Not everyone who finds long-term recovery does so after experiencing an intervention. But to some, interventions play a key role in bridging the gap between addiction and recovery. When a family or support group has exhausted their resources trying to help a loved one who’s suffering from addiction, an intervention can be a powerful step to initiating their loved one’s recovery journey.
What makes interventions effective is their ability to connect the members of a family or close-knit inner circle and provide the platform for them to share how their loved one’s addiction is affecting them. While these participants are typically composed of family members, close friends, and loved ones, there are some families in which one of the members has been identified as a trigger for the member suffering from a substance use disorder. In these cases, it is best for this family member or loved one to be excluded from the event so as to reduce the chances of an adverse reaction from the individual.
Bringing Focus to the Crisis at Hand
Meeting with someone suffering from a substance use disorder and presenting them with the emotions and experiences of the people who care about them can help the person reach a turning point and acknowledge that they need and want help. By allowing them to see the impact their addiction has had and setting terms for what follows if it continues unabated, the group offers their loved one transparency and establishes more sustainable boundaries.
It’s important not to talk at the individual, but with them, making sure the individual knows that everyone present is there only because they love and care for them. For some, a stern and assertive message will be needed to get the point across. For others, a softer, more compassionate stance is best. A good guide for determining this approach is context from past attempts to address the individual’s addiction, and the results of those past attempts. If no positive result came from a soft approach, attempt a firm one throughout the intervention, or vice versa. But whatever the emotional tone of the event might be, it’s important to be fully transparent about the impact the loved one’s addiction has had.
Taking an Organized Approach
For an intervention to be effective, it’s important that its subject can hear from the people they trust and care for, but it’s also important that someone from outside the subject’s inner circle — who has a firm understanding of the disease of addiction — is also present. This role can be filled by a counselor or therapist, a current or past sponsor, or even a pastor or teacher. Their job is to bring an objective and experienced outlook to the conversation, as well as helping to mediate when necessary. They can provide added insight and context about treatment options that the group may not have known otherwise.
Interventions can be stressful and emotionally taxing but having an organized plan for how it should take place, who should be involved, and what happens after can make all the difference in the outcome. Should the individual flatly refuse treatment, a firm boundary or ultimatum may be set. However, this is up to each family and support group to determine for themselves. If the individual does accept, their treatment needs will also depend on the specifics of their situation. Working with a clinician, such as a therapist or counselor, could be a helpful way to establish terms for what should follow an intervention — no matter the outcome.
Taking the Next Steps
Because interventions often come after previous efforts to address the addiction have failed, they usually require organization and planning. The loved one at the center of the event may be in desperate need of help and may only have a fleeting willingness to accept treatment. They may also have a hostile reaction, taking offense to what is being communicated to them. However, if executed with preparation and care, an intervention could be the key to getting someone into treatment.
Researching potential treatment options beforehand is critical. Looking into insurance compatibility and whether a desired or conveniently located treatment center has openings should all be done prior to the intervention. By making these arrangements before, the individual could have an immediate path to treatment should they accept help. If a week or even a few days elapses between the intervention and their entering treatment, the individual may go back on their decision.
Interventions inherently indicate that a loved one’s addiction has reached a crisis point, therefore careful and thorough planning and a supportive but intentional conversation are critical to bringing about a successful result. Navigating resources for addiction and recovery treatment options is a significant challenge and can feel like a different language for families with loved ones grappling with substance use disorder. Families must remember that treatment not only for the addiction, but its root cause, is important for long term recovery.
For additional resources on interventions and family support, visit learn2cope.org or al-anon.org. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab.