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Some time ago, many people thought that addicts could only be treated successful after they had hit rock bottom. At this point, addiction - and the resultant destructive behaviors arising from it - would affect the life of the addict to such a large extent that they would be forced to seek treatment.

However, the past few years have changed this line of thinking. This is because many in the medical community now realize that addiction is an intricate and complex condition and not simply a lifestyle of choice. As a direct result, most attention is now being paid to helping those who are addicted - instead of punishing them.

Enter intervention. Through drug and alcohol intervention, the family members and loved ones of an addict gather together to help and encourage them to seek treatment for their condition before it gets out of hand.

Understanding Interventions

At its most basic, an intervention can be defined as the process through which the friends and family of an addict - with or without the help of a professional intervention specialist (or interventionist) and counselors - try to show the addict that their behaviors are becoming destructive. The process is conducted in such a way that the addict is compelled enough to choose treatment immediately.

While most of the people who participate in interventions are the family members of the addict, today anyone with a loving, sincere, and vested relationship with the addict can participate.

Apart from the psychological and medical treatment providers of the addict, those who can participate include:

  • Adult family members, including parents and siblings
  • The children of the addict
  • Members from the religious and pastoral community the addict belongs to
  • The colleagues and friends of the addiction
  • Their significant others and partners

However, it is also important to get professional help from people who are trained to handle alcohol and drug interventions. These experts will provide the friends and family of the addict with all the information they need to successfully conduct a safe and thorough intervention.

Intervention Goals

Ideally, the immediate outcome of a substance intervention would be to compel the addict to such an extent that they immediately see the light and stop abusing drugs and other intoxicating substances.

However, this is not always possible and isn't the goal of any intervention. Instead, interventions should be planned, designed, and executed in such a way that the purpose would be to convince the addict to seek treatment by immediately checking into a drug rehabilitation facility, typically on an inpatient or residential basis.

To this end, so many interested parties gather with the specific aim of confronting the addict. However, their goal is not to gang up on them. Rather, they meet up to show the addict just how their addiction has become widespread and devastating, the number of people it is affecting, and the fact that help is always available - at that exact moment - should they accept it.

However, interventions can also be used as final warnings of sorts in the sense that although those participating love and care about the addict, they will no longer participate in helping them destroy their lives.

Using Addiction Specalists And Interventionists

You might also want to consult interventionists and addiction experts - such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social work, or a drug addiction and alcoholism counselor. They will help you plan and organize a successful and effective intervention.

These experts will consider the particular circumstances that surround the case of substance abuse and addiction and suggest the best way to approach the addict. They might also provide you with guidance on the different types of treatment available and help you craft a follow-up plan to ensure your loved one is better able to overcome their addiction.

Although you can conduct the intervention without the help or presence of an interventionist, having one is more preferable and often tends to yield better results in the long run.

At times, therefore, you might choose to host the intervention at their professional office. You might also have them in attendance at the actual drug intervention. This is because they may help you stick to your guns and stay on track, particularly if the loved one who is addicted also:

  • Has a history of innate violence, either naturally or as a result of persistent drug abuse
  • Has a history of severe mental health issues
  • Has shown suicidal tendencies or behavior in the recent past
  • Uses several intoxicating and mind altering substances

You should also consult with these professionals particularly if you suspect that your loved one is highly likely to react to the intervention in a self-destructive and/or violent way.

How Interventions Work

The first step in setting up a drug and alcohol intervention is to determine the kind of help the addict might already have sought for themselves. For instance, you might want to find out if they already have a counselor that they see on a regular basis.

APA (the American Psychological Association) prohibits psychologists and counselors from discussing any of the confidential interactions they have with their patients or clients. However, you can still talk to them to find out whether the time has come for a drug intervention to occur as well as the likelihood of such an intervention being successful. The counselor/psychologist might also choose to form part of the intervening group/process.

As far as possible, those organizing the intervention should ensure that it takes place in a safe and calm environment without any external distractions. Anyone present and who has some stake in the results and outcomes of the process should also participate fully.

For instance, although young children might not be able to actively participate or focus, they need to be shown how to do so - as long as the content and discussions are not too mature for them to understand or hear.

Where possible, everyone who plans to attend the drug and alcohol intervention should receive adequate training. In many instances, addicts wrong their family members, colleagues, neighbors, and loved ones - financially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. In spite of the best intentions of the participants, therefore, they might allow anger and rage to take over while the intervention is underway. If this happens, the addict may be pushed back even further into their destructive habits and behavior.

