25 Dec Do Interventions Actually Work?
If you’ve watched a friend or a family member struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you know that it is a complex and heartbreaking situation. The physical and mental disease of addiction makes people behave in ways that destroy relationships, careers, health, and lives. Someone who was once a loving spouse and parent with a thriving career can turn into a person that is completely unrecognizable. A young adult with a promising future can lose their health and drop out of school to spend their days acquiring and using the substances their body and mind have come to crave.
As a friend or family member of someone who is struggling with addiction, you likely want to take action. After all, no one wants to sit by and feel powerless to help their loved one reclaim their health and life from the stranglehold of addiction. However, you might feel overwhelmed and at a loss for what steps to take to help your loved one. One common technique in the addiction treatment sphere is staging an intervention for your loved one.
You might have heard about interventions from the showed aptly-titled, Intervention, which films people who are undergoing interventions, as their friends and family try to convince them to attend rehab. As with many reality shows, Intervention is often explosive and drama-filled, which may make you wonder if interventions are actually effective tools to get someone to go to a rehab program to overcome their addiction. Even if you aren’t on the fence about the effectiveness of interventions, you still likely have questions about how to have an intervention and what to do if the intervention with your loved one fails.
The drug and alcohol treatment professionals at HARP are here to answer all of your burning questions about interventions, including whether interventions are effective, how to stage one, and what to do if the intervention with your loved one fails. After reading this article, you will be armed with the knowledge that will allow you to take concrete steps to help your loved one overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol.
What is an Intervention?
You can view an intervention in many ways. Some people view it as an opportunity for friends and family members to let their loved one know that they love them and to express their concerns about their addiction. Others view it more as a positive form of peer pressure from friends and family members. However, regardless of the viewpoint, the end result is the same – to get the person struggling with addiction to go to a drug and alcohol treatment center to overcome their addiction.
During the intervention, family members and close friends gather together to meet with the person who is struggling with addiction. In many cases, this gathering is a surprise to the person. Once the person is situated, each group member takes turns outlining the ways that they have been harmed by their loved one’s addiction, asking their loved one to seek the treatment they so desperately need, and explaining the consequences, if they do not seek treatment.
For example, the parent of an adult child might explain how their child’s addiction has hurt their relationship and how much they worry about their child’s safety and future. After pleading with their child to go to rehab, the parent might end by telling their child that they will cut off all financial support if they do not go to a drug and alcohol treatment center.
It is common for interventions to be emotionally charged and tense, because family members and friends are discussing the worst ways that their loved one’s drug and alcohol abuse have hurt them. To defuse the tension to some degree, it is important to use “I statements.” These types of statements avoid placing blame on your loved one; instead, they focus on how the substance abuse affects you.
For example, you could say, “I miss the brother who used to come over for dinner and play with the kids. I worry that you are going to die of an overdose.” A statement such as this one outlines the specific types of hurts and suffering that you have experienced to help your loved one see the effects of his behaviors. Illustrating the profound effects of your loved one’s addiction may help them understand the need to change and inspire them to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program.
In some cases, an intervention may be overseen and directed by a trained interventionist or mental health professional. Although it is not necessary to have such a professional present at the intervention, it can be very helpful for a number of reasons. Because an interventionist has experience organizing and directing interventions, they can help you plan the intervention in advance and guide the event to make it as productive as possible.
They can also serve as an unbiased third party who provides a voice of reason if the intervention becomes particularly heated. It can be difficult to try to reason with someone whose reasoning has been impaired the use of substances like drugs and alcohol, but a trained interventionist or mental health professional can offer tools and insights that can help make it easier.
At the end of the intervention, your loved one will have the option to go directly to a drug and alcohol treatment program. The best outcome is that your loved one agrees to seek treatment. If this is the case, your loved one should go to treatment immediately after the intervention, if possible. Going to a drug and alcohol treatment program directly on the heels of the intervention gives your loved one the inspiration and momentum to move forward with their treatment and recovery. It also reduces the likelihood that your loved one will change their mind about attending a treatment program.
