Family Intervention

The confusion of addiction“My sister-in-law was on a downward spiral and didn’t have much time before she either killed herself or someone else. She had run out of options and her family and friends felt helpless”

This is a common story. Everyone around an addict knows they need help, yet, typically the addict can’t see it. Many die that way.  Interventions Plus provides the family with information and support about the intervention process.

“If it wasn’t for my family getting an interventionist involved, I would not be alive today. I was searching for a way out, but my addiction had a hold on my life.  I am forever grateful to my family, for the opportunity to change my life.”

How does the addict react to pressure?

The addict doesn’t have the same reality about their addiction non-addicts might. They may have health problems, few friends, no job or income but feel they are “doing OK”. Many addicts have overdosed on drugs, coming very close to death and are right back using drugs the next day.

The addict will encounter added pressure, which forces them to make an actual decision about whether to seek help or continue to use.

Pending legal charges that could easily lead to jail time, threat of losing a spouse and potential job loss, all are possible situations where a person has enough pressure to fight the addiction and seek help. It is easy to assume the addict is only seeking help to avoid jail or some other evaluation, which in many cases, is true. The fact remains an addict will only seek help when someone or something pushes him out of his “addiction comfort zone” and forces him into a decision. Very few addicts with access to money, a place to live, people who agree with his usage and no legal issues seek help. They “don’t have a problem”.

This is very important to understand and will be crucial in any attempt at intervention.

When should an intervention take place?

The timing of an intervention is crucial and needs planning but at the same time an addict’s life is very unstable so opportunities present themselves reasonably frequently.

The optimum time for an intervention is after a major event in the addict’s life. . This could be an arrest, overdose or when the addict shows remorse or guilt after lying, stealing. Another would be a spouse leaving. An intervention will be exponentially more effective after such events, when the addict is down and feels their world is coming to an end.

An intervention can be successful if the family knows the details of the addict’s life. An addict’s life is a major roller coaster. The only way an addict can deny their problem is to successfully hide problems from those who love them.

A major consideration should be when the addict is sober. With cocaine, meth- amphetamine use this is in the morning after the addict has slept. In the case of heroin or methadone or opiate type drugs, it will be when they are withdrawing and not high. In either case attempting an intervention while a person is extremely high will usually not be productive because the addict cannot see many of their problems and their attention will fix elsewhere.

Who should be there?

Helping handA crucial decision is who will be at the intervention. The number of people is less important than who is there.  This should be well thought out beforehand.

The person the addict respects the most should be there.  As many family members as possible should be included the key being  each and every one are completely in agreement with the fact the addict needs help. Those in attendance must be supportive of the general agenda. If someone in the family is antagonistic toward the addict and not capable of restraining themselves from arguments and blame, then consider not including them.

Arguments that are agitated and disturbing will not benefit the goal of getting the addict to seek treatment.  In fact, they will usually result in preventing the addict accepting help, because the focus of attention shifts on the argument and not treatment.

What do we say to the addict?

“We love you, we’ve always loved you, we’ll never stop loving you but we’re not willing to watch you kill yourself”

The tone should be concern. The intention should be clear and unwavering.

The family should express concern but not sympathize with the addict. Sympathy is a form of agreement and can back fire by justifying the addiction.

Without anger or fear, those present need to tell the addict they know the situation and know the addict needs help.

Don‘t allow stories of family problems and life’s troubles to distract from the bottom line; the addict has a problem and needs to seek help to fix it.

What is Plan B?

girl-in-cornerYou must accept the fact that ultimately the addict may, for whatever reason say “NO”.

If the intervention fails, the addict is still an addict.  Statistically the situation will likely get worse not better. At this point, the message the family gives the addict t is critical.

This scenario needs to be thought out in advance, so the family can effectively move to the proverbial – Plan B.

By refusing to seek treatment the addict is saying; “I want to continue to use drugs. I want my family to keep suffering.  I want to control my own life.” The family has two choices.

If the reaction is disappointment and the family and carries on as usual, then the addict gets the message it is OK to continue their current life style and will put up even more resistance to intervention in the future having defeated the intervention team previously.

However, if the family says, “We understand, but please leave. We will not support you. Do not expect any money or support unless you decide to get help.” The addict is then left to run their life. They generally do not have the ability to do, and before long the addict “DECIDES” treatment is the best thing and calls asking for help.

There are certain risks involved with either approach which should be examined beforehand.  The one certainty is as long as the addict continues to use, they risk the only one thing they have; their life.

An addict needs to decide, for whatever reason, they need help. It is often the family who recognizes a key event and uses it to an advantage, as a way to have the addict decide to seek help. Most “locked down” approaches fail because the addict is not part of the recovery. The only way an addict can fight against their addiction is when enough external pressure is applied to cause them to decide to quit.

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