on their finances, their children, their jobs, or their relationships with each other and with the addict. They usually end with a plea for the addict to seek help.
The intervention is mediated by a neutral professional, typically a therapist or an interventionist. This individual keeps the discussion under control and ensures that everyone – including the individual – has their say. People with addiction who accept help usually enter treatment fairly quickly. Sometimes they are escorted to an addiction treatment centre by the mediator immediately after the intervention.
There are several factors that contribute to the success of a professional intervention. One of them is simply the presence of a neutral third party. In an emotionally charged situation where relationships have deteriorated, a mediator can diffuse potential conflicts and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard.
Families on their own are less inhibited in how they express themselves. They speak more freely and impulsively, and their exchanges can become impassioned. There is potential for misunderstandings and hurt feelings. When a stranger is present, the dynamic is usually very different. People choose their words more carefully, they are more open to listening objectively, and there is a greater balance between reason and emotion.
All of this leads to great possibilities, not only for the person who has the addiction but for his or her close friends and family members. A well-run intervention gives everyone involved the opportunity to communicate without putting further strain on relationships that may already be damaged. It opens the doors for healing: the person with an addiction can start the process of addiction recovery, the loved ones can start paying attention to their own needs which have been neglected, and everyone can begin the process of mending their relationships and looking ahead to a better future.
How to Prepare an Intervention for a Loved One
Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is paralyzingly painful. We often find ourselves frozen, unable to determine the best way to approach the situation and provide help with our loved one’s needs.
One of the best skills to develop under the circumstance is how to stage an intervention, such that you are able to truly reach the individual in a way which touches their heart and provokes a desire for change.
Doing so is no simple task, and the sensitivity of the situation can add a lot of pressure to getting it done just right. To assist you in this endeavour, we here at Addiction Rehab Toronto have compiled a list of helpful tips on how to stage an intervention for a person with addiction needing help.
Choosing the Right People and Time
Learning how to pick your team and time is an elementary step in mastering how to stage an intervention. It’s important to remember that the goal of the gathering is to remind your loved one that they are supported by a network of close and loving people, who would only act in that individual’s best interests.
That’s why we recommend that only family and very close friends are involved. Including others who lack a meaningful relationship with the person can make the individual feel uncomfortable and overwhelming, proving counterproductive in persuading them to make the needed lifestyle change.
It is also critical that the subject is approached during a sober moment, to prevent any dangerously impulsive reaction. This allows your loved one to better register the points that you are making, and possibly reach an agreement with you.
Finding A Neutral Space
When planning how to stage an intervention, you should always look for a neutral place in which to hold the occasion. Though your loved one’s comfort is a high priority during this time, it is also important to prevent any chance of them walking away from the situation.
Holding an intervention at home may be appealing due to the simplicity and familiarity of the location, but it provides your loved one with an escape in the case that he/she is unhappy with the content of the conversation. Instead, opt for someplace such as a therapist’s office, where everyone tends to behave. Another common intervention spot you may want to consider is a church or other religious building.
Practice What You Want to Say
The key to how to stage an intervention is to practice the content and delivery of this difficult conversation. Not only will a strong, fluent delivery of your speech indicate the gravity of the matter, but it will also help you solidify your thoughts.
In any highly emotional situation, nerves and feelings tend to take over, causing us to deviate from the articulate script we had planned for the occasion. Rehearsal simply helps ensure that in a sensitive moment, you will still remember everything there was to say regarding the matter and are able to stand behind your points. It also allows you to run possible responses by the person with addiction problems, and how you would handle each one. Your loved one doesn’t have to fight this battle alone. You can always help.
What to do After an Intervention?
After planning that an intervention is necessary to help a loved one with their addiction problems, it is also important that the family knows what to do next after the intervention is over. It’s common that families become too focused on preparing for the intervention that they end up not planning for the next steps.
When families ask the help of an interventionist, they can be assisted from planning to the intervention up to the treatment of their loved one. Also, support for the aftercare is also ensured. Here are some of the steps that families can take when planning for the next steps after an intervention.
Creating a Recovery Plan
As mentioned earlier, intervention is just the first step. The family along with the interventionist have to plan for the recovery of the individual with addiction problems. If all goes well during the intervention, the family needs to be ready to admit the person into a rehab facility. Apart from that, the family also has to prepare for the many challenges that lie ahead on the way to recovery.
Addiction can affect a family really hard. That’s why it’s important for them to know the way that the intervention should be handled. They should also be ready for the next phases after the intervention. The family needs to understand that they have an important role when it comes to their loved one’s recovery from addiction.
What to do when the Intervention is not Successful
The moment with the biggest impact on the person with addiction during the intervention would most likely be when they realize that their family will no longer enable them and support their harmful behaviours. An intervention is not successful if any of the following happens.
- Your loved one promises that they will get help “soon.”
- If they will say that they will enter treatment if they are provided with money.
- If they only enter a rehab program because of a criminal conviction and only does it out of compliance.
- The person manipulates family and friends that he or she is ready for treatment but fails to push through with it.
When these signs are present, then the person with addiction problems is most likely too consumed with their addiction that they no longer see the real impact of their behaviour. Their loved ones want to trust and believe in them; they hope for the best. That’s why they become blind to the manipulation as well.
If the person refuses to submit to treatment, it is vital that the group will stand firm with their promises to no longer enable their loved one and cut their codependent relationship with them. Do what has to be done so that the addiction can be addressed.
How to Stop Being an Enabler
Many families don’t know that they are actually enabling their loved one who has addiction problems. They don’t realize it but they could be helping the person in maintaining bad and harmful habits. When the person is protected from experiencing the consequences of their actions, that is enabling as well. Here are some of the common examples of enabling a person.
- Paying their bills since they’ve spent their resources on their vices. Even if you can afford to do this, you have to understand that the individual has to assume his or her responsibilities as an adult.
- Doing household chores like doing the laundry or washing clothes. Your loved one may have been neglecting the daily responsibilities at home. They may not even take care of themselves anymore. While it pains you to see them like this, resist the temptation to help them this way.
- When you make excuses on behalf of the person with an addiction, you are also enabling them. You may have contacted their employer and made up an excuse about why they’ve haven’t been showing up at work.
- When you give them money, that is a way of supporting their addiction. You know where the money will go. If they are asking them for help on paying a bill, then it would be better off if you pay it directly. But then again, go back to the first tip and stop helping them with their financial responsibilities.
Our conclusion is: Yes, intervention works for drug addiction.
An intervention for addiction is an important step toward recovery. It will help not just the person with addiction but the whole family as well. It would be best to ask the help of a professional interventionist or counsellor to help the family in dealing with this difficult phase in their lives. Conflicts and other issues may be addressed in healthier and constructive ways.
While the individual is in rehab, the family may attend counselling sessions so that their issues may be resolved. The interventionist can certainly help the family in uncovering the stressors that have played a part in the person’s addiction. Each case of addiction varies from the next. There are different challenges that every family with addiction problems face. With the help of an interventionist, an effective plan can be created so that the individual and the family can heal and recover together.
Related article: How to Overcome Common Challenges During Drug Addiction Recovery