If your loved one refuses to go to a drug and alcohol treatment program, you might be disappointed. You may even feel like all of your work and effort has been pointless. However, you can still take action if your loved one refuses to go to treatment. Should your loved one tell you that they will not go to rehab, you need to explain to them the consequences of their decision.
All of the consequences that you list should be behaviors that you are able and willing to follow through with. If you are not able to follow through with this type of tough love, your loved one will not be motivated to change their behavior and get treatment. When you provide and deliver real consequences you present seeking treatment for addiction as the obvious and most rewarding choice for your loved one.
Are Interventions Effective?
Whether interventions are successful depends on your definition of success. Some people consider an intervention successful if it convinces their loved one to go to rehab, while others only consider it successful if their loved one recovers from their addiction after attending a treatment program. People who suffer from an addiction to drugs or alcohol are more likely to seek treatment for their addiction if they participate in an intervention. However, interventions may not have as big of an influence on treatment success.
An intervention is often the last resort for family members and close friends who are trying to get through to their loved one who has consistently refused treatment or relapsed into drug and alcohol abuse. As a result, people who undergo an intervention tend to be more deeply involved in their addiction. If a person goes to treatment after an intervention without being fully committed to getting clean and sober, they might not recover from their addiction. However, someone else who has access to high-quality addiction treatment and social support from their friends and family members is more likely to overcome their addiction.
It is impossible to predict with complete certainty whether an intervention will be effective in convincing someone to go to a drug rehab center and recover from addiction. After all, human beings are not always easy to predict, especially when they are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. However, mental health professionals have outlined factors that can help determine whether an intervention will be effective or whether it will have the opposite effect on the person.
- Timing of the intervention: Don’t schedule the intervention for a time when your loved one is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or intense stress. You want to have your loved one’s full attention and you don’t want them to come into the intervention agitated. As a result, avoid scheduling the intervention if they are getting ready to go to work or have just experienced a big life change like a breakup or a job loss.
- Method of delivery: Don’t yell at your loved one or make them feel bad. An intervention is not a time for you to vent or make your loved one feel guilty. The goal is to show your loved one how their addiction has hurt the people they love. Be sure to clearly distinguish between your loved one and the disease of addiction. You also want to be as specific as you can when you’re discussing how your loved one’s addiction has affected you. For example, don’t tell them that their addiction has hurt your friendship. Tell them that their addiction has broken the trust that you used to share because they have stolen from you to buy drugs.
- Plan of attack. Interventions are most effective if they are quick and to the point. To avoid going on a rambling rant, make a list in advance of what you want to say and then try to keep it to about five minutes in length. As part of your plan, you’ll also want to have drug and alcohol treatment lined up for them. Do your research to make sure that your loved one’s insurance will pay for the program, the center has openings, and the program will fit with your loved one’s needs, values, and beliefs. If your loved one wants to look at other programs, offer to help them find an alternative treatment program.
- Have consequences: Prepare a list of the consequences for refusing to go to rehab in advance. Again, you want to make sure that you can follow through on the consequences because you don’t want your loved one to see consequences as empty and meaningless threats. Your loved one won’t change their behavior if you don’t change yours.
When you reach the point of having to have an intervention with your loved one, you’ve likely tried many tactics to reach them. It can be frustrating and emotional, but keep in mind that an intervention can be an effective way to get your loved one to go to a drug and alcohol treatment program. For the intervention to be successful, you need to remember the tips listed in this article. If you ever start to get angry and frustrated with your loved one, just remember your ultimate goal of getting them clean and sober. Getting angry will not help anyone accomplish this goal.
If you have questions about the HARP methodology and our approach to addiction treatment, you can contact our knowledgeable drug and alcohol treatment professionals for more information about getting your loved one the help they need. If someone you love needs to get help for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the HARP experts are here to offer treatment and support.
HARP specializes in the treatment of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Experienced medical professionals and addiction treatment specialists provide supervised detox, counseling, and long-term resources to ensure that your loved one has a comfortable and productive stay at our center before they return home – clean and sober. With help and support, recovery from addiction is possible. HARP can help your loved one live an addiction-free life.