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intervention FAQs



What is a substance abuse intervention?

An intervention is a gathering of a professional interventionist and concerned family and friends who are committed to helping someone addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Professional addiction intervention is done when an addictive lifestyle is wreaking havoc on the addict’s life and the people around them. Most drug interventions are done because the addict is unwilling to accept that his or her addiction is causing a problem, and they are often refusing to get help.  The intervention process uses peer pressure to encourage an addict to get help. The entire process is about helping the addict understand they have a problem and that they should receive treatment for their addiction. During the intervention, a group of close friends and family gather together with the help and guidance of a certified interventionist.  

Each member of the group outlines how the person’s addiction has harmed them and pleads with the addict to help.  These are letters from the family that make it clear to the addict their addiction has impacted everyone in the room.  A professional interventionist is there to help guide the family through the entire process. Certified interventionists primarily counsel the family and work through the barriers of enabling and co-dependency, while assisting them in organizing the intervention.  Part of this process is setting a bottom line or the consequences if the addict does not agree to get the help they need. For example, the addict may have children, and the spouse is threatening a restraining order if they do not go for treatment. The consequences are meant to help the addict understand the family means business and is taking control of the situation.  

Drug addiction interventions are emotionally charged, and everyone taking part is there to help save the life of the addict.  An intervention is successful when done correctly and the help of a professional interventionist does make it easier to achieve the desired results.  Having a certified interventionist there during the intervention ensures the family is not taken advantage of by the addict through guilt, anger, and other emotions.  When you confront someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you are backing them into a corner. When this happens, they will attempt to say or do anything to avoid getting help.  When the realization of them never using drugs or alcohol again sets in, there is a tremendous amount of fear. The intervention process helps the addict work through this fear, so they understand the importance of getting help and overcoming their addiction for good.

How do you arrange and plan for a drug or alcohol addiction intervention?

Arranging and planning for an addiction intervention starts with contacting a professional interventionist.  Certified intervention groups have the knowledge and expertise to ensure the intervention is done correctly and the addict commits to going to drug rehab.  When you start contacting drug treatment centers, most programs will know of an intervention group they have worked with and can recommend one. Most professional intervention groups are nationwide organizations, which means they travel across the country to perform interventions.  The first time you contact an intervention group, there is a significant amount of time spent on the phone speaking to the family, gathering information, and finding out about the current situation with the addict. Once you engage an intervention group to come and help, they will travel to where you live and start the planning process. 

The first day that is spent with the family is the family education day, where the professional interventionist is essentially acting as a counselor and helping the family work through specific barriers.  The most significant obstacles to a successful intervention are family enabling and co-dependency, which the family interventionist will help educate the family about. Once this is worked out the planning for the intervention takes place.  A certified interventionist will help the family write the letters to the addict, select a location for the intervention, help choose who will be there, and organize the best time to do the intervention. Planning is essential when holding an intervention because you would not want to perform the intervention when the addict is under the influence of drugs and alcohol. 

The next day the intervention takes place, and the professional interventionist would have prepared the family for everything that may happen.  When the addict agrees to go to treatment, the interventionist will escort them to the drug treatment center. This is the best approach because trained intervention specialists will know what to expect during transport to the drug rehab center.  Everything would have been arranged ahead of time, such as the program, payment, transportation, and the bags would have been packed and ready to go. Planning and preparing for an intervention takes effective communication and organizing every detail.  Professional intervention groups are excellent resources to help families make an intervention successful.

What makes an addiction intervention successful?

Several things will help make an intervention successful, and much of the process starts with hiring a professional interventionist.  Certified interventionists help guide families through the entire process. A successful intervention is about advanced planning and preparing the family for everything that may come up during the intervention.  It is crucial never to schedule the intervention for a time that the addict is likely to be high or stressed. There are also situations where the addict may still be working and will have to go to work that day.  People who are abusing drugs or alcohol are often struggling with difficult situations in their lives, which can lead to volatile conditions. Planning is essential and doing the intervention when you know the addict can be there without much distraction or outside worry contributes to its success.  

It is crucial never to shame them in any way. The message the family must project is one of love and support, but setting a line saying they will no longer accept them being addicted to drugs or alcohol.  An intervention is not a place for guilt and making the addict feel guilty, but instead helping them understand how their addiction has been affecting the people who love them. The addict should not come away feeling like a bad shameful person but should see how the actions of their addiction are affecting their life and the lives of the people around them.  The letters you read should be short and to the point, along with much of the communication. When family members begin to ramble on it can become overwhelming.  

The treatment plan and drug rehabilitation program will have already been organized and arranged before the intervention takes place.  It is crucial to ensure that the payment methods for treatment have previously been worked out, and all the transport arrangements have been made.  If the addict refuses to get help, the family must follow through with the consequences. The moment they do not follow through with the consequences, all of the work and planning will have been for nothing.  A professional interventionist helps a family become prepared for this and ensure they stick with the bottom line if the addict refuses to get help. The purpose of the addiction intervention is to show the addict that the family means business and is taking control of the situation.

When is the best time to do an addiction intervention?

Many family members are under the impression that an addict has to hit some sort of rock bottom before they realize they need help.  The reality of this is there is no true rock bottom for addiction; an addict could lose everything in his or her life and still not understand the importance of going to drug rehabilitation.   If someone is struggling with a substance abuse problem and is refusing help, the family should not wait to intervene, because something horrible could happen and an addict will continue to abuse drugs until they have no other option not to.  There is never a wrong time to organize an intervention and contacting a professional interventionist will help a family start this process. It is not always easy for family members to move past the old arguments, disagreements or the misconception that an addict must ask for help.  

Most people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol very rarely ask for help, and will continue to abuse drugs or alcohol until some form of intervention is done.  Early intervention is the best way to help save an addict. There is never a bad time to start organizing an intervention, and a family should reach out to professional intervention groups for help.  Some friends or family who are detached from the addict may want to wait, while others will want to intervene right away. When immediate family members and friends recognize an intervention is necessary, this is often a clear indicator the intervention should be done.  The family should start to put aside the reasons they have to postpone the intervention, and focus on the reasons they believe they should conduct an intervention. There are many compelling reasons why an intervention should happen right away.  

Drug and alcohol addiction gets worse, not better over time, and the addict may try to force periods of sobriety but will start using just as quickly as they decided to try abstinence.  The next time they start using is often worse than the previous time because there are more guilt and shame attached to the relapse. With every passing day, month, and year the problems begin to start to pile up, such as DUI charges, criminal issues, health issues, financial problems, and family concerns.  There is often a point during an addiction where the bottom may be too low, and this can result in death because of overdose or personal injury. Family intervention is almost always needed to help addicts get to the drug treatment they need.

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