Addiction affects entire families, and a loved one struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can create a tense, difficult, and fragile home atmosphere. While families can make their best efforts to support a loved one battling addiction, some situations demand a more direct approach to truly help the one with a substance use disorder (SUD) realize how addiction affects both them and their loved ones.
Interventions are a powerful but risky approach to making this message clear. They can be the catalyst for the necessary change and perspective needed to take the first step toward sobriety and knowing when to host an intervention is crucial for getting the most benefit from them while mitigating the risks involved.
The Risks of Intervention
Interventions are drastic, sometimes last-ditch attempts to get through to a family member or loved one about their use of addictive substances. While the intention behind interventions is birthed of genuine care, they do carry several inherent risks. Before holding an intervention, it is important to mitigate as many of these risks as possible.
First, interventions can be intense. The atmosphere can be wrought with fragility and high emotions, and it is common for family members to bring their own overwhelming feelings to the situation. Anxiety, anger, sadness, fear, and a plethora of other uncomfortable and vulnerable feelings will emanate from each person, often creating a tense, strained environment for honest conversation.
Preparing oneself for an intervention means being ready to control these emotions and keep communication calm without diving into emotion-fueled actions that may compromise the effectiveness of the intervention.
Interventions will also inherently put those struggling with addiction into an immediately defensive position. It is common for someone with an addiction to lie or attempt to retreat from the situation. Providing space for the person the intervention is for to speak their minds is paramount, as interventions are meant to open a necessary dialogue and have them make a choice for their betterment, not to interrogate, shame, or coerce.
Situating oneself as a support rather than a hurdle is a tricky but important balance to maintain.
Knowing When It Is Time For An Intervention
Addiction affects each individual differently, and each family may have a different point where intervention becomes a consideration. However, there are signs that an intervention may be necessary.
Increased High-Risk Behavior
The use of addictive substances is dangerous to both one’s body and mind. However, those facing addiction can be just as dangerous to themselves as they are to others, and an increase in high-risk behaviors is cause for concern. Drinking and driving, sharing needles, or any other actions or behaviors that don’t consider the physical safety of themselves or others indicate that actions should be taken for their safety.
Refusal of Other Treatments
Those dealing with a SUD may be resistant to getting help. Some may truly not recognize how much they are using addictive substances, while others may be unwilling to confront the depth of the consequences. In any case, this may cause them to refuse any kind of treatment or be unwilling to recognize the need for such treatment. This is a sign that intervention may be necessary.
Noticing an Emotional Change
Addiction drastically affects one’s mind and can cause an individual to experience intense emotions that are difficult to control. Pervasive anxiety giving way to paranoia, angry outbursts that lead to violence, intense depression, and other sudden emotional changes can all be dangerous and difficult to navigate. Hosting an intervention to address a loved one’s use before these symptoms continue to complicate their daily life and safety may be necessary.
Use Becomes the Priority
Addiction is a disease that continues to develop until addressed. Those with addiction may feel compelled to make more and more sacrifices to engage with addictive substances. As one’s use overshadows other responsibilities, compromises one’s finances, or even causes an individual to begin prioritizing their use over familial or work obligations, change must be made, and intervention should be considered to directly address the extent of the situation.
Taking Care of Yourself
Since addiction is challenging and demanding, loved ones often feel the fatigue of coping with the disease just as much as those directly impacted by it. Family and other support systems aren’t professionals, and intervention can nudge the one struggling toward a drug rehab or addiction center to address the situation. Reaching out to professionals is a necessary step to engaging in the most effective recovery possible.
Getting professional help for intervention is also crucial. Due to their highly emotional and confrontational nature, there are many difficulties when hosting an intervention. The use of a professional to moderate the conversation and emotions and keep conversations fair and on track is helpful while navigating such an intense and vulnerable time.
Hosting an intervention is a big decision, but it may be necessary to best help those struggling take their first step toward understanding and tackling addiction.
Interventions are a serious choice, but they may be a necessary prologue to an effective recovery program. Effective recovery always starts with drug detox. Allowing harmful addictive substances to leave the body in a medically-supervised setting is the most effective – and safest – way to start recovery.
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