Tough Love or Professional Intervention? Which Intervention Method Is Better?

professional intervention

Statistics show that 23.5 million Americans have an alcohol and drug abuse problem. If you have a loved one who is currently an abuser this situation is not unique to your family.

It’s hard to see someone you love abusing drugs without doing anything about it. You may have seen television shows where families intervene with a “tough love approach”. You may be thinking about staging such an intervention to force your loved one into therapy.

While this may seem like the solution it is not usually the best way to approach the problem. Here is a look at the “tough love approach vs a professional intervention”, so that you can decide which is best.

1. The Problem with Tough Love

When your loved one is struggling with addiction often family members emotions will run quite high. Even when everybody plans out what they are going to say during an intervention, things can get out of control very quickly and this can be disastrous.

When you are using the tough love approach it often comes off as accusation and judgment to an addict. If an addict feels that their loved ones have turned against them it might spiral them into a deep depression which in extreme cases can lead to suicide or overdose.

What an addict needs and what a professional interventionist provides is a tactful, yet firm approach that is mindful always of the tone of voice used and the emotions conveyed.

An interventionist also acts as a mediator so that things do not spiral out of control emotionally between family members and the addict.

2. Broken Trust

As mentioned before the tough love approach can become too confrontational. When it becomes too confrontational the result can be permanent breakage of bonds with family by an addict.

The fact is that many addicts have usually built a separate family from their “blood” relatives. This family usually consists of other addicts and drug dealers. Once you realize that you are actually competing against them for your loved one’s recovery, you will begin to realize how delicate the situation is.

The drug using and drug dealing family is very accepting of your loved one and will not judge them. A “tough love” approach often comes off as a lack of acceptance which makes the “other family” seem more appealing, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

A professional interventionist knows all of this. They will know what to say and what to do to prevent broken bonds between an addict and their real family.

3. The Important Family Talk Before Intervention

While in the beginning, it may seem more cost effective or easier to go it alone, you can see from the discussion so far that things can get complicated fast.

When you hire a professional interventionist they will usually meet with the family beforehand and strategize how the conversation will go. This is very important.

Often through a pre-interview with the family, an interventionist can objectively choose which family members should be present and are best suited to talk during the intervention. This is why interventions with a professional present often have extremely high success rates.

The bottom line is you cannot afford for an intervention to fail and the tough love approach is almost always guaranteed to be unsuccessful due to its aggressive and confrontational nature.

Final Thoughts on Professional Intervention

When your family first decides to intervene in a loved one’s drug abuse, you might be tempted to “shake some sense into them” with a tough love approach.

However, this rarely works and usually shuts down the abuser and alienates them from the family. It may even become dangerous if the abuser uses mood-altering drugs or has a mental illness.

When you use professional intervention the chances of failure dramatically decrease and the success rate is often in your favor.

If you would like help with an intervention, please contact us.

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