When someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, it’s difficult to know how you can help. Sometimes, having a direct, heart-to-heart conversation with that person can be the turning point for them to seek the help they need. Unfortunately, when it comes to addiction, that is often not the case. Denial and fear are two fundamental components of substance abuse, and when someone is in the midst of active addiction, it is difficult for them to see the destruction caused by their choices and behaviors.
Considering these challenges, a more focused approach is often needed to help someone you love. A formal intervention organized by a team of professionals has been proven to be extremely beneficial in situations such as these.
Those who struggle with an addiction may be unable to recognize or acknowledge their illness or may be unwilling to seek treatment. Oftentimes, denial stands in the way of seeing how badly their disease has impacted themselves, their loved ones and their lives.
If this is the case for your loved one, an intervention may be the solution for your family. During the structured setting of an intervention, the addicted person is presented with the opportunity to acknowledge how their substance abuse has negatively affected themselves and those they love. More importantly, they are given the chance to get the help they need to overcome their battle with addiction.
During the early stages of preparing for an intervention, the significant people in the addicted person’s life meet together to learn facts regarding addiction. During the intervention, they will each have the opportunity to acknowledge the disease and share with the addicted person how it has negatively impacted their lives. Intervention is an extremely effective tool for helping both the addict and the participants get the help they need and engage in the recovery process.
With the skilled, calm and empathetic guidance of a trained interventionist, who is also included in the meeting, individuals closest to the addicted person can learn facts about the “problem” and then present loving, non-judgmental, information to the addict/alcoholic. It is important that the group confront the addict/alcoholic directly and speak in clear terms about how the addiction is affecting them and the family. Furthermore, it is equally important to address what their substance abuse will ultimately lead to in the future.
Information discussed during an intervention should always focus on that participant’s concern and love for the individual, rather than on blame or anger. This process is non-punitive, and the identified patient should never be asked to do penance for past actions, behaviors, or misdeeds. The group should also be prepared to share with and remind the addict that they love them but hate the disease.
It is important that the assembled members clearly explain that they will no longer look away from or enable the addiction and the negative behaviors associated with the disease. When this information is shared by a unified group of caring individuals, the addicted person is often able to accept an offer of help.
Through the utilization of highly trained interventionists, the usual format of an intervention includes:
- Proposal/Consultation | The process begins when a family member or friend proposes the possibility of an intervention and enlists the help of a trained interventionist, addictions specialist, psychologist, or other behavioral health professional. An intervention can be a highly charged situation with the potential of anger and resentment arising, so it is imperative to always seek the help of professionals.
- Develop a Plan | After you have consulted a professional, it is time to develop a plan. Decide who will participate in the intervention, and set a date, time, and location of where the intervention will take place.
- Gather Information | Before proceeding with an intervention, it is important to understand the extent of your loved one’s substance use disorder, as well as research side effects, symptoms, prognosis, and treatment options. With the help of an interventionist, the family may plan to enroll the addicted person in a specific treatment program, if and/or when the intervention is successful.
- Decide on Consequences | Each participant must be prepared to hold strong to the predetermined consequences if the individual refuses help. This is not to punish the addict, but to no longer enable the disease. For example, if your loved one refuses help, you may decide to no longer give them money or allow them to live in your home. (These decisions are entirely specific to the family and group of participants.)
- Determine What You Want to Say | Determine exactly what you want to say to the addicted person, describing how their disease has negatively impacted themselves, their health, relationships, role within the family, etc… While discussing these topics, remember to do so in a caring and compassionate way, with the expectation that change is possible. It is important to always provide feedback based on facts not emotion, in an atmosphere of safety, kindness, dignity, and respect.
- Host the Intervention | Without revealing the reason, ask your loved one to meet with you at the decided location. The intervention should always be facilitated by a professional, who acts as a third-party mediator. During the intervention, participants take turns expressing their concerns and feelings to the individual. After each person has finished, present treatment options and growth opportunities to your loved one, offering the option of immediate help. If your loved one refuses help, it is time to present the consequences the group has previously decided upon, with the help of the facilitator. (Never present a consequence you are not fully prepared to follow through with.)
- Follow-Up | Follow-up is essential for both the group and identified patient. This can include family therapy, individual counseling and support groups for the participants, plus treatment for the addicted person. During this time, the family and other loved ones can learn about addiction, how their behaviors potentially play a role in the cycle of addiction and how to change negative patterns that are not conducive to long-term recovery.
If you are hoping to plan an intervention, it is important to choose your team wisely. Essentially, an intervention is a conversation in which people who love and care for the addict come together to persuade that person to get help. When you choose your team with care, it ensures that the person in the center of the conversation feels safe, and not attacked or ambushed.
Some things to consider when choosing intervention participants:
- Does this person play a significant role in my family member’s life?
- Do they have a genuine relationship?
- Does my loved one respect this person?
- Does the individual have a true interest in my family member’s wellbeing?
- Does my family member come to this person when in need, i.e. do they provide money, shelter, or otherwise enable the addiction?
- Will this person be able to hold firm lines and consequences if my family member refuses help?
Those who should not be included in an intervention:
- A person who your loved one dislikes
- Someone who has an unmanaged substance use or mental health disorder
- A person who actively uses drugs or alcohol with your loved one
- Someone who may not be able to limit what he or she says to what was agreed upon during the planning stage
- Someone who may sabotage the intervention
Oftentimes, a poorly planned intervention can worsen the situation between your loved one and the family dynamic. Seeking the help of a licensed professional will simply provide the best opportunity for a positive outcome.
When a professional is consulted to act as an intermediary, they will organize the most effective approach for the entire family. The interventionist will consider your loved one’s specific needs and circumstances, as addiction is multifaceted and affects each person differently. After careful assessment, the interventionist can then determine the best course of action including suggestions regarding the most proper treatment programming best suited for your loved one.
At Brookdale, we understand that while many people may need treatment for substance use disorder, they may not be able to recognize or acknowledge that they have a problem. If this is the case for someone you love, you are probably feeling hopeless, helpless and afraid for their well-being…but there is hope! With the help our highly trained professionals and licensed interventionists, we can provide your family the necessary resources to start the conversation about addiction treatment.
If you are interested in staging an intervention for a loved one, Brookdale’s team of experts are prepared to help, offering you guidance and support throughout the entire process. Our interventionists have several decades of experience helping families find recovery. Through compassion, empathy, dignity, and respect, we will work closely with your loved ones to create a safe environment, so the addicted person feels loved, understood, and supported.
When an intervention is performed properly with the help of a professional, your loved one will be much more likely to accept help, increasing their potential for a Life…Recovered.
To learn more about Brookdale or our Intervention Services please call us today at (855) 575-1292.