Not every person struggling with substance abuse will seek out treatment on his own. Sometimes it takes an intervention to begin the recovery process.
An addiction intervention is a staged event, where a group of an addict’s close friends, family members, and loved ones gather to express how the person’s addiction is affecting both him and the group’s lives. These concerned individuals intend to intervene in their loved one’s life so that they can prevent continued addiction and be proactive in starting the individual’s recovery.
Some people argue that addiction interventions do more damage than good, saying that you can’t force someone into getting treatment. This is untrue. Plenty of people enter treatment against their will, whether it’s a result of a court order or a means to keep child custody, license, or job. Most people never want to go to rehab in the first place, so the notion of being “forced” there is irrelevant.
What addiction interventions do; however, is effectively communicate to the individual how his addiction has affected his social circle. Some people lost in addiction feel as though they are the only one suffering, only to find out through an intervention that their loved ones were suffering right alongside them. This can trigger an “epiphany” of sorts in the addict that they need to change and seek treatment, thus motivating the recovery process to begin.
Other addicts may view interventions as their ultimate “rock bottom,” realizing their addiction has gotten so bad that their loved ones had to gather around to try to stop them. This can be particularly effective if children, spouses, or very close friends are present to express their concerns.
The goal of an addiction intervention is to get the addict into treatment as soon as possible, often that same day.
It can be difficult to determine whether someone is struggling with addiction. So many people are able to function normally without giving the impression they are abusing substances, but there are signs and symptoms of addiction that can be detected.
Generally, people closest to the addict will be able to notice the subtle changes that occur in the beginning of an addiction, such as changes in personality, schedule, and habits. Friends and family may occasionally try to point out a concerning pattern to the individual, only to be met with resistance and denial. This is important to note and should be an indication that something may be going on in the person’s private life.
Spotting addiction ultimately varies by individual, based on his personality and the substance(s) he is using. Concerned friends and family may have to have a private discussion together to gauge if everyone has noticed a change in the specific individual that should be addressed.
Still, if you would like to know if someone has an addiction, read below for some common signs of addiction.
Secretive behavior or sudden change in personality
Missing school or work
Frequent problems at school/work, e.g. suspension, unable to hold a job
Hanging out with a new group of friends
Leaving the house at weird hours
No longer concerned with personal appearance and hygiene
Frequent sluggish behavior
Borrowing or stealing money
Intense mood swings
Suddenly disappearing for a day or more, then returning with no explanation
Scabs and blisters on their skin, along with rotting teeth, if using meth
Sneaking liquor into places or food
Decrease in health, looking sick
Sudden lack of social media use, alarming only if they used social media frequently before
If you suspect a loved one may be suffering from an addiction, it may be time to hold an intervention to convince him to seek treatment. If you would like to learn more about addiction and addiction treatment, call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070 and one of our call agents will assist you right away. Don’t wait. Call now.
HOW TO STAGE AN ADDICTION INTERVENTION
If you recognize symptoms of addiction or substance abuse in a person you care for and have tried talking to the individual privately to no avail, it may be necessary to hold an intervention.
Now, there is debate on the efficacy of interventions, but more often than not, the end result is the addict accepting treatment day of or very soon. Even when it seems like an intervention “failed,” the addict might just be mulling over the conversation. No matter what, do not give up on the individual and continue to show them that you are available for support.
Interested parties may contact addiction treatment centers in advance and receive help on how to get the addict into treatment as soon as possible. The following will show people who are considering staging an intervention what to do and expect:
Confronting anyone about his addiction can be dangerous. Even with good intentions, friends and family members should not attempt to stage an intervention by themselves.
Interventionists are trained to maintain a calm environment and guide the conversation into a positive direction.
Interventionists also act as a mediator between parties, keep conversation on track and away from fighting, and will help the addict come out of denial and accept the need for treatment.
There are no standards for what an intervention group should include. Those close to the addict should be involved, as well as anyone who directly affects and influences their lives. Common participants are: parents, siblings, close friends, spouses or partners, and other close family members (e.g. aunts, uncles, and cousins).
If the addict is currently or was recently employed, managers and coworkers are also encouraged to talk about how the person’s addiction affected the work environment.
