What Happens If They Say “No” to Treatment at the Intervention?

In most cases, an intervention is best described as a process rather than an event. This is especially true when the initial intervention meeting ends in a “No.” This isn’t often the outcome, but it does happen from time to time. Addiction can have such a strong grip on a person that even the most powerful Family Intervention Meeting can end with the loved one saying “No” to a family’s request that he or she gets help.

It’s important that we don’t think of this outcome as a “failed intervention,” but rather a part of the intervention process. Seeing it this way can be very difficult, as the emotions family members feel in this moment can range from disappointment to devastation to pure anger.

Through the intervention, a family has made it clear how important this person is to them and their lives. They’ve also made a very powerful commitment to support their loved one’s recovery. How can their son, daughter, uncle, mother, etc., whose life is so clearly deteriorating due to the disease of addiction, not want to get help?

A Choice

In every intervention, the person who is struggling with addiction is given a choice, and it’s one of the most important decisions of their life. An intervention is designed to meet them with extreme love and provide them with a clear picture of the consequences of either decision.

The decision is simple; either they can accept the treatment being offered, or they can accept that things are going to change. These changes are different for every family, as each situation is unique, but there are two main components:

  1. A family will also no longer be supporting their loved one in the ways that enable his or her active addiction.
  2. Family members will not continue living as they have been, steeped in doubt, worry, and sleepless nights about their loved one’s addiction.

This withdrawal of support is known as “Bottom Lines,” and they are ways for individual family members to be very clear in what their loved one can expect if they do not accept help. For this reason, it’s absolutely crucial that Bottom Lines are upheld, as the person who is struggling with addiction needs to know with 100-percent certainty that their family members will not be softening or abandoning their Bottom Lines.

It’s also important to remember that Bottom Lines are not punishments; they’re boundaries that individual family members are putting in place to make it more likely that their loved one will accept treatment. They also help the person who is struggling with addiction recognize what is at stake if they refuse.

The Process of True Healing

When families in need of an intervention first come to us, they’re usually not taking good care of themselves. They may be missing work, they may be miserable, or they may not be able to sleep. Their thoughts, behaviors, and actions have been compromised by the addiction in their family.

Throughout the intervention process, our team helps families start to put their lives back together. We work with family members individually and as a group to educate them about what addiction is and how it can be healed through a series of calls and in-person meetings. Together, we help them overcome any objections they might have about their loved one’s addiction and his or her recovery. We also support them in committing to the things they will and won’t do to support their loved one in creating long-term sobriety.

Throughout the process, our team of addiction professionals takes the time to understand a family’s unique situation so that we can provide guidance and individualized recommendations of any boundaries that need to be set or enabling behaviors that need to be replaced with new healthy boundaries. With a new perspective on addiction and their role in the healing process, family members come to realize the importance of taking care of themselves so that they can be their best for themselves and as supportive as possible for their loved one — both at the intervention and throughout the recovery process. This is true healing.

When an initial meeting ends in a “No,” it can be easy for family members to lose hope. They can feel as though nothing will ever get better for the person in their family who is losing the battle to addiction. In our experience, this simply isn’t the case. We continue to meet the person who is struggling with addiction where they are and encourage them to accept help. This is done while a family is holding true to its Bottom Lines.

With patience and commitment to the Bottom Lines, families have a much better chance to realize their goals. This show of love, strength, and resolve more times than not results in the person who is struggling with addiction accepting help and getting treatment. Despite the initial “No,” the process in time will usually result in a “Yes.”

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