DRUG ADDICTION AND ALCOHOLISM INTERVENTIONS
Have you ever said to yourself something along the lines of, “If he/she would just listen to me,” “He/she needs to change who they hang-out with,” or, “If he/she’d just stop using drugs and drinking alcohol, everything would be fine?” If you have reached the point that you are reading this page, you have likely already set limits, given ultimatums, and bailed your loved one out of trouble more than once. Your loved one may have already attended an inpatient or residential drug and alcohol rehab. Unfortunately, drug addiction and alcoholism are chronic, relapsing and remitting diseases and require constant maintenance care and perseverance by both the patient and the recovery alliance to achieve long-term sobriety. The good news is that many addicts and alcoholics have found true recovery.
Most addiction interventions are not well-planned and are carried out in the “heat of the moment”. These spontaneous, event-activated interventions are rarely successful and routinely end in arguments and hurt feelings. Successful interventions are most typically well-planned and are done with a fair amount of consideration. Remember, the purpose of the addiction intervention is to help a loved one, and to improve the lives of those that are also affected by the loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction.
The goal of an intervention should not be to point out one’s errors or flaws. When planning an addiction intervention, the goal must be scrutinized beforehand and this goal must be relayed to the addict or alcoholic at the beginning of the process. If the goal of the intervention is anything other than helping the drug addict or alcoholic and restoring strength to the recovery alliance unit, the intervention would be best performed by another party.
When going about helping a drug addict or alcoholic through a planned intervention, it is key to remember that addiction is a medical disease and is rarely a choice. No matter how hard an addict may try to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol, it may seem that it is just impossible. Much the same as a diabetic who cannot decrease their blood sugar by sheer willpower, an addict requires medical care to gain stability and achieve recovery.
Drug addiction and alcoholism interventions should be carried out quickly and precisely to be effective. The recovery alliance and the addict or alcoholic will surely have multiple issues to discuss, but this discourse should be held after the intervention has been carried out and the patient is safely in treatment. Once in treatment, the patient’s therapist and the clinical team will be able to give sound advice regarding the most appropriate time to discuss various topics.
An intervention can be organized and facilitated by any concerned party, including family members, significant others, friends, coworkers, legal entities, church members or any other related party. Drug addiction and alcoholism interventions are most successful when there is more than one person involved in the planning, organization and performance of the intervention. Anyone who is likely to be unable to follow-through with the plan, the consequences for failure to adhere to the plan, or insist on the addict or alcoholic immediately entering treatment should be excluded from the intervention and should avoid contact with the person until they are in treatment.
A well-planned intervention will include prior discussions between the persons involved in the intervention and each person should write a “care letter,” or “carefrontation” letter that will be read to the patient. The letter should include the writer’s concerns on how the drug addict or alcoholic’s substance use has led to destructive behaviors and what the consequences of the substance use have been. Detailing examples of specific events is useful, as are descriptions of how the person’s mood and emotional stability have been affected. It is also appropriate to note any effects that the substance use
has had on family, friends, coworkers, and any legal issues. Remember every individual is responsible for their own feelings, so it is critical that “I” statements are used rather than “you” statements. For example, instead of writing, “you make me feel sad when you…,” one should write, “I feel sad when you…”
An addiction intervention should not be performed without a clear plan of expectations. The most important expectation is that the addict or alcoholic enter treatment. The treatment facility and process, as well as the financial and any necessary travel arrangements, should be finalized by the recovery alliance prior to the intervention. If possible, the addict or alcoholic’s belongings that will be necessary for treatment should be gathered and packed beforehand.
Finally, a specific consequence for not following through with the plan should be explained by each person who participates in the intervention. One consequence may be that the person immediately seek drug and alcohol rehab if a relapse after treatment occurs. The consequences are not put in place to punish the addiction sufferer, but rather to protect them and the recovery alliance. The typical addiction intervention should be quick, not lasting more than 1 – 2 hours, and should not progress into an argument. It is common that the addict or alcoholic will need a bit of alone time to process the event and to finalize their decision after the intervention.
To summarize, an addiction intervention is performed by following these steps:
- Gather the group members of the recovery alliance and plan the intervention.
- Write care letters with consequences, using “I” statements.
- Locate treatment and arrange travel and financial needs.
- Pack the addict or alcoholic’s belongings beforehand, when possible.
- Stick to the plan and the content of the letters and don’t engage in an argument.
- When reading the letters, present the facts, rather than an overabundance of feelings.
It may be necessary to involve an addiction professional, such as a therapist, psychiatrist, or professional interventionist, either before the addiction intervention or during the addiction intervention. Behavioral Wellness and Recovery employs Addiction Specialists who are on-call 24/7 to assist you with your intervention. Because addiction interventions my go smore smoothly when an unrelated and unbiased party is involved, we encourage you to call us when you are considering an intervention. Not only can our staff help you through the intervention process, but we can directly intervene with the addict or alcoholic. The addiction sufferer may be more likely hearing the information presented from a third party, than a person to whom they are emotionally connected.
Our staff at Behavioral Wellness and Recovery is available 24/7 to help you and your loved on. You may call us anytime on our confidential helpline at 800-683-4457 to speak with an Addiction Specialist and help you loved one regain his/her life.
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