Drug and Alcohol Addiction Intervention
Watching a friend or family member destroy their life with drugs and alcohol is painful. You witness their slow motion destruction by disease. And in the addict's wake: friends, family, and you. Sometimes when dealing with an addicted loved one the only solution is a drug and alcohol intervention. The goal of the intervention is get that person to accept treatment.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is when family, friends and even an employer confront a person about the consequences of their addiction. Each person will give examples of the addict's destructive behavior and how it's affected that person. They will state clearly what they will do (e.g. cut off financial support, divorce, loss of job, etc.) if their loved one refuses treatment.
The main goal of the intervention is to have that person accept treatment immediately. A treatment program should be pre-arranged.
If you're unsure about whether your loved one has an addiction and needs an intervention, ask yourself these questions. Answering "yes" to any of them could indicate an addiction.
- Have you been hurt, embarrassed or scared by this person's behaviors?
- Have you ever lied to cover for this person's drug or alcohol use?
- Do you feel like no one understands you?
- Has this person lost a lot of weight recently?
- Has this person's moods changed dramatically recently?
- Are you worried about being with your loved one in social situations because of their behavior from alcohol or drugs?
- Do you feel like a failure because you can't control your loved one's problem?
- Does your employee miss work frequently because you suspect there is a drug or alcohol problem?
- Do other employees tell you that this person has a problem with drugs or alcohol?
The Drug and Alcohol Intervention Process
Organize the Group-- A family member or friend decides to intervene and asks other friends and family members to help. This group discusses their loved one's problem. They research the addiction and potential treatment programs.
Meet with an Interventionist--An interventionist is someone trained and licensed to facilitate the intervention. They are typically a counselor, educator or psychiatrist. And they should be licensed by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC) and the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).
Decide on an Approach--The group will meet with the interventionist to discuss the addiction and how best to intervene. The interventionist will provide common addict objections, and how to overcome them. The group will find a treatment program and make arrangements to enroll their loved one.
Here you'll also decide whether you want to invite the person to the intervention. Or surprise them with the meeting. The surprise approach is called the Johnson Institute Intervention. With the surprise approach, the person will often react defensively, which can compromise the intended outcome--treatment. Decide on the approach, set a day for the intervention and arrange for a treatment program.
The invitational approach--similar in many ways to the Johnson approach--is called A.R.I.S.E. It stands for A Relational Intervention Sequence of Engagement.
Write a letter of Concern--Each person writes a letter describing his or her love and concern. Describe how that person was before the addiction. Then talk about why you are concerned now. Give specific examples of how their drug and/or alcohol abuse has negatively affected your life. Describe how this made you feel and what costs there were to the relationship. Often the addict is oblivious to the harm he has done to those around him.
Rehearse the Intervention--this should be done at the same that the letters are written.
The emotions of family and friends will be high with years of pain surfacing at one time. So it's important that each person talks to the addict in a sincere and non-judgmental way. Depending on your approach (surprise or invitation), the person's response could be angry, confrontational, scared, or maybe relieved.
Each member of the group reads their letter. Tell your loved one that unless they receive treatment, they will be on their own--no more financial support, no more ignoring their behavior, whatever the pre-determined consequences are.
If they agree to treatment, the interventionist should escort the addict to treatment right away. Have a suitcase already packed for them.
If they Refuse Treatment?
Statistics show that from 85% to 90% of people enter treatment as a result of an intervention. But even for those few that refuse, you've taken important steps.
- You'll no longer enable them.
- The addiction is out in the open.
- Family and friends now understand the addiction and are better prepared to deal with their loved one in the future.
A drug and alcohol intervention can help save families and friends from the devastation of disease. If the process is thought out with an interventionist, the intervention can be the successful first step to getting a loved one clean.