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What is a Drug or Alcohol Intervention?

At one point in time, the common thought regarding drug or alcohol addiction was that one had to wait until an addict hit rock bottom before they could be helped. “Rock bottom” is a way to describe the addict arriving at the lowest possible point in their life due to their addiction. This could mean having lost their significant other, their job, and their home, among other things. It could also mean having burned all of the bridges in their life and having no one left to turn to.

Recently, however, this thought has changed. No longer does the medical community look at addicts as those who made bad choices. Instead, science has realized that addiction is a disease that causes literal changes in brain chemistry. Because of this, the model has changed from punishing the addict, to help them gain sobriety and learn to cope with their affliction.

One of the best tools in the arsenal to help an addict is an intervention. This is when the support group surrounding an addict comes together in an effort to get them the help that they need.

Who Participates In an Intervention?

The primary member of an intervention is a professional interventionist. These individuals have specialized training and experience that allows them to assist families and addicts on their path to sobriety. They can help ensure that the intervention is conducted safely.

Other people who should be present at an intervention include:

  • The addict’s children, if old enough
  • Family members like parents, siblings, and close cousins
  • Spouses or significant others
  • Friends and coworkers
  • Concerned clergy or community members

What Is the Purpose of an Intervention?

The main goal of an intervention is getting an addict into rehab or a drug abuse treatment facility. This is an important first step in getting sober. While remaining sober is even more important than the initial sober phase, the addict can’t get there without first ridding their body of the addictive and toxic substance.

It may seem like the support group is ganging up on the addict, but that is not the intention. After years of enabling behavior and excuse making, the intervention is a final stand by the family, stating that they will not take this addiction anymore. This is the drawing of a line, a warning, and a call to action for the addict.

What Happens During an Intervention?

An intervention brings together those who care most about the addict into one place, and with the aid of a professional interventionist with special training in this area, they confront the addict. Each person present tells the addict exactly how they have been negatively impacted by the addiction. They provide examples, they urge the addict to seek help, and they tell them exactly what will happen if they don’t go to rehab. Some examples of consequences could be no longer being allowed to live in their current home, losing their relationship with a spouse or significant other, or their children being removed from their care.

Often an interventionist has each person write a letter to organize their thoughts, which they then read out loud. Contents of this letter can include:

  • Expression of anger toward the addict for their behavior
  • Statements of love and support
  • The impact their addiction has had on their everyday lives
  • Fond memories of the person before their addiction took over
  • Goals that they have for the addict’s future
  • Hope for a better tomorrow

What Are the Signs that an Intervention Is Needed?

The short answer to this is that addiction is present. While some drug users are able to get clean on their own, the number is very low, less than one percent. The vast majority of those who are showing obvious signs of addiction are also in denial, or they rationalize their drug use and behavior. In some cases, especially with co-occurring conditions like depression or bipolar disorder, the addict may even feel that they don’t deserve help. In these cases, an intervention is called for.

Some signs that an individual is suffering from serious addiction and are in need of an intervention include:

  • Frequent arguments with family members and friends over drug use or alcohol consumption
  • Being late/absent for work consistently, or losing their job
  • A new social circle of friends who are drug users or heavy drinkers
  • Never having any money; borrowing or stealing
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Losing interest in things they once loved
  • Erratic or unusual behavior

How Does the Intervention Help?

An intervention works by forcing the addict to see how their addiction is affecting others. It shows them that, despite their excuses and rationalizations, their addition is having a strong negative impact on those who care about them. This can help snap the addict out of their own world. It also provides real-world consequences beyond those that they’ve already experienced. While many addicts will already have lost jobs and friends, the intervention shows them that they can lose the very people closest to them.

Interventions also provide both the addict and their support group with a wealth of information about addiction as a disease, how it functions in the body, and how to help treat and prevent it. It can also foster a feeling of unity, bringing everyone together toward a common goal.

Are Interventions Successful?

If everyone involved holds fast to the plan, the chances of an addict agreeing to go to rehab are high. It is difficult, however, to assign a success rate to interventions as a whole. There are many different methods of intervention, and so many other factors involved in a person’s addiction.

What If the Intervention Doesn’t Work?

Even if an addict doesn’t agree to attend rehab right away, that doesn’t mean that an intervention was unsuccessful. Remember, the primary goal is to convince the individual to attend rehab, but intervention helps in other ways. Everyone will leave the session with a plan to move forward.

The addict knows what their consequences will be if they don’t go to rehab. This alone can be a shocking and jolting realization because in so many cases they’ve been enabled by these people. In some cases, however, the addict does refuse to attend. They usually make excuses as to why they can’t go, promise that they will get help soon, or say that they can do it on their own.

At this point, all that can be done is to stick to the plan that was worked out with the interventionist. If everyone involved stands strong and holds to the consequences they provided, the addict still has an excellent chance of seeking help.

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You’ve Tried Everything, It Seems

And then there is you…the one who has already tried to speak with them. You have already tried to intervene yourself in dozens of different ways. Long talks trying to understand, offers to help or maybe inspirational books.

In later stages, it might turn into begging, pleading and frustrated threats that become the ways many family members will try to intervene. Unfortunately, due to the complex emotional connection that exists between a family member and a substance abuser, it is almost impossible to conduct an unbiased, objective, long-term intervention on a loved one when they are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

We Can Help

You can wait until your loved one gets the intervention that life is going to deal with him or her. But, what exactly is that roll of the dice going to be? Accident, arrest, job gone, house gone, or overdose? Which intervention will unpredictable life hand out to wake your loved one up from their substance abuse?

If your loved one survives that random intervention, what will their story be when they sit down in their support group and tells them why they got sober and is still sober? With a phone call, you have the power to change their story.

Help a loved one today. Call now to begin the process:

Although Intervention Services has extensive experience in many different types of interventions, such as gambling, sex addiction, or other process addictions, our primary focus is and has always been to intervene on a person who is abusing drugs or alcohol. Let Intervention Services help your loved one to find sobriety and recovery.

Need to know more about what makes Intervention Services worth the call? See our About Us page.

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