Friends and family members of loved ones struggling with addiction frequently realize that interventions represent a path toward effective treatment. Unfortunately, those outside of a profession associated with drug and alcohol counseling might not know how to perform an intervention. Few even know if one is necessary although many do realize that rehab might be the only viable means of saving a loved one’s life. Becoming educated about intervention steps should be a priority when you’re seriously concerned about someone’s substance use problems.
Hard Truths About Addiction
The A&E reality television series “Intervention” presents hard truths about dealing with an addicted individual. While the program shows the struggles in a bleak manner, the depictions are not completely without hope. The episodes, while melodramatic at times, can be described as sources of valuable education.
Performing an intervention to help a friend or relative may be necessary to save the person’s life. Grim news reports point out that annual opioid deaths alone have topped combat deaths in the Vietnam war and also surpassed breast cancer deaths.
Opioids aren’t the only dangerous drugs that hold people in the harsh grip of addiction. Legal prescriptions, illegal drugs of all sorts, and alcohol addiction have taken hold of millions of people throughout the United States. Unless these people choose to get help, their lives are at risk. Unfortunately, not everyone wishes to seek help; some express strong denial of having a substance use disorder.
When all looks bleak for a loved one, a close friend or family member may take the initiative to step in and perform a much-needed intervention.
What Is an Intervention?
Understanding what an intervention is starts with knowing what it is not. The process is not an attempt to judge or present an informal kangaroo court intended to guilt or punish anyone. The meetings shouldn’t be done at the spur of the moment or embrace a combative tone. Approaches such as these likely make an addicted individual feel defensive. He or she probably won’t be open to the idea of addiction treatment if the meeting goes poorly.
On a basic level, the process can be described as a carefully planned meeting in which an individual is confronted about his or her substance use problem. The meeting focuses on helping them to agree to enter rehab for professional recovery assistance.
Due to the serious nature of these meetings, the events must be carefully planned out and executed properly. Otherwise, the chances of the intervention being successful diminish.
Timing the Intervention
At a certain point, it may become quite obvious when it is necessary to plan an intervention. The right time to plan the meeting may coincide with a scenario in which a loved one has caused serious damage to his or her life.
Serious and adverse health risks might become apparent. Cardiac arrest resulting from an overdose presents an immediate and obvious adverse health reaction. Not all health problems deriving from alcohol and drug abuse, however, are immediate ones. While someone can suffer from acute alcohol poisoning, the likelihood of long-term liver damage would probably be greater. The same would be true of certain drugs and their ability to contribute to heart damage. When it becomes obvious that someone’s health declines due to an addiction, an intervention takes on a dire level of importance.
Addictions can destroy careers, damage friendships, break up families, and cause all manner of other social ills. A person’s behavior while under the influence doesn’t contribute to better social and professional interactions. Individuals are prone to neglecting personal and business responsibilities when their drug issues become the central focus of their lives. The disastrous effects may not be repairable since other people aren’t always forgiving. Many will be judgmental. Once you start to notice a loved one facing a multitude of problems with others, you may wish to step in to help them address the root of the problem.
Addicted individuals may find themselves in legal troubles due to the financial costs associated with paying for their substance of choice. They might steal or turn to other illegal activity to pay for their habits. Arrests for possession of a controlled substance or driving under the influence may occur. The state of mind of an impaired person may lead to physical confrontations and subsequent charges of disturbing the peace or assault. Once someone falls into legal jeopardy due to addictions, getting out of the problem may not be easy or even possible. Depending on the circumstances, jail time might not be avoidable. Clearly, helping this person into addiction treatment could alleviate legal problems before they get worse.
The behaviors of someone suffering from addiction create all kinds of serious troubles. People have lost their livelihood and even their freedom because of addiction. Ignoring the obvious impact of a drug problem on someone’s life becomes impossible unless the observer remains in denial. A state of denial won’t help anyone you care about. Once you see the impact a substance use problem has on the person’s life, the time may have come to set up that all-important and potentially lifesaving intervention so that your loved one cannot deny the problem anymore.
