Accepting help represents one of the most difficult steps of treatment. Denial and inability to see the objective situation features as a symptom for many individuals suffering with substance use disorder. Many families consider intervention at some point as a possible answer. The process of watching a loved one suffer through addiction creates feelings of hopelessness and desperation. So intervention may present a solution for the individual struggling with addiction. When done properly, interventions facilitate respectful confrontation to provide a much-needed “wake up call.” So how do interventions work, exactly?
The Intervention Process
Intervention events require careful planning. They also benefit from the assistance of an addiction professional such as a counselor or someone with treatment facility admission experience. They rarely play out the way dramatized depictions on television and movies do. Instead, real interventions require emotional regulation and the avoidance of hostility. The tenor of interventions should also remain calm and controlled to avoid spiraling into chaos.
Ideally, families and loved ones focus on preparation and presentation of a united front. Every individual involved should prepare what they have to say with specific parameters. People in active addiction do not respond well to being “called out” or judged. This can in fact create the opposite effect than intended as they feel attacked and shut down or leave the conversation entirely. Instead, when loved ones focus on calm confrontation, the person suffering with addiction may be more open to listening.
Interventions usually follow this format:
- The person suffering with addiction sits down with family and friends.
- Each person provides specific, non-judgmental accounts of how the addict’s behavior has impacted them. These accounts should focus on the affected loved one’s feelings rather than accusations or blame.
- The treatment professional explains next steps of getting into treatment, and how treatment could change their life for the better.
- The professional and family members encourage the addict to accept professional help.
- Each person describes how they will respond if the addict refuses. This response needs to be absolute and non-negotiable. If the person reneges on their response, the addict will take that as a sign that this person lacks conviction and may be manipulated in the future.
No one can predict the result of an intervention. Some people in active addiction simply are not ready to make a change. So how do loved ones know whether an intervention will work?
How Effective are Interventions?
Unfortunately little data exists regarding the effectiveness of interventions. Recovery does not look the same for everyone, so no objective way exists to say whether an intervention “worked” or not. Added complications include individuals who agree to go to treatment then do not complete or relapse shortly after release. That said, interventions can absolutely become a turning point under the right circumstances.
Families should follow established guidelines as mentioned above. These standards arose in the treatment community as a result of many years of experience with getting people professional help. At Blue Coast Behavioral Health, we have assisted with many successful interventions for our own clients. Our addiction counselors know how to assist loved ones assess the best way to approach each individual case. The same strategy will not work for everyone, so this expertise goes a long way.
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How to Convince a Loved One to Seek Help
Ultimately, interventions will only go as far as the individual is willing to go. The stages of change describe this process in more detail. Individuals in the pre-contemplation stage rarely respond to interventions well because their active and frequent use clouds their judgement too much. But even an ounce of willingness, even to consider making a change, can open up the door to recovery.
If you or a loved one is seeking help for a substance use disorder, our addiction counselors are available 24/7 by phone: 855-997-4702