When we think of substance use disorders, we tend to focus on the individual living with the disorder, how it affects them, and the negative consequences caused to their lives. But addiction affects more people than we may think. If a loved one or family member is actively engaging in problematic substance abuse, the negative implications caused by their behaviors can have a trickle-down effect and seep into aspects of others’ lives.
It’s a difficult experience to witness a loved one’s addiction. The disease has been found to cause certain changes within the brain that massively affect a person’s actions and behaviors. More often than not, a person living with a substance use disorder does not realize that they are living with an addiction, let alone the destructive behaviors and repercussions that accompany the disease. This makes it extremely tricky to engage in conversations about possible treatment options.
Perhaps you want to help your loved one’s addiction but are at a loss with how to effectively encourage treatment. In these cases, an intervention may be what is needed to kick-start your loved one’s recovery process. So, what is an intervention? And can an intervention really be the final push of encouragement needed for your family member or loved one to seek treatment? Read on to find out more.
Interventions to Help Your Loved One
An intervention allows for a safe and structured space to discuss and communicate about your loved one’s substance abuse, other addictive behaviors, or mental health issues, and the impacts it is having on them, you, and other family members and loved ones. An intervention is a formal or informal gathering of family and loved ones, and in some cases, a medical professional, with the aim to encourage positive change. It is an organized attempt to confront a person and address how their addiction has affected not just them, but those surrounding them as well. Through an honest and open conversation, the key goal and desired outcome of interventions are for the person living with the addiction to accept help and follow through with the proposed treatment. An intervention will include:
- specific examples of different behaviors or actions that have caused distress to you and your loved ones
- treatment options with potential steps, goals, and outcomes
- consequences to follow through with if your loved one refuses treatment
An intervention is essentially a combination of education and support with the goal of meaningful change.
When Is an Intervention Needed?
In some cases, people struggling with a substance abuse problem are in denial about their reality and struggle to reach out for support. Alcohol or drug addiction treatment is most successful when a person actively wants to get better for themselves, however, this may require a little push in the right direction. With the support of family members and friends, people are able to understand the extent and severity of their disorder. An intervention may be needed if a loved is:
- unable to stop or control drug use despite the negative effects
- unable to see the problems caused by their addictive behavior
- having financial, personal, social, or professional difficulties
- unwilling to engage in conversations about their drug use or behaviors
How Interventions Work
The intervention process typically includes the following steps.
Create a plan. A successful intervention requires careful planning to ensure that everyone involved understands the process and what is to come. Planning an intervention isn’t always easy and often takes time and commitment. It is recommended to consult with a medical professional, such as a professional counselor or intervention specialist. An intervention is a highly emotionally charged situation with the potential to cause resentment or anger. An intervention specialist can offer support for the entire family while ensuring a smooth sailing process.
Form the intervention team. Those who are planning the intervention need to set up an intervention team that will participate in the actual intervention. This group can consist of family members, loved ones, or medical professionals. The team then set a location and date and work alongside one another to create a structured plan and consistent message.
Seek information and treatment. It is important to educate yourself and your team on your loved one’s condition and the different treatment programs available. The main goal of an intervention is for your loved one to follow through with suggested treatment options. Providing your loved one with alternative options alongside information ensures that they are able to make a quick and easy decision.
Set specific consequences. If your loved one refuses treatment, each member of the intervention team needs to decide on a consequence or action that they will take. No two relationships are the same, so consequences will differ depending on the unique situation. Consequences may include ultimatums, stopping financial or emotional support, or distancing from the person completely.
Rehearse what everyone will say. Most interventions are successful if all team members are aware of what each person is going to say. When a person is regularly partaking in drug abuse, they may not see how their behaviors are affecting others. An intervention letter is one of the most important aspects of an intervention as it allows for a concise reflection of the concern you feel while addressing the seriousness of the situation, without shame or blame. A letter should highlight the severity of the disorder and should include specific examples of how actions have hurt the different people around them.
Hold the intervention. Your loved one should not know that an intervention is about to happen. They should be asked to the location of the planned intervention where team members will take turns expressing their feelings and concerns. The person is presented with different treatment ideas and the consequences that will happen if they do not accept treatment.
