When you suspect that a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can be hard to know when it’s time to step in. Many families that feel the need for an intervention have tried other, less direct methods of offering the person help, including talking about addiction, asking them if they need assistance, and letting them know how their drug and alcohol use is negatively affecting the family.
Signs that an intervention may be the best next step for your family include:
The person suffering from substance use disorder is refusing to admit that they have a problem. Denial is one of the hallmarks of deep-rooted addiction. While some people who are living with addiction can readily admit that they’re dependent on a substance, many keep the mentality that they can quit at any time. This can stop your loved one from getting the treatment they need.
You’re concerned for the safety of your loved one. Drug and/or alcohol addiction can lead to risky behaviors. If your loved one is living on the streets, participating in illegal activities to get money for drugs or alcohol, sharing needles, or simply walking around in an altered state of mind, you’re right to be concerned for their well-being.
You’ve caught your loved one in lies that have negatively affected both you and others. When drug and alcohol addiction takes over a person’s brain, it’s difficult — and sometimes impossible — for them to think clearly. This can result in countless lies to get money or other support that allow them to continue using. It’s important to remember that a person who is suffering from addiction is living with a mental disorder that can make them do and say things wildly out of character. While lies and deceit can be devastating to you and your family, they do not mean that your loved one no longer cares for you, or that they’re beyond hope.
The emotional, financial, and/or physical health of you and/or your family are beginning to suffer. Loving someone who has an addiction is difficult and can take a toll on all aspects of your health. If you’re starting to feel like you simply can’t continue to live with the responsibility of your loved one’s well-being, it’s time to work with a professional to set up an intervention.
Many interventions result in the person suffering from addiction agreeing to go to treatment. There are many factors that can influence whether your intervention is a success.
Some people who are living with addiction do not agree to go to treatment at the time of the intervention. While this isn’t the desired outcome, it doesn’t mean that the intervention was a failure. If the person living with addiction begins to think about the effect their disease has on their family and starts to consider treatment, the intervention had a positive effect.
To increase the chances that your intervention is successful, it’s important that you work with a professional. Other factors that contribute to a successful intervention can include:
Plan the intervention ahead of time. When you’ve dealt with a loved one’s addiction for years, it’s normal to have moments when you feel fed up. While it can be tempting, this is not the best time to stage an intervention. A successful intervention takes planning and is not the result of a moment of frustration that leads to an ultimatum.
Do your research and understand what your loved one is facing. Learning more about substance use disorder and why it can feel impossible to simply stop using is key to a successful intervention. The more you understand your loved one’s addiction, the more you’ll be able to create a successful intervention.
Communicate with other family members before the intervention. Decide who should be on the intervention team. Choose people close to the person who is struggling with addiction. Do not include people who are struggling with their own addiction to be a part of the intervention team.
Ask for a decision during the intervention. Many people who are living with addiction try to buy themselves time by asking for a few days to think about whether they’d like to attend treatment. Their reasons for delaying treatment may sound valid (needing to check in with their employer, or needing to find childcare, for instance). Planning the intervention ahead of time can make these questions a non-issue.