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Are You Planning an Intervention for Drug Abuse? Here is a Step by Step Guide

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD By September 30, 2019

There is nothing quite like the pain you feel when you know a loved one is suffering. Watching someone you care about become overtaken by a sickness they can’t control can make one feel overwhelmed and overcome with fear. It’s difficult to know how to stage an intervention for drug abuse or alcoholism. Knowing how to help your loved ones can be very challenging.

This is a feeling that many families know all too well. Individuals throughout the country are suffering from the disease of addiction. Their loved ones often watch helplessly as their family members or friends struggle with alcoholism or drug abuse.

Perhaps, this is what you’ve been going through. Maybe a sibling, spouse, child, parent, or close friend of yours is dealing with a substance use problem. If so, you may be wondering how or even if you can help. Thankfully, you can.

Helping Your Loved One Through an Intervention

When a friend or family member is struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse, it can be hard for everyone involved. Often, individuals are fully aware of the intensity of their substance use problem and may seek professional help as soon as they possibly can.

But, there are other situations in which people who abuse drugs or alcohol do not fully see the consequences of their substance use. In these circumstances, individuals may opt against getting treatment. They may decide against it for various reasons.

Some people do not get treatment because they feel ashamed or embarrassed about asking for help. It can be difficult to admit that you need help with something that has gotten out of control in your life. 

Those who suffer from addiction may also struggle with the uncertainties of going through treatment and living without substance use. Unfortunately, there are also cases in which people do not feel the need to move past addiction.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a person in any of these cases is to stage and carry out an intervention for drug abuse or intervention for alcohol abuse. 

What is an Intervention and Who is Involved?

An addiction intervention is a meeting that is designed to bring an addiction problem to the attention of an addicted individual. In other words, when people intervene, they work to help a friend or family member realize the truth about their addiction problem and encourage the individual to get help for addiction.

Ideally, an intervention involves an addicted individual, his or her family members and/or friends, and at least one therapist or counselor to facilitate the conversation and offer professional advising throughout the intervention process. 

Interventions are not meant to be confrontational or harsh settings in which an addicted person is forced to listen. Instead, an intervention should be a conversation that is filled with love and understanding while still allowing individuals to be truthful about how the addiction problem is affecting the individual and all those around him or her.

The ultimate purpose of an addiction intervention is to encourage your loved one to get help for his or her substance abuse problem. The goal is to point an addicted individual in the direction of professional drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation. 

Interventions also provide a place where individuals can safely and comfortably express their emotions and feelings regarding their loved one’s addiction problem. This can be helpful in encouraging the individual to get help for their substance abuse. 

How Do I Know If An Intervention Is Necessary?

When it comes to substance abuse and addiction, it’s not always easy to know exactly what to do about these issues. It can be difficult for families and friends to come up with the best course of action in dealing with a loved one’s drug or alcohol problem.

Often, approaching the subject is far from comfortable. Addressing the problem, especially to the addicted individual, does not always prove to be beneficial or productive. So, how should people approach this problem in order to find a true solution? How can individuals work to help their loved ones to overcome substance use problems in their lives?

One of the ways in which families can help is to perform an intervention. Again, addiction interventions can help people to persuade addicted loved ones to get help for alcoholism or drug addiction. But, how does one know if an intervention is really necessary? These meetings can take a lot of time to coordinate and arrange. So, it’s best to know whether or not it’s needful before planning an intervention. 

It may be helpful to know some signs that might indicate that your loved one has gotten to the point where he or she needs an intervention in order to see the truth and severity of their problem.

Is it Time to Intervene?

