If you are a friend or a family member of someone who is either abusing drugs or already addicted, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help. Sometimes a drug addiction intervention can help the addict to break their denial long enough to begin treatment. Once in treatment they will learn how to stay sober.
The biggest problem you face is that the abuser or addict thinks this is YOUR problem, or you’re making a fuss over nothing. “I can handle it.” The last one in the room to know there is a problem is the one who has it. They do no want a drug addiction intervention.
There is help
You’ve seen what’s going on and you are thinking of ways to stop the behavior. Maybe you’ve decided to do a drug addiction intervention that person you care about and “get real” with him or her.
The biggest problem you face is that the abuser or addict thinks this is YOUR problem, they don’t need drug addiction help, and you’re making a fuss over nothing. You probably need the assistance of an interventionist, someone who is trained in drug and alcohol issues.
You are not going to be left out of the room, as the interventionist will work with the family and friends to plan the best approach to the abuser or addict, based upon his/her history of use. The interventionist will plan according to the user’s drug of choice, make the proper analysis and map out a specific strategy based on the information gathered. They will do their best to plan a SUCCESSFUL drug addiction intervention. Because they are experienced and objective they're likely to see things that the family doesn't and improve the communication to move the process forward.
Each drug addiction intervention can be different
A drug addiction intervention will vary, depending on the user’s history. For example, if the person is already well into addiction, the interventionist must make that adjustment to the strategy. That’s where friends and family come in.
Moreover, the interventionist will understand the approaches to handling addicts with alcoholism, cocaine abuse, heroin addiction, or those who are abusing inhalants or methamphetamine.
Regardless of the drug, trained professional help is available for a drug addiction intervention. They are the ones who can give an accurate and objective account of the user’s behavior. If someone has just moved from being an occasional user to a frequent user, that requires a different approach than the one for a person who is a long-time abuser. Friends and family are vital to this process.
Most people under estimate their problem
People who are caught in addiction do not realize the severity of their problem. The only thing that matters in their life is getting the drug, regardless of the consequences. Health problems are not considered. Legal problems are not considered.
The person who used to be rational and law-abiding has been swallowed by the drug. That’s why the drug addiction intervention step is so vital.
Don’t enable, it only makes the problem worse
There is no room for enabling, no room for being the good guy, because the life of the addict may be on the line unless something is done on their behalf. It is sad when family and friends no longer matter. It is even sadder when life does not matter. The closer you are to the addict the more likely you are to enable them in some way. A drug addiction intervention often helps to shed light on all of the ways the addict has manipulated the situation to get what they want. In other words how many ways the addict is being enabled and what must stop going forward to allow the addict to feel the full consequences of their choices.
Don’t be a hero. Get help from a trained professional. That person knows what questions to ask and what information is necessary to make a proper assessment and an effective strategy for battling the problem.
People who are addicted to drugs do not believe they have a problem, and if there is a problem, it’s your problem. That is a key idea to remember when trying to help a friend or loved one who is in the clutch of addiction.
Just telling that person you are concerned for their health and well being isn’t going to change the addictive behavior. It’s like me telling my dog “Moose” not to chase the rabbits in the back yard. His brain tells him to chase the rabbits.
Depending on the situation, a person might come to the conclusion that their drug use needs to stop and in some cases there is success. But the majority of people can not just stop using, so they need help. If you are concerned about a loved one, it’s hard for you to be the messenger, because you are too close.
Seek professional support when planning and conducting a drug addiction intervention.
You have an emotional attachment and history with that person. A good example of being too close is found in the wonderful play “The Miracle Worker” when the parents of Helen Keller interfere with the professional help they are receiving from Anne O’Sullivan. Mom and dad feel the therapist is too harsh, or moving too quickly, or too inexperienced, or even too unfeeling.
They are too close to Helen and cannot see the entire situation from beginning to end. They do not know what is in Helen’s best interest or how to proceed. They just react emotionally. They are not objective.
If you care, you need help. A trained drug addiction intervention therapist is your best friend. Where you are likely to fail, the professional will succeed over 90% of the time. Drug addiction is serious and life-threatening. If your loved one is addicted, you need to act immediately.
Their situation is not going to improve, because addiction has taken over the love one’s life and does not want treatment. It’s like having a monkey on their back that controls and directs their life. The monkey isn’t going to let them go. Without a drug addiction intervention they are likely to die or end up in jail. A drug addiction intervention, if successful, can change the direction of the addicts life.
Don't underestimate the power of a drug addiction intervention to help!
Another important point to keep in mind is that an intervention, however brief, may make all the difference in the world to getting the addict back on track to restoring his/her health.
Even a short encounter with a drug addiction intervention specialist can prove instrumental in helping someone along. Those short visits may lead to putting them into a rehab program, or at least getting in to see a physician.
Once in the throes of addiction, addicts will no longer be the person they used to be, and as a result, the intervention stages may be difficult for you to witness. Our affection for the person, our feelings get in the way and it is difficult for the family member or friend to remain objective.
The drug addiction intervention therapist is key to putting the addict back on the right path to a healthy and successful life.
“How can I Help?”
