A Pathway to Recovery for the Alcoholic or Drug Addict Who is Avoiding Getting Help.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism or substance abuse, you know how difficult life can be. An alcoholic or drug addict can make life feel overwhelming and out of control for everyone around them. Their addiction affects not only the addict or alcoholic, but also their family, friends, and other people who care about them. It can often be hard to know what to do when your loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, and they don’t want to get help.
Interventions for Alcoholics and Drug Addicts Can Help Start the Recovery Process
An alcohol or drug addiction intervention is a structured process where family members, friends, and other concerned individuals (i.e. coworkers, employers, pastors, etc.) confront the alcoholic or addict about the consequences of their addiction and the impact that it has had on their lives. An intervention is a carefully planned process that is designed to break through the denial of the alcoholic or addict and motivate them to accept treatment.
- Provides each person an opportunity to give specific examples of how the addict’s behaviors have affected them.
- Provides each person an opportunity to clearly state why they want their loved one to get help.
- Presents the addict with a prearranged treatment plan that specifies when, where, and how treatment will begin.
- Provides each person an opportunity to outline their actions if their loved one refuses to accept treatment.
The Interventionists at New Dimensions Can Help You Help Your Loved One
If you are reading this article, you have probably been struggling with your loved one’s alcoholism or drug addiction for a long time. You may have thought something like: “I have tried everything, and nothing seems to help” or “If something doesn’t change, I am going to lose my mind.” If so, you are not alone. Living with an alcoholic or addict can feel crazy and can exhaust your emotional and physical health.
Fortunately, there is hope. Drug and alcohol abuse treatment can help your loved one learn the tools they need to overcome their addictions and develop a healthier happier life. With treatment, it is possible to bring sanity back to your life.
When your loved one is reluctant to get treatment and continues to spiral down because of their substance abuse, an intervention can help. It is important to realize that most alcoholics and drug addicts only seek help during times of crisis. When alcoholics or addicts are active in their addiction, they tend to convince themselves and everyone around them that everything is alright and that their substance use is manageable. They often are adamant that they don’t have a problem, it’s you that is the problem. If you would just back off and quit nagging them, they would be okay. Of course, you already know that backing off doesn’t solve the problem, it only gets worse.
An intervention helps create a crisis for the alcoholic and addict because it helps break through their denial. It is during these brief moments when their denial is cracked that they are most likely to accept treatment. An intervention can be a powerful way of getting your loved one to accept the help that they need so that the whole family can begin the healing process that comes with recovery.
How Do You Know If You Need an Intervention?
Ask yourself the following questions about the alcoholic or addict in your life:
- Have they tried to quit on their own, but been unable to?
- Have they lied to you repeatedly about their drug or alcohol usage?
- Have you found evidence of their alcohol or drug usage (i.e. empty liquor bottles) and then have them deny that it was theirs?
- Have you made agreements with them about when, how much, or how often they could use alcohol or drugs only to have them be unable to live up to the agreements?
- Have you argued with them about their alcohol or drug use?
- Do they continue to use substances despite the negative consequences that occur because of their drug or alcohol use?
- Does it feel like they would rather use alcohol or drugs than be with their loved ones?
- Do they exhibit signs of physical dependency?
- Have they ever said, “I know that I’m an alcoholic/addict, but………..”?
- Do you feel ashamed or embarrassed by their behaviors when they are drinking or using drugs?
- Do they spend a lot of time “hung over” or trying to recover from their last episode of alcohol or drug use?
- Do they get angry with you when you talk with them about their drinking or drug use?
- Are you increasingly concerned about the impact their alcohol or drug usage is having on their physical and emotional health?
- Have you ever had to “bail them out” or make excuses for them after an episode of their alcohol or drug use?
- Are you beginning to think about “giving up” on the relationship?
- Do you try to hide how bad things are from your family or friends?
- Are you constantly worried and anxious about their drinking or drug use?
- Are you having to take over more and more of the responsibility over their life or having to “clean up the messes” that they leave behind?
