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When is it Time for an Intervention?

When someone you care about is struggling with addiction, sometimes gentle support and suggestions are not enough to open their eyes to the effects substance use is having on their lives. Leading someone to the addiction recovery they desperately need sometimes requires a unified approach like an intervention.

While it can be difficult to make the decision to hold an intervention for someone you care about, it is often an effective way to get through to your loved one that their friends and family are urgently concerned about their well-being. It is a bold and brave move that changes lives.

Is this the time to intervene in the downward spiral of addiction or alcoholism? Let’s look deeper into the purpose of an intervention, what warning signs should make you consider holding one, and how to successfully get your loved one to enter an addiction treatment center.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is a meeting of close friends and family and often a professional guide who all gather to communicate clearly with an individual. Typically, the meeting is a surprise to the addicted person. In the discussion, all members of the group explain how the addiction is affecting them and ask the person to seek treatment.

The goals of an intervention include:

  • Helping the person to realize that their alcohol or drug use is a serious threat, not only to themselves but to the people around them.
  • Establishing that the people around the loved one understand that addiction is a chronic disease and a treatable medical condition.
  • Clearly identifying the consequences of not seeking treatment, with each group member stating how their relationship will change if the addicted person does not agree to accept help.
  • Offering the immediate option of going directly to an inpatient treatment facility, supervised medical detox, or intensive outpatient program.

Deciding When It Is Time for an Intervention

Treating addiction is similar to treating other chronic medical conditions. Getting the right help may depend on recognizing these warning signs of addiction in ourselves and others:

  • Changes in behavior patterns: When your friend or family member starts acting oddly, going out at strange times of day or with mysterious destinations.
  • Increased tolerance levels: When the individual seems to be drinking more than before, refilling prescriptions more often, or using greater amounts of a substance to achieve the same effect.
  • Signs of mental confusion: Seeming “foggy,” frequently forgetting things, being distracted, failing to respond, or asking people to repeat themselves.
  • Declining self-care: You might observe that your friend or family member stops paying attention to what they wear or how they look, they might miss doctor appointments, they might not change their clothes or brush their hair, or they might drastically change styles to a rougher look.
  • An emotional hair-trigger: Your loved one may react with sudden anger, defensiveness, tears, or withdrawal when asked about substance use, where they are going, or what they are doing.
  • Sudden financial problems: People who have been self-sufficient before and suddenly are looking to sell their possessions for cash, borrow money for vague purposes, or drastically reduce their lifestyle for no reason may be hiding substance use.
  • Being hospitalized for an overdose or drug-related health issue: If your loved one has a medical crisis caused by drugs or alcohol and doesn’t choose treatment for themselves.
  • Legal issues: Sometimes an arrest brings to light that your loved one was in possession of illegal drugs or had harmed someone else while under the influence, and an intervention may be needed to convince them to choose treatment to avoid more legal consequences, including jail time.

Is It Too Soon for an Intervention?

devastated young man holding his head and friends supporting him

If an addiction is present, it is never too soon to encourage your loved one to enter treatment. Addiction treatment centers can help you make your decision to intervene, with specialists available in online chat to talk through your concerns. Waiting until someone hits “rock bottom” only leaves them farther to go when treating their addiction.

Of course, you cannot control whether your loved one responds by going to treatment. Addiction recovery is a personal journey that is unique to the individual. However, the combination of a clear outline of the consequences of their continued substance use with seeing that the intervention group follows through on their commitment to stop enabling the addiction will often bring the addicted person to a place where they can seek and accept help.

However, you won’t be able to hold an intervention until a few conditions are met:

  • Family and friends must be available to gather together for a planning session and the intervention.
  • The therapist, counselor, interventionist, or mentor who will guide the session must be scheduled.
  • A spot must have been booked with an inpatient facility or outpatient program, to allow the loved one to go directly into treatment.
  • The addicted person needs to be available and as sober as possible.

What Strategies Make an Intervention Successful?

An intervention does make it more likely that your loved one will enter treatment.1 Although these meetings may be emotionally charged, they are an effective way to help someone who is struggling with addiction. Some strategies that improve the effectiveness of an intervention include:

  • Being prepared to follow through with the meeting despite possible anger and resistance as your loved one’s first response to the conversation.
  • Engaging a professional to help with planning the meeting itself and to defuse tensions, mediate, and encourage healthy discussion rather than blaming.
  • Avoiding shame and guilt as part of the intervention. The focus should be on how the disease of addiction is harming the people the addicted person cares about.
  • Being specific about the effects the addiction is having on you as a loved one while keeping your statement short and to the point. Plan or write down what you intend to say.
  • Offer the same specific treatment plan as the other members, making clear that a recovery program is lined up and waiting, and how it will be paid for with insurance or family support.
  • Have a bag packed and a group member ready to drive the loved one to treatment directly from the meeting.
  • Make clear that, if the first treatment program is not a good fit or does not succeed, you will continue to support their need for treatment but will not continue to support their addiction.
  • If necessary, be ready to follow through on the commitments you are making to withdraw support of their addictive behavior if they refuse to enter treatment.

Having the Right Resources Available for Your Intervention

Happy family of three talking with psychologist

You shouldn’t feel alone as you prepare to plan an intervention for your friend or family member. Our drug and alcohol rehab in Delray Beach have experts standing by to talk to you about the process and help you secure the right type of addiction recovery program for your loved one.

At RECO Intensive in Delray Beach Florida, we offer a broad range of addiction treatment options that are integrated, evidence-based, and individualized for our clients. With an intervention program, partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and available sober living housing through RECO Intensive, no matter your loved one’s starting point, we have the caring staff and resources to empower their recovery.

Treating addiction is a compassionate mission that may start with your determination not to lose your loved one to drug addiction or alcoholism. Contact us today to discuss more strategies and to schedule the right program as part of your successful intervention. Bringing your concern together with our experience will empower this life-changing decision to be the force for change in your loved one’s life.

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