When an individual is struggling with the complex, confusing and frustrating problems of drug abuse and addiction, they are also struggling with the extensive damaging effects caused by their drug use. It is not unusual for the individual to recognize, at some point in this process, that drugs are ruining their life and they need help in order to address and resolve their drug problems. However, few individuals are actually ready to admit this to others or reach out for the help they need, and will vehemently deny their drug problems instead. Family members and friends often watch helplessly, wondering what they can do to help their loved one reclaim their life if they can’t even admit that they have a problem. Intervention is the answer.

What Intervention Is

An intervention is a very carefully planned and organized process that seeks to help a drug addict recognize the relationship between their drug use and the problems they are encountering in their life, and then reach out for help they need in order to change their life. Many individuals equate a drug intervention with a confrontational meeting, and while it is true that family members and friends are confronting their loved one about their drug use problems, the intention of the meeting is not to guilt or force the drug addict into rehabilitation treatment, but rather calmly indicate that their drug use is damaging their own and others’ lives and will not be tolerated. It is also meant to prove to the individual that they have the support they will need to successfully pursue and achieve full recovery.

How Intervention Works

Most interventions result in success, which means that the drug addict admits they have a problem and they need help. That said, the best way to ensure a successful intervention is by carefully planning the intervention. Following are some important steps for planning a successful intervention:

  • Learn about drugs. Even if they don’t say it outloud, many family members and friends of drug abusers and addicts often wonder why their loved one won’t just quit their drug use. This is an indication of how little these individuals actually know about drug substances and their effects. Unfortunately, this also explains why they may not be able to convince their loved one to get help – they don’t truly understand what their loved one is going through. By understanding what drug substances are, how they affect the human body, and what one must do in order to recover from them, they can have more compassion for what their loved one is going through and provide the support their loved one needs.
  • Make a plan. The family member or friend who feels an intervention is necessary should consult with other family members and friends about their desire to stage an intervention. It is also very helpful to consult with a professional interventionist or addiction specialist in order to understand how best to stage a successful intervention.
  • Learn about your loved one’s specific drug problems. If your loved one is suffering from a decade-long addiction to opiates, they will need a different sort of support and treatment than if they are suffering from occasional binge drinking.
  • Research rehabilitation treatment options. Recovery is not automatically guaranteed through participation in any rehabilitation treatment program, but comes about quite well when the individual participates in a treatment program that addresses their own specific needs. One of the main concerns an individual may have about stepping onto the path for recovery is that there are not treatment programs that will work to help them. By having this sorted out prior to the intervention, one can provide better support and encouragement during the intervention.
  • Form an intervention team. The intervention team is usually four to six family members and friends who truly care about helping the drug addict put an end to their addiction problems. Almost anyone who knows and cares about the drug addicted individual can be part of the intervention team, with the exception of anyone the drug addict specifically dislikes, anyone who themselves have issues with drug use, who are highly emotional or who may not be able to control what they do or say during the meeting. If there is someone who truly cares about the drug addict but who won’t be able to be a strong member of the intervention team, they can compose a letter to their loved one that can be read at the meeting in their absence.
  • Plan the meeting. This includes deciding who will speak, in what order, and what exactly will be said. Those who address the drug addict during an intervention meeting should give specific examples of the effects their loved one’s drug use has had on their own and others’ lives, and list out the exact consequences that will be enforced should the individual decide to refuse treatment and continue their drug use.
  • Rehearse the meeting. While the meeting is being rehearsed, various members of the intervention team may anticipate the various responses or denials the drug addict will offer up. These can then be addressed and prepared for, ensuring an even more smooth intervention.
  • Select a meeting location and time. The meeting should be held in a location that will feel safe and comfortable to the drug addict, and at a time when it is least likely to be interrupted.
  • Invite the individual to the intervention meeting. A drug addict should never be told that they are going to be walking into an intervention, simply because their own weakness in admitting their drug problems and their need for help can cause them to refuse to show up at a meeting where these exact things will be discussed in detail.
  • Hold the intervention meeting exactly as planned and rehearsed. Once the drug addict realizes they are in the middle of an intervention, they may do everything they can to derail it, or they may simply fall to emotional pieces. No matter what happens, though, it is important that the intervention team sticks to their plan and works through the meeting exactly as rehearsed.
  • Continue supporting the individual. Obviously, the desired outcome of a drug intervention is the individual’s immediate acceptance of help and immediate enrollment in rehabilitation treatment services. However, even when the individual moves forward into rehabilitation treatment it does not mean that their full recovery is automatically guaranteed to them. The process of recovery can be long and hard, and there can be many points along the way where the individual decides they’d be better off returning to drug use. They will need ongoing support and encouragement from others in order to persevere and make it to full recovery.

If Help is Refused

Sometimes even the most carefully planned and well-delivered interventions do not result in immediate success. The drug addict may storm out of the meeting and even drop contact with their family members and friends. If this occurs, it is very important to remain patient and hopeful. In some cases, the individual simply needs time to consider the help that was being offered to them and the consequences of refusing that help. In some cases, the individual is just not ready to admit they have a problem and they need help. However, this does not automatically mean that the intervention was a complete failure. The intervention team laid a strong foundation for the individual’s future recovery – indicating how intolerant they are of further drug use and how supportive they are of the individual’s recovery – and the individual may very well turn around and reach for that help at some future point.

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