If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, it is natural to want to help them to get the assistance they need to recover. You may be concerned about the addiction’s impact on work, on one’s personal life or its effect on the health of kids or other family members.
Sometimes, convincing someone to acknowledge the addiction and the need for treatment is relatively easy because he/she has already come to this realization on his/her own. In other cases, however, the individual may be in denial about the problem, conjuring up myriad reasons other than the addiction for poor school or work performance and/or strained interpersonal relationships.
When this is the case, one of the most powerful ways you can assist your loved one is by holding a professionally facilitated intervention.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is a planned gathering of the addict and those who love him/her. All participants explain how the addict’s behavior has impacted them and the likely consequences if the addiction is not addressed. With everyone’s input, the interventionist creates and presents a customized plan for treatment that will hopefully be acceptable to all parties.
If you are considering an intervention for a loved one, you should consult a mental health professional specifically trained in this technique such as a psychologist or certified substance abuse counselor. If you are in or close to New York City, you can reach out to Dr. Seitz who will gladly make an appropriate recommendation.
How Does an Intervention Work?
An intervention begins with a plan. You may want to designate one person as the main point of contact for organizing the intervention, in charge of carefully choosing all participants. All should be respected by the addict and capable of remaining calm while discussing the impact of their loved one’s addiction. Emotion is fine, of course, but it should not devolve into anger or name-calling.
During the intervention, each participant explains the personal impact of the loved one’s addiction. This can include specific incidents along with how the incident made the loved one feel. Stay focused on facts and how the event impacted you. With input from the interventionist, each participant will decide upon the consequences should their loved one not seek treatment. Although this may seem harsh, your loved one needs to be aware of the repercussions of his/her addiction and how it is impacting the people he/she loves.
With the help of the interventionist you will create a plan for the addict to access treatment. Entering an inpatient program is one option, but that suggestion may seem overwhelming to your loved one. Another option is to perform an at-home medication assisted detoxification, as Dr. Seitz of HomeDetoxNY does in the New York City area. Following detoxification, there are many options for outpatient treatment to help the your loved one maintain sobriety without disrupting his/her life and routine.
Making an Intervention Successful
You must be well-prepared to host a successful intervention. You may want to have a “dress rehearsal” without the addict present where you create a seating chart and plan the speaking order and topics to be discussed.
Take some time to consider possible the objections from your loved one. If an inpatient rehab would be too disruptive, for example, present a plan for an at-home detox followed by outpatient treatment. Be prepared to address objections calmly and without anger.
All of those involved in the intervention should be on the same page and each participant comfortable with the proposed plan. Veering wildly could derail your efforts. You do not want the intervention to devolve into argument or name-calling.
You should be prepared to ask your loved one for an immediate decision to begin treatment. Even taking a small step, such as starting an at-home detox or consulting an Addiction Medicine physician can break through the doors of denial and be an excellent place to start
As you encourage your loved one to start treatment, a good first step is to consult with an experienced Board Certified Addictions Specialist such as Dr. Seitz. During such a consultation your loved one can talk with the doctor about the specifics of the addiction, as well as concurrent medical or psychiatric problems that may impact treatment. The goal here is for the doctor and patient to devise and implement a specific addiction treatment plan that meets the needs of both patient and family.
The first step in recovery is detoxification. This is the process of ridding the body of drugs and alcohol. Although dangerous to undergo without medical supervision (due to the likely emergence of potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms), detox under the direct care of an experienced Board Certified Addictions Specialist is relatively safe and comfortable. Following detox, your loved one will be on the path to recovery and can be referred to an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program, or for individual counseling, as appropriate.