Watching a person you love struggle with substance use disorder can be difficult and heartbreaking. The downward spiral is evident from the outside looking in. But often, the user is in denial or refuses to see the reality of their use. This denial is a big obstacle in recovery since acknowledging a problem is the first step. Sometimes an intervention is needed to help them see the problem.
Although your heart is breaking and you are fearful, it is crucial to be aware of your reactions. While the problem needs immediate action, certain reactions can be more destructive than helpful. So, stop, take a breathe, and form a plan. Remember, just because a person has a substance use problem doesn’t mean they know it.
A person with a substance use disorder is typically a person screaming for help. So no matter your difficulties, they are a person who needs grace and understanding. Addiction takes a toll on the whole family as well; additionally, everyone must receive help.
But, how do you help someone who won’t help themself? If you are lost on how to help, treatment centers like Sana Lake BWC can help families stage an intervention. But what is an intervention?
If your loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, an intervention may save their life.
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An intervention is a strategically planned conversation between someone struggling with substance use disorder and their loved ones. Interventions focus on helping a person see how their addiction is affecting their family. So, an intervention’s goal isn’t to change their mind or perspective but to bring their attention to the problem.
No one chooses to struggle with substance use disorder regardless of how it may seem. Addiction is a chronic disease and should be treated as such. But, it doesn’t change that careless and ill-informed choices led to this point. However, the right decisions can lead to Recovery for Life.
A therapist trained in substance use interventions works with friends and family members on the process of an intervention. It can be mentally draining for all involved but might be the only chance at getting a person’s treatment. For this reason, it’s crucial for the intervention setting to be comfortable and safe. The setting helps the loved one feel understood and heard.
With guidance from the therapist, friends and family members tell their loved ones how their addiction has affected them and the ones who love them. With the ultimate goal being the loved one seeking addiction treatment.
When it is obvious a loved one needs desperate help or about to cause themself physical danger, an intervention is necessary. It may also be necessary if your loved one refuses to quit despite the severe consequences.
Other examples include:
When your loved one struggles with addiction, it can be challenging to know when an intervention is necessary. But, watching for these symptoms is the first step. Even though your loved ones may not acknowledge the reality of the situation, they must understand why everyone is concerned about them.
There are important steps when planning an intervention to help your loved one. Even though television makes an intervention look easy, it definitely isn’t. So, seeking guidance from a professional on how to plan an intervention is recommended.
Step 1: Get help. This may mean contacting an interventionist, doctor, or social worker. An interventionist is professionally trained to handle all aspects of an intervention. It’s also essential to involve friends and family for support.
Step 2: Form the intervention team. This is the group that organizes the intervention. This group may or may not include an interventionist. Friends, family, and co-workers should be part of this group as long as they aren’t struggling with their own addiction issues.
Step 3: Make a plan. A plan should include the day, time, place, and who’s involved. It should also outline how the intervention will work and what everyone will say.
Step 4: Gather information. Learn about the substance or substances being misused, addiction itself, and the recovery journey. Also, research addiction treatment centers. Do they offer medical detox? Will their programs meet your loved one’s needs?
Step 5: Write impact statements. Each person at the intervention should say something about the person’s addiction struggles. They should be personal and detail about how addiction has negatively affected their loved ones. Addiction damages relationships. When loved ones hear how their addiction has affected others in their life, they realize it impacts more than themself. Keep the statements emotionally honest but loving.
Step 6: Offer help. The recovery journey is difficult. So, each person at the intervention should be willing to support their loved one in some way. For example, offer rides to treatment or support groups, or attend family therapy sessions and support groups.
Step 7: Set boundaries. If your loved one refuses treatment after the intervention, then relationships must change. Codependent and enabling behaviors must stop. Be clear in the statements that refusal to get help will have negative consequences.
Step 8: Rehearse. Emotions can run high in an intervention. Therefore a dry run of the intervention is suggested. This will avoid taking too much time or blaming your loved one.
Step 9: Manage expectations. Even the best-planned intervention can result in your loved one not going to treatment. This can be for a variety of reasons. But, no explanation is acceptable, and everyone must follow through with the consequences.
Ste 10: Follow-up. It’s vital to uphold all statements made in the intervention whether the person goes to treatment or not. For example, if they go to treatment but don’t stay in treatment, the consequences are the same as if they never went.
Interventions work by showing your loved ones how their addiction affects those around them. Each person in the group gives examples of how addiction affects them. People also details the financial and social boundaries that will be enforced.
Be ready for your loved one to get defensive during the intervention. They may try to minimize the problem, guilt their friends and family, or make themself a victim. Furthermore, victimhood and denial are the two biggest obstacles to intervention. But, a trained interventionist can re-focus the intervention offering the chance for recovery.
An intervention statement is written for two main reasons. The first reason being, it makes sure you get all your points across without rambling. In short, you won’t draw a blank or eat up other people’s time. The second reason is interventions are emotionally intense. Emotions can lead to arguments that derail the intervention. The following are tips for writing an intervention statement.
Your letter must start with a sincere statement of love and support. When your loved one walks into the intervention, they go on the defense. So remind them why they were worth the work of the intervention. Tell them how you are doing so because of how concerned and scared you are for them. Share a happy memory or how grateful you are for something they did specifically for you.
After expressing your love and support, tell them how drugs or alcohol changes their behaviors. For example, substances change the kind and decent person they are. Tell them you also understand that addiction is a chronic disease that needs treatment.
Now that your loved one knows how much you care and your beliefs about addiction, now it’s time to get to specifics. This is when you tell your loved one how drugs have really hurt them and the ones who love them. But, it’s important not to make judgments or generalizations. Sticking to the facts will avoid arguments.
Everyone in the room will share firsthand stories, so focus only on your experiences. You can say a situation made you scared, but avoid attributing your feelings to your loved one. Finally, don’t embellish your points. The experiences you share should speak for themselves.
After everyone has read their intervention statement, it’s time to talk about treatment. Tell your loved one about the facility you’ve chosen and all the positives about treatment. Explain how the treatment will make life better. It may take you begging to go for you if they don’t go for themself.
If your loved one is still unwilling to get help, it may be time to lay out the consequences. Ultimatums may include not having contact with you, including no more financial support. But, it is crucial to follow through if they still don’t get help. If you say you are going to do something and don’t, your threats are meaningless.
After everything is said and done and your loved one still doesn’t seek treatment, it’s not the end of you helping them. Even though they didn’t get help today, it doesn’t mean you still can’t influence them to go. The following steps can help your loved one chose addiction treatment.
1. Don’t barter or compromise. Most people struggling with substance use disorder believe they are still in control and make promises to quit. But, we know they are not in control, and treatment is the only way to stop.
2. Follow through on your ultimatums. Following through on your promises removes any enabling behaviors and protects you from the effects of addiction. Although your loved one may lash out in anger, don’t allow yourself to be manipulated.
3. Stage another intervention. When family and friends follow through on their promises, their loved one really feels the consequences of their addiction. For example, if Mom stops giving money, then the financial struggles become real.
If your loved one starts seeing the consequences of their addiction, it may be time for a second intervention. This time they may be willing to accept help and begin their recovery journey.
If your loved one struggles with substance use disorder and you do not know what to do, we can help. At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center, we help the person struggling with addiction and the whole family. Contact us today and let us help you help your loved one.