Follow up and through. It is important to follow through with the consequences set if they do not accept treatment. Although holding an intervention is a positive step in the right direction, there is always the possibility that they will refuse treatment. It is good to be emotionally prepared for what will happen if this is the case. You cannot control how your loved one behaves, but you do have the power to remove yourself from destructive and harmful situations.
Who Should Be on the Intervention Team?
One of the first steps in the planning process is deciding who will be on the team. It typically consists of four to six people who are of importance in the life of your loved one, people they respect, love or depend on. Members of the team should have direct experience of their substance use and the different negative implications caused. You should not include people who have an addiction, who may not be able to control their emotional outbursts during the meeting, or anyone who your loved one may dislike.
An intervention specialist is trained in approaching interventions in a non-shaming and compassionate way. They are able to play an important role in guiding individuals and their families in planning a successful intervention. An intervention specialist can assess the situation, listen to any concerns and respond with the best course of action to ensure an effective intervention.
The role of an intervention specialist is to instruct and guide people on how to effectively conduct an intervention. They often take charge of the planning process and outline a set structure for others to follow. The goal of an intervention is for your loved one to recognize their problem and to accept help. A professional interventionist can help you understand what treatment is available.
Overcoming the unrest and turmoil that is associated with confronting a loved one about a problematic situation can be difficult to handle for non-trained individuals. Having a professional interventionist present can help you overcome these barriers as they are trained in knowing how to effectively and peacefully communicate. It is important to involve an interventionist if your loved one has a history of mental illness.
Types of Interventions
A crisis intervention is used to address an emergency. It is typically a short-term technique used to reduce damage to a person affected by a crisis. It allows loved ones to step in and support them with safe alternatives to quickly get them out of whatever danger they are facing.
A systemic family intervention is a way in which the entire family is able to actively heal from the damage caused by their loved one’s substance disorder. This differs from a normal intervention as there are no planned or hidden meetings intended for the person living with the disease. It’s not a one-way conversation but all members of the family are able to openly discuss the way that they have been impacted by their loved one’s behavior. Instead of there being one ‘intervention’, there may be many meetings over a period of several weeks to months.
Also referred to as a brief intervention, a simple intervention is best suited for those who have mild substance use disorders. It is intended to take place in an informal setting where treatment is encouraged and discussed.
A classic intervention is one of the oldest and best-studied forms of intervention, also known as the Johnson Model Intervention. The structure typically follows the steps outlined earlier in this blog post.
How Can You Ensure a Successful Intervention?
Below are some top tips on how to ensure an intervention is successful.
- Plan every detail
- Research your loved one’s addiction
- Share information among the team
- Stage a rehearsal
- Be calm and rational if your loved one is refusing treatment
- Avoid confrontation
- Stay on track and follow the scripts
- Seek support for yourself
- Hire an intervention specialist
- Ask for an immediate decision
Finding Treatment for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
One of the important steps in planning an intervention is ensuring that treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is provided. A treatment center will provide a number of options that vary in intensity and scope. Treatment programs will either be conducted on an outpatient or inpatient basis, depending on the severity of the disorder. Treatment centers will provide a structured specific treatment program that can include detoxification, education, counseling, family services, and life skills training.
Treatment will differ depending on what substance is being abused as well as personal factors. The first step of treatment programs is a detox, where a person allows the body to naturally rid itself of any remaining substances. Medical detox allows for supervision from a medical professional to help effectively manage and control any withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced.
Following a detox, a treatment plan will typically consist of some form of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication or a combination of both. During psychotherapy, individuals will work through identifying and changing troubling thoughts, behaviors, or emotions that are contributing to their substance use disorder.
Interventions at Feinberg Consulting
Feinberg Consulting is an intervention, coaching, and case management company. We provide individualized and innovative solutions to individuals and their families who may be facing difficulties relating to behavioral health concerns, injuries, or complex health crises. Our team of professionals is here to help you achieve the ultimate care, rehabilitation, and successful outcomes.
In order to provide the most optimal healing and recovery, we offer one on one personalized care based on four stages:
We utilize a comprehensive assessment to learn about your current situation and different needs. Based on what we find, our team presents different recommendations and a thorough care plan.
Once these have been set in place, we support the intervention process through a strong implementation strategy. Our team will continue to provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the whole process.
Take the first step in getting support today and contact us to see how we can help you.