The most common question people ask is “What can I do to help someone I love get off of drugs or alcohol?” It is asked by a husband or wife who has seen that loved one slowly slip away as the addiction progresses. It is asked by a brother or sister who is frustrated and feels helpless. The question is asked out of a feeling of helplessness; that empty feeling of not knowing what to do next.
Addiction is a family disease and family members, not just the addict, need to be educated on how to be helpful. It’s not just a matter of telling someone they need to go to treatment. Rather, it’s helping the person understand that the behavior is harmful to themselves and to others. The addict is not necessarily enjoying his/her life, but they stumble along because they need to feel “normal” or they are just trying to get by. Sadly, they usually do not believe they have a problem, no matter how hard their circumstances have become.
Healing and Educational at the same time
An intervention is an educational and healing process. People who have developed an addiction most always will have that moment when somebody tries to convince them that their life is out of control and they need help. But they have to buy into the idea.
If they are feeling great about their life, then an intervention isn’t going to be effective, but if they can see the damage that has been done, there might be an opportunity for a moment of clarity and movement towards treatment. The addict has to want to change, and the family is a strong motivating factor in helping them see the truth of their addiction. They have to understand that treatment is better than chasing the high.
The problem with interventions is simple—people don’t act. They reason out that if a person wants help, then they can do an intervention. That’s not the point. The intervention is designed to help the addict want to get help. Look at it another way, if using is more comfortable than treatment, the addict will use. However, if the family can all get on the same page and show the addict what needs to be done, with consequences, now the idea begins to take root and the person wants help. Families are powerful change agents.
Meeting lead by expert
The intervention itself is just a meeting. The interventionist is a kind of “tour guide” who will help family members do their part. It’s usually more uncomfortable for family members, mainly because most of the time they have been enabling the addict, walking on eggshells at family gatherings and just avoid conflict. When the subject of quitting, or cutting back has come up, the addict blames it on everybody else, refusing to accept any accountability for his actions.
Holidays can be a nightmare, always winding up in a fight. People feel helpless and don’t know what to do, so they argue. They get mad and stomp out of the room. An interventionist will coach them through the process and help them stay on subject, not get angry or frustrated, and do their part. The intervention is designed to make the addict uncomfortable and want to seek treatment, but it is not supposed to be confrontational.
Families are complicated
The family allows the interventionist to take control and guide everyone. Of course, there are families who cannot come together, or are so dysfunctional that they never agree to allow a professional person to help. For whatever reason, maybe that they think they know better or maybe they just can’t or won’t understand. They become a roadblock.
Family systems are complicated, and the family has already played a part in the addiction. They enable the use because it’s the easy way out. They refuse to acknowledge the problem because of the shame it brings, or their own ego. It can be overwhelming. “How did things get so far out of control?” They wonder how this happened.
The interventionist should be skilled in listening and responding to family needs. He/she needs to assure the family that help is possible, gain their confidence and show them a plan that is going to render positive results. Like the addict, the family has to understand that things need to change and that their way of handling the situation hasn’t worked.
When the addict agrees to treatment, the interventionist will take them to a treatment facility where a personalized program will be laid out for the individual.
There is no room for enabling, no room for being the good guy, because the life of the addict may be on the line unless something is done on their behalf. It is sad when family and friends no longer matter. It is even sadder when life does not matter. Don’t be a hero. Get help from a trained professional.
The interventionist knows what questions to ask and what information is necessary to make a proper assessment and an effective strategy for battling the problem. You have an emotional attachment and history with that person.
A good example of being too close is found in the wonderful play “The Miracle Worker” when the parents of Helen Keller interfere with the professional help they are receiving from Anne O’Sullivan. Mom and dad feel the therapist is too harsh, or moving too quickly, or too inexperienced, or even too unfeeling. They are too close to Helen and cannot see the entire situation from beginning to end.
They do not know what is in Helen’s best interest or how to proceed. They just react emotionally. They are not objective.
Don’t Give In
People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol do not believe they have a problem, and if there is a problem, it’s YOUR problem. That is a key idea to remember when trying to help a friend or loved one who is in the clutch of addiction. Just telling that person you are concerned for their health and well being isn’t going to change the addictive behavior. It’s like me telling my dog not to chase the rabbits in the back yard. His brain tells him to chase the rabbits. He’s going to do that.
They Can’t Do It Alone!
Depending on the situation, a person might come to the conclusion that their drug use needs to stop and in some cases there is success. But the majority of people can not just stop using, so they need help. You are not going to stop this yourself, get help. Groups like Al-anon are wonderful for emotional support and guidance.
One Size Does Not Fit All and Keep Trying
An experienced interventionist is your best friend. They understand that all addicts and their families are different, so they make those important adjustments. An intervention, properly done, should succeed over 90% of the time. You may have had an interventionist help in the past, but your loved one relapsed. Nothing says a person can’t go back to treatment. The goal is to get clean and sober, no matter how many attempts it takes.
What happens when you call a treatment center about an intervention?
What happens during an intervention?
What is Alanon and how do I get connected?
Is Alcoholics Anonymous just for people who believe in God?
How do I find an AA meeting?
Why should I go to a support group meeting?
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Dan, Ned and Debbie continue their discussion of the 12 steps reviewing what it takes to get everything out of this important treatment progam, this week on Recovery Now!