Getting a loved one into treatment can be a difficult task, especially if the individual struggling with addiction is in denial about their disease.
Treatment is most effective when the addicted person has an inner desire to change and enter into recovery, but sometimes this internal shift only comes about with a push in the right direction. In some cases, staging an intervention may be the push that your loved one needs.
Our expert staff understands how difficult it can be to have a loved one with an addiction and we are here to help. We would be more than happy to refer you to a trained interventionist or give you advice. Making the decision to seek treatment is not easy, and we commend you for having the strength and courage to ask for help, whether it is for yourself or for a loved one. Please know that you are not alone in this; we are here to help and we have faith in you.
When to Have an Intervention
Interventions are primarily for people who are in denial about having a problem with drug use. People who continuously refuse to be receptive to the suggestion of rehab are unlikely to change on their own. Interventions should ideally take place soon after finding out about the addiction, rather than waiting for problems to spiral out of control and crises (e.g., financial ruin, homelessness, child neglect, imprisonment, hospitalization for health problems) to develop.
Employ an Interventionist
You don’t need to approach a loved one on your own; you can elicit the help of an experienced interventionist to assist you in developing your strategy. There are a number of different ways to approach a loved one and request that they seek help, and an interventionist will have the background experience to direct you to the best options. Soliciting the help of an interventionist greatly increases your odds of getting your loved one to rehab.
Interventionists will educate the family about addiction and the steps involved in the recovery process. They can direct the family to useful resources, such as Al-Anon and rehab clinics. They mediate the intervention (preventing it from becoming an attack) and can serve as intermediaries for debate. When a person agrees to go to rehab, interventionists can drive the person if needed to prevent potential problems with family members changing their minds.
Types of Interventions
The basic types of interventions are direct, indirect, and forced. Direct interventions are what people seem to be most familiar with: directly requesting that the person with the drug use problem seek help. Indirect interventions involve preparing the family members and friends to approach this person, and forced interventions are usually avoided because they involve taking someone against their will to rehab. However, forced interventions may be used when a person is court-ordered or at risk of suicide.
Most people are familiar with the Johnson Method, in which a team of people gathers for a focused meeting to tell the person with the drug problem the different ways in which his or her drug use is negatively affecting their lives. This is usually a one-time session, after which the person must enter rehab or suffer the consequences. However, there are a few other models.
The “arise” model of intervention involves inviting the person struggling with drug addiction to an intervention meeting with all of the family members. With this intervention format, the drug user does not feel ambushed. The intervention is collaborative and might involve multiple sessions that build off of each other and function similar to family therapy, because everyone’s needs are addressed. The family members learn to communicate with each other more appropriately, and the drug user is encouraged to seek help at rehab while the family members are encouraged to seek help at Al-Anon.
The systematic family model can be confrontational in nature, like the Johnson Method, or invitational, like the arise model. The systematic family model does not focus only on what the drug user is doing but also on what other members in the family are doing to facilitate drug use. They also discuss what everyone in the family can do to solve the problem.
Any of these three models may be chosen, but some interventionists may decide the best approach is a blend of different aspects from the different models.
Carefully Select the Intervention Team
When selecting the members of the intervention team, choose the people who are most influential to the individual with the drug addiction problem, likely close family members and friends. Do not make the intervention team too large and extend to distantly affected people. The person who is the focus of the intervention may feel ganged up on and perhaps feel embarrassed about random people knowing their problems.
Rehearse Reading Your Letter
The intervention is an important event with a lot riding on it; it is important to practice remaining calm and examining the situation critically without assigning blame. Most people need to rehearse to get the intervention to relay the right message and to maintain the right tone. All members of the intervention team should think carefully about what they want to say and how they want to say it. After that it’s all about sticking to the script.
Time the Intervention Right
It is best to approach people about their drug addiction when they are not under the influence and when they are not stressed out. Both of these factors will distract the person and make them less receptive to having a serious conversation.
Don’t Assign Blame
Blaming the drug user for all of their problems will make them feel isolated and upset and can turn the conversation toxic, so carefully consider how to word your letter. An interventionist can help team members choose their words appropriately during intervention rehearsal. When drug users feel attacked, it is more likely that they will refuse to seek help.
Making rehabilitation easy is often all people need to be convinced to seek help. It is recommended that the intervention team set up all of the arrangements necessary for detox and an addiction treatment service, whether it is an inpatient or outpatient program.
State the Consequences of Not Seeking Treatment
Often people need to know that there are negative consequences to their drug use. Everyone on the intervention team should assure the drug user that they will no longer enable their behavior and that their relationship will change if the addict will not seek help. Loss of family assistance is one highly effective form of motivational enhancement.
Also, if the intervention does not work, everyone needs to follow through and not help the drug user pay bills or take care of their work. Sometimes the intervention doesn’t work immediately but works later. The person may eventually come around, change their mind, and decide to go to rehab.