What’s An Intervention?

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

When it gets to the point that you’re considering an intervention, you may be wondering what even is an intervention. It’s obvious that addiction damages the life of the addict as well as the lives of those around them. But is an intervention the right approach for a loved one?

Drug abuse or substance abuse of any kind can destroy the very fabric of the family unit, causing irreparable harm to relationships. It can destroy careers, end marriages, dissolve friendships, and cause serious legal troubles that will haunt the addict long after they finally get clean. Drug abuse tears families apart and leaves a scorched Earth in its wake. If your loved one is suffering from an addiction problem, you’re probably researching what can be done or at least have done so at some point. At this point, you’ve almost certainly had numerous conversations of confrontations with the addict. If they are still using, it’s clear that addiction has taken over. There is no better time to stage an intervention for your loved one.

Is an Intervention the Right Approach for a Loved One?

The addict may already suffer dire consequences of his actions but is still using. It’s not common for addicts to have lost everything and to be living on the street, sometimes for years, before seeking treatment. Therefore, early intervention can be key in helping your addicted loved one before they travel down the path of self-ruin.

The research shows that 75% of patients who go through intervention have better outcomes than those who don’t. Once you’re aware of the addiction, you need to stop enabling it. There are all sorts of relevant studies that talk about the relationships within the family units and the effects on a child who eventually became addicted to drugs or alcohol.

You may have heard about interventions and how they can be successful in getting people to admit they need help. An intervention is a staged gathering with friends and family in an attempt to convince their addicted loved one to get the help they need. When planning your intervention, you may want to have a doctor or interventionist present to help guide the process as well as the following:

  • Personal, non-attacking letters to your loved one
  • A plan of action for treatment
  • An ultimatum should your loved one reject the offer of getting help

Being prepared for the intervention is vital in getting the person to see how much their addiction is affecting themselves and those around them. As you’ll learn, the key here is a unified message from all intervention attendees. Any faltering or signs of reluctance will be viewed by the addict as an opportunity to exploit at a later date.

Warning Signs that It’s Time for an Intervention

Depending on how severe the addiction is, the point at which the addict knows they have a problem has likely passed some time ago. Addiction is a brain disease and makes it challenging for someone to stop. At this point, an intervention is necessary.

For the family, the last recourse is to stage an intervention to deliver ultimatums necessary to compel the addict to seek treatment. The choice to go to detox and addiction treatment still rests with the addict, regardless of the ultimatums given by the family during an intervention. They need to make the choice to seek treatment and remain clean and sober for themselves. Only then is recovery possible.

The key here is understanding that the intervention has but one purpose: to make it clear through ultimatums that the addict either seeks treatment or the family will cease all contact and leave the addict to their own devices. There can be no faltering, no wavering, no hesitance, and no excuses. They either go immediately into treatment or are cut off. All family members and family must show no signs of weakness or reluctance during the intervention.

Sometimes, families can stage an intervention that actually works and help their loved ones, but they need to know the signs to look for before the addiction becomes so heavy. If you’ve never been around someone who’s suffering from addiction in the past, it can be difficult to spot the signs for yourself. The following are top signs to know when it’s time for an intervention.

Health Effects

Addiction can cause serious health risks to those suffering from addiction. Exposure to HIV through the use of shared needles is among these risks. There are many other diseases ranging from liver diseases to dental issues (with meth addiction).

If you have noticed a decline in your loved one’s health, it is obvious that it’s time to stage an intervention. Many people who suffer from drug and alcohol abuse live in denial about the effects of their addiction. While they may suffer from a variety of health conditions they may never admit that these issues stem from their substance abuse.

During the intervention, you can address their health issues and how recovery can help them heal.

Effects on the Family and Finances

When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, those around them are negatively affected. Children living in a home with an addicted parent often suffer from abuse, neglect, or feelings of guilt and anger. Other relationships become strained. Friends start to disappear and the addict typically starts hanging around a whole different crowd. Marriages often dissolve under the strain of addiction.

The financial burden of addiction can also take a great toll on the family. We often hear stories about a spouse discovering their partner’s addiction only when checks start bouncing. At this point, the family is broke, bankrupt and one of the primary income earners is no longer capable of working. It is challenging to keep a steady job when all one can think about is using again.

Legal Problems

Many people addicted to drugs or alcohol don’t realize the extent of their addiction. That is until they are being charged with a felony. A felony stays on your record for life.

At this point, the addiction has caused an issue that will haunt them long after recovery. Early intervention could have prevented this. Sadly, many families tolerate addiction until it is a serious problem with the law. This is baffling to researchers who have found that in 83% of interventions, the family had known for some time about the addiction.

If your loved one is facing or has faced charges for drug or alcohol-related offenses, a substance abuse program is long overdue. Is an intervention the right approach for a loved one when they have legal trouble? Absolutely.

Staging and intervention will allow you to gather all of their friends and family members and be open and honest (yet non-threateningly) about your feelings. This may be just the push your loved one needs to finally get the needed treatment. It may also provide a small amount of relief for their legal problems.

Supporting a loved one means doing so at every point of the recovery process, starting with the first discussion.

Getting Help for an Intervention

If you’re loved one struggles with addiction, an intervention lead by the advice of a specialist is the best course of action. Before you organize the intervention, it is important that you have a plan in place. You will need to know exactly what problems you want to address and practice saying them without anger in your voice. Raising your voice and being accusatory toward the person suffering from addiction will only serve to push them further away.

You may wish to have an interventionist present in case the situation was to get out of hand. Have a plan of action (an ultimatum) if your loved one refuses treatment and be prepared to stick with it. Have a treatment plan in place so that they may be admitted immediately after the intervention if they agree.

Programs may include:

Contact Renaissance Recovery today by calling to learn more for help with interventions. It’s never too early or too late to help your loved one, call our Orange County drug rehab today.

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country