Addiction of any kind, whether it is substance abuse, gambling, or similar, is detrimental, not only to the addicted person but also to everyone around them. Close friends and family suffer while watching their loved one slowly sacrifice themselves to satisfy their addiction urges. The concerned parties try to talk to the addict, reason with them, and help them get out of it, but those pleas often fall on deaf ears.
Addiction is a powerful force that can destroy relationships and wreck entire families. Sometimes, there isn’t much left to do but to stage an intervention.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is an event, for lack of a better word, where those who care most about the struggling addict gather in one place to talk to them about their addiction. This conversation consists of the intervention team calmly relaying how their loved one hurt them as a result of their addictive behaviors and how they urge them to get professional help.
By the end of the intervention, the addicted person either accepts addiction treatment, such as being admitted to a rehab center, or they suffer consequences previously determined by the intervention group. Either way, their previous way of living – going through their addiction unchecked – stops.
Holding an intervention is not an easy task. There are dozens, if not hundreds of details to think about. You need to organize an intervention team, set up the time and place, do extensive research on the addiction of your loved one, write out what you want to say, rehearse everything several times, determine the order of speaking, agree on the boundaries you will set for the addicted person if they refuse treatment, and so on.
Intervention success rates vary greatly and mostly depend on the type of person the addict is and their specific addiction. However, interventions aided by an intervention professional have higher chances of succeeding.
When Should You Hire a Professional Interventionist?
While hiring an interventionist isn’t a requirement for a successful intervention, it is generally recommended that you speak to someone qualified in facilitating such delicate matters. Loved ones – friends and family of the addicted person – are often emotionally too close to make important decisions and plan everything to make it run as smoothly as possible. An intervention specialist could prove invaluable in these situations.
There are also situations in which professional help is necessary. They include but are not limited to:
- The presence of a co-occurring disorder
Aside from substance use disorders, people struggling with addiction can also suffer from a mental illness of some kind. Co-occurring disorders are not rare and can come in the form of borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, and others. While figuring out a way to fight addiction, it may get overwhelming to also think about how to help your loved one get a hold of their mental illness as well.
An intervention professional will know what to do. They will help you understand how the mental disorder in question works, what to expect, and what you can do to ensure the best possible outcome of the intervention.
- A history of violence
According to science, most substance abusers (whether drug or alcohol) are not violent. However, addiction can lead to extremes. If your loved one used to react angrily to things that weren’t in their favor, perhaps now that anger could result in the destruction of property, or maybe even physical violence. If they weren’t so deep in their addictive behaviors, they likely wouldn’t act so harshly.
With the help of an interventionist, the intervention team will craft speeches that provide all the necessary information but aren’t inflammatory in any way. One of the goals is to convey the pain and the concern without veering into rage. A specialist can suggest the best techniques to avoid a confrontation and move the conversation along in as composed a manner as possible.
- Mention or history of suicide attempts
In much the same way that violence towards others is a problem, so is violence towards oneself. People struggling with addiction may feel defeated when they’re finally faced with their actions. They might construe an intervention as a personal attack on them – a signal that their closest people don’t care for them anymore, which may cause them to decide to end their life.
Not all interventionists do this, but some accept the task of making sure that the addicted person gets to their treatment center safely. Interventionists aren’t necessarily counselors, but they can help you keep an eye on your loved one until they are settled into a place where they can get the help they need.
- Previous attempts at recovery
Maybe this isn’t the first time the addicted person has found themselves in the throes of their addiction. Maybe they already tried one or several treatment programs, only to go right back to where they started. Addiction recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime and requires dedication and support like little else. It isn’t a surprise that many recovering addicts relapse into their old habits, especially if they don’t make the necessary life changes.
One of the responsibilities of an interventionist is to take a look at the addicted person’s history and find a program where they can be successful. If they tried outpatient programs, maybe they can go for inpatient rehab this time. Maybe they can also look into a sober living community instead of coming home right away. A professional intervention specialist will work with you to find an option everyone is comfortable with.
- Tense family relationships
As mentioned, addiction takes a toll on more than just the addicted person. Their loved ones may feel angry and accusatory, sad and disappointed, lost, worried, depressed, or any number of other emotions. When the time comes to share your thoughts and feelings on how your loved one’s addiction affected you, you may find that it’s easy to get riled up and start placing blame.
The primary goal of an intervention is to focus on love and care and not on anger and guilt. An interventionist parses through all the emotions the intervention team may be feeling and helps them process those emotions before the intervention itself. They may also ask family members and friends to take breaks and walk around the room to blow off steam and not say something they will regret. Think of an interventionist like a mediator – someone who is there to facilitate peaceful, constructive conversation and not angry arguments.
- Not having the right words
If you’ve already had conversations about your loved one’s addiction, maybe even several times, you might feel like you’re running out of words. You’ve made the same points over and over again, and you don’t know what else you can say to get them to change their mind.
Hiring an interventionist because you’re struggling to find the right words is a valid reason. A professional will be a breath of fresh air and will offer you and your family a new perspective, along with different ways you can express yourself in the process.
What Can the Interventionist Help With?
Aside from everything we talked about so far, an interventionist also helps in the following:
- Helping decide who should be on the intervention team
- Finding the right location to stage an intervention
- Researching treatment centers and rehab options
- Figuring out the appropriate consequences for the addicted person should they refuse treatment
- Monitoring rehearsals and helping with the intervention script
- Mediating the intervention itself, if you agree that a strange face wouldn’t be out of place in such a sensitive moment
- Guiding the addict’s friends and family through every step of the process
Will the Intervention Succeed?
An individual’s response to an intervention cannot be predicted, even if you know this person well. Unfortunately, life rarely imitates Hollywood, and there are quite a few people who react badly to an intervention, feeling like they’ve been cornered and perhaps that they haven’t even done anything wrong in the first place. No interventionist will guarantee success, but if you have professional help on your side, your odds will be greatly improved.
All you can do is prepare for the day as best as you can. Organizing an intervention is a challenging process, and a specialist will make it a lot easier for everyone involved. After all, this could be a pivotal moment in the life of the person struggling with addiction, and it is important that everything goes as planned.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. If you would like a helping hand in setting up an intervention, our experienced, compassionate team is at your service. Please give us a call at (619) 630-7844 or visit our website.