A family intervention is a process where the those closest to an addict team up with a professional interventionist to help an addict get into treatment. Oftentimes interventions are seen as tactics to get the most serious addicts help, however this method can be used on anyone who is struggling with drugs and/or alcohol.
In fact, many families use interventions before the addiction gets so out of control that the addict no longer cares about the consequences. Interventions generally focus on the concept of enabling and how to stop this behavior on behalf of the family and those closest to the addict.
When Families Enable
When a person is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol they often rely on those closest to them to allow the addiction to continue. This can come in many forms. For instance, addicts often insist on secrecy or their actions will threaten embarrassment to those closest to them. Instead of outing the addict, many family members will attempt to handle the problem quietly. This works as an advantage to the addict, allowing them to continue their abuse. While many people will refuse to give the addict the money, they often provide support in other ways. This support can come in the form of problem solving for the addict, providing them with food and shelter, or even allowing the addict to talk, complain or reason their addictions away.
These behaviors are the lesser known ways that family members enable an addict. An interventionist works to create healthy boundaries and an environment whereby the addict no longer has these outlets to fall back on and must get treatment.
Three Stages of Family Intervention
A family intervention is generally done in three stages. The first stage is the planning stage. This is where the family, working with the interventionist, chooses a treatment program and agrees on a time and location for the intervention. That can happen over the course of a day, or several days. Once the logistics have been figured out, the second stage is enacted. This involves everyone who is going to be part of the intervention, except the addict, meeting and discussing what behaviors they are no longer willing to tolerate. This can include; giving the addict a place to stay while they are using drugs, providing monetary support to the addict that allows them to continue their abuse, or even providing emotional support to a person who is refusing to accept help.
Once these “bottom lines” are settled upon, it is time to put them in letter form. These letters will be read to the addict during the intervention. This step in the intervention process is actually the most important both for the families, and to the overall goal of getting the person into treatment. This step allows families to see how they have been enabling the addict and what measures they can take to ensure that that the person agrees to treatment.
The final step to an intervention is actually sitting down with the person needing help. This meeting is not an excuse to attack the person or make less of their struggles. Instead it is a meeting designed to show support, love and a way out of addiction. The family, along with the interventionist, presents the addict with their letters and offers them treatment. Oftentimes an addict will initially say no. This is normal, expected behavior and should not be taken as a sign that the intervention has failed. Throughout the course of the intervention the addict is likely to change their mind, or they may need to experience the bottom lines. They may need to see that their loved ones are serious about turning off their phone, withholding communication or money or support before agreeing to enroll in treatment.
Interventions are an extremely effective tool in getting an addict to agree to treatment. Seeking out and talking with a trained interventionist is the first step in taking back your life, and giving the addict a chance to live the life they were meant to have all along.