Interventions for drug and alcohol addiction, during which concerned loved ones guide a person with a dependency issue toward treatment, have been gaining in popularity over recent years. They have become so mainstream that a television series, “Intervention,” chronicles the lives of individuals undergoing these interventions and embarking on the journey to recovery.
While interventions can be a successful means to encourage people to seek treatment, they also carry the potential of straining relationships and, in some cases, exacerbating the condition. Whether or not an intervention is suitable for your loved one depends on various factors, and the outcome can’t be predicted with absolute certainty.
An intervention relies on the power of collective influence to motivate a person with addiction issues to acknowledge their problem and actively pursue the appropriate treatment. In the course of an intervention, a group of close friends and family convene, typically taking the addict by surprise. Each member of the group articulates the ways in which they’ve been negatively affected by the addict’s addiction. They plead with the addict to seek treatment and list the potential consequences if they do not. For example, a spouse may elucidate how the addict’s addiction is harming their children and marriage. They may also state their intent to leave the family home if the addict does not take steps towards recovery.
Interventions are emotionally charged gatherings where family members aim to provide precise accounts of the substantial repercussions of drug and alcohol abuse. Instead of merely stating that the addiction is harmful, participants in the intervention strive to itemise specific sufferings they’ve endured. This is done with the intention of helping the addict recognise the profound impact of their behaviour.
In most cases, interventions are overseen by a mental health professional or interventionist who leads the proceedings. If the addict agrees to seek treatment, they typically enter treatment shortly after the intervention. Those who decline treatment must face the consequences outlined by their loved ones. The objective is to make seeking treatment seem like the most sensible, straightforward, and rewarding choice.
Can Interventions Be Effective?
There is limited data available concerning the efficacy of interventions, partly because it is challenging to define effectiveness. Interventions often lead addicts to consider seeking treatment, but they do not directly influence the outcome of the treatment itself. In some cases, if an addict agrees to treatment due to the intense peer pressure of an intervention but lacks a genuine commitment to a sober life, their chances of recovery may be diminished.
Typically, an intervention is considered a last-ditch effort for addicts who have consistently refused treatment or have relapsed after previous attempts. As a result, most individuals who undergo interventions are deeply entrenched in their addictions. However, when addicts have strong social support and access to high-quality treatment, they have a better chance of recovery. An intervention can serve as a pivotal moment for a family committed to aiding a loved one in regaining their health.
Potential Risks of Interventions
Interventions do not present serious physical or psychological risks, nor do they directly worsen addiction. Instead, the primary risk associated with interventions is their potential strain on relationships. Some people may react to interventions with anger, storming out before the process is complete. In other instances, the addict may refuse to go to treatment, forcing loved ones to follow through on their threats. This change in the dynamics of the relationship can be particularly challenging for family members and friends who have previously enabled, protected, or provided financial support to the addict.
Enhancing the Effectiveness of an Intervention
Engaging a certified mental health professional or interventionist can assist you in the intervention process. Professional guidance can help alleviate tensions and improve the chances of success. Ultimately, you cannot compel someone who is unwilling to seek help. However, with careful planning and adherence to a well-thought-out strategy, your chances of success can be significantly enhanced. The following steps can be helpful:
- Choose an appropriate time for the intervention. Ensure it doesn’t coincide with a time when the addict is likely to be under the influence or excessively stressed. Such circumstances can hinder their ability to listen and engage.
- Select your intervention participants thoughtfully. It’s essential to have individuals who can maintain composure and not succumb to emotional outbursts during the process. Think about how they’ve managed crisis situations in the past as a guide to their suitability.
- Avoid confronting the addict with anger or shame. An intervention is not about guilt-tripping but about helping the addict understand the harm their addiction has caused to their loved ones. Make a clear distinction between the addict and their disease. Choose a semi-private location without strong emotional ties or previous conflicts, as it prevents them from manipulating the situation.
- Preparation is vital. Meet with the intervention group to decide how to proceed, considering each person’s relationship with the addict. Determine the order of speakers, anticipate various outcomes, and establish a group response for each scenario.
- Be specific when explaining how the addict’s addiction has affected you. Provide concrete examples of the harm it has caused to you, emphasising their actions that have harmed you and others. Avoid vague or ambiguous statements.
- Keep your statements concise and focused. A lengthy, unstructured monologue can overwhelm the addict. Write down your planned speech in advance and aim to keep it under five minutes. Sticking to your prepared script is crucial for maintaining confidence and momentum during the intervention.
- Have a treatment plan ready. It’s important to have a treatment option in place before the intervention. Ensure that the addict’s insurance covers the chosen program and that it aligns with their values and beliefs.
- Ensure clarity on what comes next. Does the addict agree to seek help or intend to continue down the same path? Avoid letting them evade the question; it’s important for them to make a definitive choice on their own.
- Be flexible. While sticking to the plan is advisable, there may be instances where flexibility is necessary. If the addict readily agrees to treatment, some participants may not need to speak. Adapt as needed while paying attention to the signals you receive.
- Follow through with the consequences. If you commit to stop providing money or support to the addict and then fail to uphold these boundaries, it teaches them that your threats are empty. An intervention is a last-resort effort, so prepare yourself to make significant changes in your relationship with the addict post-intervention.
- Maintain hope. While not all interventions succeed, and not everyone responds immediately, remember that your efforts stem from love, care, and respect for the person. The seeds you plant today may yield a rich harvest in the future. There is always room for hope.
Engaging in an intervention can be emotionally draining and somewhat intimidating. However, it is often the most effective way to convince addicts to seek help.
How White River Manor Can Help
We offer our guests individualised programs and luxury individual care at White River Manor. In collaboration with the client, our team of highly qualified therapists, medical professionals, and dependency specialists work to design a program to restore balance and well-being in our guests’ lives.
If you’d like to talk to us about treatment options and how we can help you recover, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our intake team.