People suffering from addiction, who often need an intervention, have trouble coming to terms with the reality of their affliction. Many do not accept that they are affected by a mental disease. Even more refuse to acknowledge the severity of the problems that their dependence on substances creates. An intervention is a tried and true method for friends and families of addicts to encourage a loved one to seek treatment, and it is important they understand all the aspect of what's an intervention.
What’s an intervention
Intervention Definition: The act of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning).
An intervention is a carefully planned process by which friends and family of an addict may confront that person about their addiction. It involves meeting at a pre-arranged date and time and most often is done without letting the addict know until the moment it begins. Friends and family are then encouraged to express their feelings and concerns towards the afflicted person’s condition in a positive and structured manner. The most successful forms of intervention usually involve a large amount of forethought and careful planning towards structure, what people plan to say, and the next steps following the intervention.
Planning an intervention
-who should be there, when to do it
A family member or friend is often the first person to propose an intervention. Anytime an individual displays signs of addiction, it is worth considering whether or not to propose an intervention. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, as many as 6 in 10 individuals may be suffering from a combination of substance abuse and mental illness. Known as dual diagnoses, many individuals are unaware or unwilling to accept that they may be self medicating to treat an diagnosed condition.
How to stage an intervention
-steps & walk-through
An intervention should involve careful planning, preparation, and if possible, consultation with a qualified professional counselor or addiction specialist. This could include a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, and in some areas a licensed interventionist.
Identify the problem
If you suspect a loved one may be self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and is harming themselves, don’t hesitate. If it is an option, discuss the possibility of an intervention with friends and family close to the addict. Signs that someone may need an intervention include:
1. They have an unusually high tolerance
This could be anything from drinking a lot more alcohol than others to increasing their prescription medication dosage. If you suspect a person of uncontrolled addiction, they are likely in the midst of developing an increasing tolerance towards one or more of their drug of choice.
2. They display deceptive behavior on a regular basis
Addicts are often subconsciously ashamed of their reliance on self-medication. This can be manifested in trying to hide the physical evidence of their addiction, from empty bottles of alcohol to medication receipts, to hidden paraphernalia and so on. It can also involve disguising their true feelings about their addiction, and adopting an attitude that suggests they are strongly in control, when in fact they may not be.
3. They are often under the influence while at work, or in social settings
Eventually, if an addict’s disease progresses far enough, they will begin to self-medicate on a more regular basis to cope with the stress of reality. This can bleed over into the workplace and into social settings where the addict does not feel capable of handling without being intoxicated.
4. They have unexplained or directly correlated financial troubles
Addicts may be suffering from mild to extreme financial distress caused by their funding of their addiction. If an addict is wealthy, it is more difficult to ascertain, but eventually the cost of substance abuse catches up with everyone.
Make a plan
Consult with individuals close to the addict and form a planning group. If possible, seek assistance from addiction professionals. It is helpful to discuss the extent of the addict’s problem with those closest to them, and coming to a consensus as to whether the addict is in need of an intervention or not. Members involved should be those closest to the addict, and those who truly want to see the person get better. It’s also important to include people from the addicts expanded social circle, so that the person can recognize are far the problem extends.
Once the planning group is formed, figure out the best time and location for the intervention to take place. It’s important that the intervention take place in an environment where the addict will feel comfortable. Do not choose a location where the person will feel put on public display. The best venues to hold an intervention are places where it is convenient for all participants, comfortable for the addict, and that have privacy. Examples include a private home, a counselor’s office, conference room, or church.
From there, discuss the order that participants would like to speak in. It may be helpful to start with persons that have the most special relationship to the addict. However, the addict may already be used to hearing from those closest. One study from the academic journal of Substance Use and Misuse found that 56% of people who had addictions were confronted by their spouses about the issue, and 60% were confronted by family members. It could be effective for the addict to hear from members outside of their immediate family.
Hold an Intervention
When the date of the intervention arrives, it’s helpful to be with the addict during the day to ensure that they are not actively using. If an addict is intoxicated during an intervention, their ability to think and react is jeopardized. To avoid these issues, sometimes it is best to plan for an intervention in the morning so that the addict is sober and in control.
Have each member of the intervention group write down what they wish to say beforehand. It is important that a structure is followed and a positive, forthcoming environment is established. Make sure to:
Participants need to remember that this is ultimately coming from a place of love and concern. Interventions often involve the exchange of intense feelings and views that may have been kept suppressed. By keeping tempers under control you reduce the chances of the addict walking our or getting involved in an altercation.
Stick to the Structure
Stick to the agreed upon structure of the intervention so that no one participant feels they are unfairly left out or minimized. By sticking to the planned out script, participants will also be able to cover the range of concerns that they have without forgetting anything. Possible topics could include:
- Expressing love and concern for the addict’s well being
- Specific examples of destructive behavior the addict has displayed
- Specific examples of how the addicts behavior has negatively affected those around them
- Specific statements of how friends and family are willing to support the addict to recover
- Outlining boundaries that friends and family are unwilling to cross to continue enabling
- Information about treatment options available
Have an After-plan
One of the most important aspects of the intervention is the follow-up. As many recovering addicts can attest to, the most important part of recovery is changing patterns and avoiding destructive behaviors down the road, not just overcoming the initial hurdle of quitting. For that reason, it’s important to have a plan in place for the addict’s next steps. This could be anything from planning to enter into a residential treatment center, detox, intensive outpatient program, or therapy. It’s important to hold a person accountable after an intervention, and make sure they are not making false promises.
Be Prepared for Failure
Addiction is not a rational disease. While it may be obvious to everyone else that there is a problem, an addict’s brain can become warped by the influence that substance abuse wreaks upon the psyche.
Substance abuse intervention strategies
- Rehearse beforehand
- Stick to the specific order agreed upon
- Be positive and forthcoming, but firm and resolute
- Have a follow up plan
- Have a backup plan
What not to do at an intervention
- Don’t harass the addict
- Don’t confront the addict when they are under the influence
- Don’t carry out the intervention without proper planning
If you’re seeking help organizing an intervention for a loved one, don’t hesitate to seek out the assistance of trained professionals. If you’re looking for alcohol rehab in Kentucky, Landmark Recovery provides drug & and alcohol recovery centers in Louisville, KY that help addicts take the first steps towards achieving and maintaining sobriety. Our caring staff is trained in residential treatment, individual and group therapy, as well as intensive outpatient and detox treatment.