Your loved one has been acting strangely for months. She avoids family gatherings like the plague, she is overly defensive when confronted about her behavior, and family valuables are disappearing left and right.
A few weeks ago you caught her with a stash of drugs in her bedroom. You know that she needs help and you even suggested a drug detox program, but she insisted she was fine and was quitting on her own. “If you would just give me some space I could quit anytime I wanted,” she said.
Not knowing what to do, you backed off and let her figure things out on her own. But her behavior continued to worsen and last week she lost her job. You know it’s time to do something but what do you do? How do you talk to her about her drug use without pushing her further away?
Many family members find themselves in this exact situation and struggle to find a way to motivate their loved one to seek treatment. In instances like these, a planned intervention may be the most effective way to motivate a loved one to enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program and begin their journey to recovery.
About Addiction Interventions
An addiction intervention is a helpful tool for families and friends of an individual who is resistant to seeking addiction treatment. It is a well-planned and organized process where family members and close friends of the addicted individual come together to help encourage that person to agree to enroll in a treatment program, such as drug detox.
During the intervention, each individual describes how the person’s drug abuse has hurt them. Then the loved ones present the addicted individual with a clear treatment plan, which usually requires that the person enroll at a detox center, and clearly define certain boundaries they will draw if the person refuses to seek treatment.1 Examples of boundaries could be:
- Not providing financial support
- Not “rescuing them” from the consequences of their drug use
- Not cleaning up their messes after a drunken episode
- Not giving them rides to meet friends who also use drugs
- Not letting them borrow the car
Many families are unfamiliar with the idea of hosting an intervention and therefore seek intervention assistance from a skilled professional.
Timing an Addiction Intervention
There is no perfect time to hold an intervention but sooner is always better than later. Although you may have heard that it’s best to let a loved one hit “rock bottom” before taking action, the earlier addiction treatment is started, the better chance your loved one has of finding long-term success in recovery.
Qualities of an Effective Intervention
Real-life interventions are very different from the A&E reality TV show “Intervention.” Although every person and situation is unique, most effective interventions possess the following qualities:
- They provide a loving environment. A successful intervention does not leave a family divided or make the addicted person feel hurt, attacked, or condemned. Rather, a successful intervention is conducted with care, love, and concern and encourages the addicted person to enroll in treatment and begin their journey to recovery.
- They are planned. Interventions should always be planned in advance. Spur-of-the-moment interventions are much more likely to spiral out of control and become an overly-emotional argument.
- They are led by an interventionist. Successful interventions are often facilitated by professional interventionists, also referred to as intervention specialists. These professionals are individuals who are highly trained in family systems and successful intervention techniques. An interventionist will be able to help you identify the appropriate individuals who should be involved in the intervention and will also provide support, education, and guidance before, during, and after they facilitate the intervention. An interventionist will also have the knowledge and education to provide recommendations for treatment options that are best suited to your loved one’s needs and circumstances.2
- They provide detailed suggestions for treatment. Since the primary goal of an intervention is to motivate an individual to seek treatment, the loved ones involved should always provide detailed suggestions for a treatment plan.3 In most cases, this should start with a medically assisted drug detox program, which will help the addicted person achieve a stable, sober state and prepare them for entry into a drug and alcohol rehab program.
Many carefully planned interventions are successful. In fact, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, when an intervention is performed under the guidance of a professional interventionist, more than 90 percent of people make a commitment to get help.4
Even when an intervention appears to have failed, many loved ones will come back later, ask for help, and decide to enroll in a drug detox or rehab program as a result of the intervention.
Common Effective Intervention Techniques
There are many different intervention techniques used by professionals, but these are just a few of the most common.
- Johnson Intervention Model – The Johnson Model is what most people think of when they hear the word intervention. It involves calling an addict to a meeting where friends and family members confront him or her about the addiction. Family members also lay out clear consequences that will occur if the addict refuses to enroll in treatment.5
- Family Systemic Model – This intervention technique is less confrontational and more encouraging, which may be beneficial for addicts who are extremely defensive. During the discussion, family members and friends all talk about how everyone plays a role in the addict’s substance abuse and encourages the user to stop abusing drugs and/or alcohol and enroll in a drug detox or rehab program immediately.6
- ARISE Intervention – Unlike many other intervention techniques, with this one, the addict is aware that loved ones are planning an intervention and he or she is invited to attend. The addicted individual is told exactly what he or she can expect at the intervention and that the meeting will provide information about why the loved ones believe seeking treatment is the best option and which treatment options would be best. Even if the addict chooses not to attend, the intervention still takes place under the guidance of a professional interventionist.7
- Motivational Interviewing – This type of intervention includes open-ended questions, reflective listening, affirmations, a summarization, and questions that elicit self-motivational statements. This type of intervention motivates the addict to seek treatment through the use of open-ended conversation and is a less confrontational intervention technique.8
Regardless of the intervention technique you choose to use, it is best to have the help of an experienced and trained intervention specialist. Having the guidance of a professional will increase the likelihood that your loved one will be responsive to the intervention and enroll in a drug detox program to begin treatment.
What to Do When a Loved One Is Not Responsive to an Addiction Intervention
If your loved one still refuses to go to treatment after conducting an intervention, don’t give up on them. Continue to love and care for them, but make sure to follow through on any boundaries you outlined during the intervention.
If you’d like intervention assistance but aren’t sure where to start, Briarwood Detox Center can help. In some instances, members of our staff may get personally involved, but most often, we will refer you to a professional interventionist who can help. If you’re ready to get started, call Briarwood Detox Center today.