Children and grandparents may also participate. Intervention specialists can help prepare these participants on how to handle and respond to any intense language or violence that may occur.
People participating in the intervention group will be able to get education on addiction, drug and alcohol treatment, and what to expect in recovery.
Interventionists will also teach people how to effectively communicate their feelings without coming off as an attack to the addict.
Participants will prepare statements for the intervention, getting a chance to express how the addict’s past actions have affected them personally.
Interventions may take weeks of rehearsals and setting up so they everyone is ready. The goal is to get treatment for the addict, so be patient and prepare.
Intervention meeting locations should be somewhere an addict is familiar with and feels safe in, such as a parental home or a friend’s place. This will help put the addict at ease.
Meeting times should be scheduled around times when the person is normally sober, such as right after they get off work.
On average, interventions last between 30 and 90 minutes, but variations occur. The impact of an intervention can have an addict accept treatment in five minutes or require hours of talking it out.
Intervention specialists are trained to avoid as much conflict as possible, but situations can escalate very quickly, so be prepared.
In the event that the addict becomes hostile, the interventionist will be there to negotiate with and calm down the individual.
Children and elderly participants should begin to leave the area if the intervention becomes too intense. If possible, also remove potential weapons.
If the threat of violence or serious injury is approaching, call 911 immediately and do not attempt to handle the situation yourself.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN INTERVENTION
The goal of every intervention to have the individual accept that he needs to get addiction treatment, and often many clients are checked into a rehab center that same day. If you received an intervention specialist from a specific treatment center, he may volunteer to coordinate travel from where you are located straight to the facility. Other options are having plane tickets ready or money available to purchase next-day flights to the treatment location.
The idea is to now allow the addict to think about drug treatment and then get cold feet because he’s scared of drug or alcohol withdrawal, how much it might cost, or get anxious about not using substances ever again. You can also volunteer to participate in family group therapy sessions if the treatment center allows for it and travel is possible.
Participants involved in an intervention group gathered together because they care about the individual with addiction, but the help does not stop after the intervention.
After alcohol and drug treatment, the recovering addict will be vulnerable to temptation, new beginnings, and the stress that comes with life after treatment. One of the first things they will need as they begin their recovery is a solid support system, which begins with the very intervention group that got them into treatment in the first place.
Help prepare them for their life back in the real world and set goals for them to achieve now that they are sober, like getting a job, finding a place to live, or going through the legal process to get child custody. Be the shoulder they can rely on.
Whether you’re calling them before and after their meetings or volunteering to drive and attend meetings with them, do everything you can for the first year of their recovery to get them into the habit of going to support groups.
By having 12-Step meetings be an active part of their new lifestyle, they will understand what it takes to live life sober and how to achieve real, serious recovery time. Offer to speak or listen with them at meetings to show your support for their recovery. Get in touch with their sponsors and keep in contact with them as a casual check-up, but do not treat the sponsor as a guard dog over your loved one.
Reestablishing trust will be a long, hard effort, so understand that your ambition to help them may also come off as a lack of trust that they can attend meetings on their own. Always offer to help them as a sign of your support and love.
If the recovering person is going to be moving back into their home, offer to clean and clear their house of any drug paraphernalia. Get rid of tools used to take substances, leftover substances or alcohol, and any liquor bottles. It may also be good to be with them as they get home, in case you need to dispose of anything else that triggers their addiction. They will be sensitive to many things right after rehab.
If moving back home might be a trigger in itself—as in they live in a sketchy neighborhood or with people who still use—then you might want to suggest they enter a sober living facility, where they can stay until they get on their feet. Residents of sober living facilities usually operate around a rolling rent process until they land a steady job and can afford to live in an apartment on their own. Always do research on whether the sober living home is reputable and has a good track record.
Don’t offer too many financial favors, if any at all, in the beginning. It may seem like you are being unsupportive, but it’s the exact opposite. The recovering individual has to learn how to take care of themselves by themselves, so that they know how to live on their own, sober, and addiction-free. Be supportive of their recovery by other means than being an open wallet to them. With hard work, they’ll be fine on their own.