Instead, those participating need to use the opportunity to show the addict that they are still loved. As far as possible, they should never use the opportunity to address their anger. This is why training before the intervention happens is so useful.

Participants should also write down - in advance - everything they would wish to air out at the intervention. These might include:

  • How the addict's behavior has wrongly affected them on a personal level
  • Statements of unconditional love and support for the addict with promises that they will no longer be allowed, aided, abetted, enabled, or helped to destroy themselves
  • The changes they noticed in the level of self-control, reliability, responsibility, and personality of the addict
  • The goals and dreams they have for the addict after they undergo treatment
  • The impact of the behavior of the addict on their shared relationship

Last but not least, as you go about planning an intervention, you should ensure that you have reserved a space at a reliable and trustworthy addiction treatment and rehabilitation center. This way, the addict can go straight from the intervention to the treatment facility.

Structuring An Intervention

Even though therapists and medical professionals have been trained to intervene when their patients show signs and symptoms of addiction and substance abuse, this is not so with the friends and family of people with these signs.

Luckily, you can find many other resources to help you structure an effective and successful intervention. For instance, you could talk to a professional interventionist, a psychotherapist, general practitioner, or social worker to help you.

That said, there are some guidelines you should following when you are trying to intervene in a drug and alcohol abuse problem:

a) Plan First

Never conduct an addiction intervention without first taking the time to plan. This is because it is essential that you know what you are going to say - as well as how you intend to say it - to encourage the addict to seek the help they need.

In the same way, ensure that you plan the interventions for times when it is highly likely that the addict will be sober and free of the influence of drugs/alcohol.

b) Research

After that, you should research the particular addiction or substance abuse problem they are experiencing. By so doing, you will be better placed to speak more specifically about all the concerns and warning signs that the addict might be displaying.

c) Membership

If possible, only one person should lead the drug intervention. You should also ensure that the addict likes and would be excited to see everyone participating - meaning that you should ensure you do not invite people they dislike or wouldn't want to see.

You can also get a professional interventionist to attend and/or to lead the discussions.

d) Execution

During the actual interventions, it would also help if you can anticipate the addict's objections beforehand. This way, you will have ready, more compelling answers to these objections. However, try as hard as you can to refrain from using humiliating tactics or blaming statements.

Where possible, you should also stay on track with the initial plan your made. This way, you will be better able to focus on encouraging them so that they do not choose the least effective alternative.

Last but not least, ask them to make the decision to attend or not to attend rehabilitation immediately. Initially, they might refuse the help you are offering. However, the mere fact that they know that you can still support them when they decide to seek help is a clear step towards the right direction.

Therefore, you should ensure that the addict knows that they have everything they need - including resources and support - in case they decide to undergo detox, rehabilitation and treatment. This could motivate them enough to take up the offer and start seeking addiction treatment.

Importance Of Staging An Intervention

While staging an intervention, you should take the time to ensure that you have everything sorted out beforehand. For instance, it is imperative that you arrange for addiction detox, treatment and rehabilitation even before the actual event happens.

In most cases, you may have anywhere between 24 and 48 hours to ensure that your loved one gets into treatment after they have agreed to the help you are providing. This relatively short time period will ensure that your loved one does not get the opportunity to decide to change their mind before the official work of treatment can start.

In the same way, you should remember that the sooner an addict receive treatment, the greater the chances of success they might have in their recovery, rehabilitation, and long term sobriety.

This is because addiction is a peculiar condition that affects its victims differently. While the user might seem healthy and in good form one moment, they may end up overdosing, engaging in risky behavior that could harm themselves and others, or even committing suicide.

Additionally, addicts tend to think that they are in full control of the situation. However, the truth of the matter is that addiction is a condition that is often accompanied by denial, among other effects. Therefore, the situation might be worse than both the addict and all loved ones realize.

At the end of the day, you should remember that interventions work and they are among the most effective ways you can compel an addict to seek treatment.

Over and above everything else, staging an intervention takes a great deal of planning, working, and strategizing. Although this might seem like a lot, it is not - especially when you consider the socio-economic costs of addiction and the toll it takes on relationships, health, mental wellness, and life. Therefore, the earlier you host one, the sooner it might be that your loved one with an addiction will receive the help they need.

Find Resources

If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.

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