The Motivation Behind an Intervention
Even when someone realizes that the time has arrived to perform an intervening meeting, doubts and concerns about doing so may arise. Questions about when it’s time to stage an intervention go hand-in-hand with questions focusing on why to stage one. You may have questions along the lines of “Why help someone who won’t help him or herself?” or “Why should I connect myself with this person’s problems?” When faced with these questions, perhaps the time has arrived to look inward.
The primary motivation behind a desire to see someone get help is usually love. Family members and close friends don’t want to see someone they care about continuing down a path of ruination due to drug or alcohol problems. A strong, heartfelt desire to move the person back on the right path of sober living could serve as a reminder to all questions containing “Why?” By reminding yourself that you do these things for love, you won’t abandon someone who needs recovery treatment but isn’t doing anything necessary to seek such help.
Put Time Into Necessary Research
You need to combine love with smart planning to help someone you care about. Rushing to the meeting won’t help. There will be a desire to push the situation toward a beneficial conclusion, but going into the meeting unprepared won’t lead you to achieve this result. Don’t allow your enthusiasm to save your loved one lead you to embrace a strategy that doesn’t support this goal. Nothing about the meeting should be detrimental to the person in need of assistance.
What should you do to prepare for the event? Engaging in careful and deliberate research becomes a necessary prerequisite in order to be effective as an interventionist. Your personal observations alone won’t make you an expert on addiction. While you do maintain a better understanding of what the person is going through due to your firsthand observations, that won’t likely be enough. Relying solely on limited observational information doesn’t prepare you for the full scope of what must be done to help an individual confront their behavior.
As for the steps you must take, performing research can take many forms. Reading articles published online provides access to a significant amount of information and guidance. Watching videos of actual interventions allows you to observe true-life examples of both the right and wrong ways to stage the meetings.
Conducting necessary research keeps you from setting up an important meeting unprepared and without a clear idea of how to actually run the session. Deliberate and careful research may better prepare you to run the meeting in a productive manner.
Successful Strategies for the Meeting
Have you thought about telling your loved one that you wish to stage an intervention? Some choose to present a surprise meeting and catch the addicted individual off-guard. Drawbacks exist with springing a meeting unexpectedly. Surprise and shock over the meeting may lead to a defensive reaction. Once someone becomes defensive on any subject, reaching that person may become extraordinarily difficult. Therefore, some choose to set up a time and date for the meeting in advance. When you inform the troubled person that you wish to hold a group discussion about his or her drug problem, the individual might not respond in a reactionary manner.
Since the goal involves helping the person enter an addiction treatment facility, have you looked at a specific recovery center you feel would be best? By telling the person clear details about the facility, he or she might be more positive about it. Showing the person pictures of the rehab center could be a good idea. The person’s images of a recovery center might be ones of a cold, dark, and gray place. Displaying photo images of a bright, positive recovery center could quickly dispel fearful images holding the person back.
Interventions focus heavily on dialogue. Everyone in the meeting comes together in order to speak to the person at the center of it. Again, preparedness factors significantly into whether the planned actions work out as well as desired. If six people in the meeting speak off the top of their head in a rambling manner, the session won’t be as productive as if everyone collects their thoughts in advance. Clearly, no one should speak aggressively or derogatorily to the person requiring the intervention.
All speeches and commentary should be planned out in advance. They don’t need to be stilted or scripted, but they must be both affirming and focused. The leader of the meeting should review what everyone plans on saying. Make sure everyone has practiced their delivery and truly thought about what they want to say. Practice how to deal with combative and defensive responses as well.
Hiring an Interventionist
Some things may be best left to those with the professional talents and skills to perform critical duties effectively. Professional interventionists with a background in addiction treatment can be hired to handle all aspects of the meeting. For many, working with a professional could be the best strategy.
These meetings require a lot of hard work, and they must be performed in a loving manner. Considering the highly important nature of addiction recovery, you want the health and well-being of your loved one to be in the most capable hands. Seeking out an experienced professional with verifiable references might be the best way to intervene and get them on the road to recovery.
Always the Right Time
Drug and alcohol addictions create a wide variety of problems and serious risks. Looking the other way while someone heads down a dangerous path will do the person no favors. When is the right time for one of these meetings? The right time is any time it could help save a person’s life.