Isn’t it unkind for us to “spring” an intervention on our loved one?
No. Approaches which don’t work, no matter how well intentioned, like bargaining, pleading, and threatening are unkind. Participating in a quality intervention is the most loving thing you can do for someone refusing help. It is a powerful and proven tool. The privacy required to plan appropriately for loving intervention should never be compared to the secrecy required to keep an addiction thriving.
Our family member refuses to even admit he has a problem? Doesn’t he have to “hit bottom” before he will be willing to get help?
Interventions are designed to break through your loved one’s blinding denial and self deception. Many who have experienced intervention point to this experience as the moment they “hit bottom”. Some “hit bottom” during treatment. Interventions help folks choose treatment sooner rather than later. The likelihood of quality recovery even with treatment decreases dramatically over time.
But, wouldn’t it still be better to wait for our loved one to want help first?
No. Addiction is treatable whenever someone is willing to get help. The goal of intervention is to move someone from refusing help to being willing to get help. The best available tool to encourage someone to seek help immediately is intervention. Waiting for someone who is hooked to “wake up” or suddenly “on his own” to choose help is statistically highly unlikely.
Why do people hooked on addictions finally choose help?
In short the answer is intervention. Some interventions are positive; some negative. Choosing help is virtually always because of outside pressure of some kind–some kind of intervention. Some form of intervention interrupts the addiction’s progressive destruction. Auto accidents, arrest, discovery, institutionalization, termination and attacks by predators may disrupt an addictive process sufficiently to cause someone to seek help. A loving, well designed intervention does this too. The goal of intervention is for your loved one to choose help now before another unplanned irreversibly negative intervention occurs.
What is the most dangerous step a family can take when someone they love is hooked?
The most dangerous step is not taking a step. Status quo behavior is difficult to reverse even if this status quo is painful, chaotic and destructive. Continuing this “normal” is the worst thing a family can do. Sometimes families unconsciously and unintentionally engage in destructive cycles as they interact with the person in their lives struggling with addiction. These cycles may include sincere but failed attempts to produce change in the addict’s life. All of these behaviors are part of the status quo behaviors which keep families stuck in their pain. It is like the addict and his family are trapped in a progressively destructive dance. Intervention changes the dance.
Who should be included in the intervention?
In general anyone who is impacted by the negative behavior of the intervention candidate and has “clout” with this loved one. Often the value of one’s clout with the loved one is underestimated. A formal intervention is designed to increase each team member’s influence. If you are a meaningful part of his life you will likely be a good person to participate in his intervention.
How can we guarantee an intervention will work?
There is no way to guarantee an intervention will work. A positive outcome is more likely when family members are given quality training, make and maintain their commitments regarding the struggling loved one and when they don’t weaken if the process is initially met with rejection.
What if the addict just makes one more desperate promise?
Interventions do not have “making a promise” as their objective. The goal is to invite the loved one to choose help–help that starts immediately. This treatment will be prearranged with the interventionist’s guidance. Failed promises are not helpful. Choosing treatment now is helpful.
How urgent is it to proceed with the intervention?
Specific circumstances dictate the exact urgency of an intervention. The progression of the addictive process and the manifestations of the disease must be evaluated. As with other physical diseases there is seldom any advantage in delaying intervention or treatment. Beginning the healing before the problem deteriorates further is optimal. The interventionist you choose can help you gauge the urgency as scheduling and assessment occur.
Do interventions help families too?
Yes. Just the relief of a loved one choosing treatment helps. This, however, may not be the only benefit for families. As by products, the process provides education and impetus for significant family change. Families who choose to behave differently toward their struggling loved one often find bonding, renewed communication and new ways of relating to each other. The beginning of new and constructive behavior throughout the family system may occur. The focus of the intervention must, however, always be getting someone who doesn’t want help to choose help.
What about aftercare?
When someone leaves treatment the likelihood of the treatment producing long term positive results increases if effective aftercare is in place. Some interventionists are willing to contract for this service.
Is a professionally led intervention worth what it costs in time, energy and money?
With a positive outcome (the addict becomes willing to get help), lives change and years of waste and suffering are avoided. With a less positive outcome (addict refuses to get help) the family has the assurance they have new tools for relating to the addict and each other and they have less regrets. No matter the outcome of an intervention, it is priceless for families to know for certain they have done “all they could” to help their loved one.
What are the most important qualities an interventionist should possess?
Common sense, addiction/family systems knowledge, clarity, experience, tenacity and a “can do” spirit are base line qualities an interventionist should possess. Your ability to connect relationally with him and to trust him are qualities which are also paramount to your process.
Where do you go from here?
To contact Dale click here. You can discuss with him whether an intervention is feasable, whether the timing is right and what he might suggest as a next step.