You and your family may need to consider an intervention for alcohol abuse or an intervention for drug abuse if:

  • Your loved one becomes defensive whenever you mention his/her substance use habits.
  • The individual continuously asks to “borrow” money and has trouble with financial responsibility. It’s likely that he or she is spending funds on drugs and/or alcohol.
  • The person often seems to be uncharacteristically aggressive or confrontational. 
  • Your friend or family member tends to lack motivation, energy, or excitement on a regular basis.
  • There has been an increase in health issues in your loved one’s life.
  • Your loved one has been struggling to hold a job or excel in school. 
  • He or she has been avoiding or forgetting about important obligations, responsibilities, assignments, events, and so forth.
  • The individual is spending more time with a new crowd or even in isolation. 
  • Your friend or family member is lacking in good hygiene practices and often has a disheveled or an otherwise deteriorated appearance.

If you have noticed any of these issues in the life of your friend or family member, it’s likely that an intervention for drug abuse or alcoholism is necessary. It’s important, however, to find out how to best conduct an intervention before carrying it out. There are a few things you should keep in mind when intervening, including some actions that you should avoid.

What You Should Avoid During an Intervention for Drug Abuse

During an intervention for drug abuse or alcohol abuse, there are some behaviors and actions that may actually cause the process to be completely ineffective. So, it is helpful to be aware of these things as you prepare for an intervention. You and your team should avoid:

  • Choosing the wrong time. It might not be helpful to approach your addicted loved one when he or she is drunk or high. 
  • Choosing the wrong place. Avoid uncomfortable or unfamiliar environments.
  • Placing or implying blame. Making your loved one feel guilty will not help to encourage him or her to get help. It may only lead to shame and cause the individual to withdraw or become defensive. Also, avoid placing blame on yourself or anyone else. Your loved one’s addiction is not anyone’s fault. But, you can all work together to help end the problem.
  • Being unprepared. Of course, it’s important for each individual of the intervention team to speak from the heart. But, it is also important to be clear and concise, eliminating ineffective or irrelevant conversations. It may be helpful to hold a few rehearsals to figure out what should be discussed during the initial intervention meeting.
  • Making empty promises or statements. If you tell your loved one that you will help him or her get into a treatment program, follow through. If you say that you will no longer enable addictive behaviors, follow through. And if you say that you will have to separate from the individual for the sake of your own peace should the individual decide not to get help, follow through.

Staging an Effective Intervention for Drug Abuse

Now that you are aware of some of the things you should avoid in order to stage an intervention that is effective, it is time to learn the steps of carrying out a productive intervention for your loved one who is suffering from addiction. 

Step 1:

First, you will need to find a professional intervention specialist who can be a part of your intervention team and give you meaningful guidance and information throughout this process.

Step 2:

Develop your team. This group should consist of people who care about and love the individual who is suffering from addiction. Each one should be prepared to speak with the addicted individual in a caring, compassionate manner. Be sure that these are people the person already trusts. Your intervention specialist may be able to help you select the right people for the task.

Step 3: 

Select the right time and place. Be sure to choose a place where you, your intervention team, and perhaps most importantly, the addicted individual will feel comfortable. An unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable place may cause your addicted loved one to feel threatened, afraid, or even attacked.

Step 4:

Determine the end result of your intervention. The goal is to encourage your friend or family member to enter rehab for addiction. So, be sure to have a treatment center selected and the admission process in order so that your loved one can immediately get the help he or she needs after your intervention meeting. 

Step 5:

Be prepared for anything. Your loved one may or may not respond well to the intervention. Emotions may begin to soar and it can become difficult for each one to speak with honesty and openness. But, be sure that each member of your team is prepared to deal with the difficult moments. Also, even if you follow all of the steps perfectly, your loved one may not be willing or ready to get help. Be prepared for this possibility, too.

Allow Our Team To Help Your Loved One

Of course, there is no way to guarantee that your loved one will choose to get help after you and your family or friends have conducted an intervention. But, with the right team on your side, the best thing you can do is try to help your loved one find his or her way to freedom. Here at Discovery Institute, we’re here to help you do just that.

Our mission is to help people find the peace and hope that they truly deserve. So, allow us to work with you and your family throughout this process. Just contact us today by calling (844) 433-1101  to learn about how we can help!

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451

https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/stage-intervention/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201408/drug-and-alcohol-interventions-do-they-work

Article Reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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