- Are they reluctant to get treatment when it is obvious that they need help?
If you answered yes to 4 or more of the questions above and your loved one is reluctant to accept treatment, then an intervention may be appropriate. To schedule an intervention or to learn more about how interventions, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
What Should I Expect During an Intervention?
Remember that an intervention is a carefully planned process that is intended to confront the alcoholic or addict in a loving way. It isn’t another spontaneous confrontation or explosive argument that often occurs in families dealing with addiction issues. An intervention, instead, emphasizes that you want your loved one to get treatment because you are concerned about them, and you care about their well-being.
An intervention typically has the following stages:
1. Initial Preparation – This is the initial information-gathering stage. During this stage, a family member or friend consults with one of our clinical staff to get information about interventions. Our staff will help them determine if an intervention is appropriate and help them begin to explore treatment options.
2. Identification of Who Will Participate in the Intervention – An intervention can be an emotionally intense experience with the potential for angry reactions from the alcoholic or addict. As a result, it is important to be selective about who participates in the intervention. Ideally, your intervention team should include people whom your loved one likes, respects, depends on, or cares about. You don’t want to include anyone who might sabotage the intervention or who might undermine the intervention process. You also don’t want to include an individual who is unable to manage their own behaviors or reactions.
3. Arranging Treatment Services – Prior to doing an intervention, it is important to identify the specific facility where treatment will occur. Our intervention counselors will help you find a treatment program and help you make arrangements for your loved one to be admitted. It is important to remember, that when intervention occurs, you want your loved one to immediately enter into treatment. The longer they wait after an intervention, the less likely they are to go into treatment.
4. Planning Stage – In order to maximize the chances of success, an intervention needs to be carefully planned. This preparation allows family members and friends to stay focused on helping their loved one get treatment rather than falling into the trap of arguing with the alcoholic or addict. It also helps minimize the opportunities for the alcoholic or addict to manipulate the family into maintaining the status quo. During this stage, with the help of one of our therapists, each member of the intervention team:
- Identifies specific incidents where they were impacted by the alcoholic’s actions.
- Details how the addict’s actions impacted them.
- Identifies what actions they will take if their loved one refuses to get treatment. (It is important to be honest with yourself during this stage. Don’t threaten consequences that you aren’t willing to follow through with. Interventions tend to be more successful if your loved one truly believes that the consequences that they may face are real.)
- Rehearses presenting their message in a caring way.
- Works with other team members to develop a consistent message.
- Practices strategies of how to handle the responses that may come from their loved one during the intervention.
5. Intervention – This is the moment when everyone gathers together with the alcoholic or addict and asks them to get treatment for their addiction. Each intervention team member presents the information that they have rehearsed and expresses their concern for their loved one. The therapist helps guide the intervention process and helps family members and friends effectively respond to the resistance that their loved one is likely to present. Team members also get to clearly present the consequences that will occur if their loved one refuses to get help.
6. Getting Treatment Started – If your loved one agrees to treatment, enter them into treatment immediately. Don’t wait. Remember, the further you get away from the intervention the more likely your loved one is to talk themselves and others around them into not getting help.
7. Debriefing – Interventions are emotional and exhausting. It is important to debrief and have a chance to talk with other members of the intervention team after the intervention is complete. Remember that not all interventions are successful in getting loved ones to accept treatment. As a result, it is important that everyone be prepared to follow through with the consequences that they outlined to the alcoholic or addict.
8. Getting support – Addiction affects the whole family. Getting support for yourself is important whether your loved one enters into treatment or not. Support groups such as Al-Anon or seeking help from a licensed therapist can be invaluable in helping you recover from the pain of living with addiction. Don’t try to do it alone. Effective support can help you manage your own emotions and keep you from slipping back into unhealthy behaviors that often come from living with addiction.
What Happens If the Intervention Doesn’t Work?
Not all interventions result in a loved one agreeing to treatment. Alcoholics and addicts are unpredictable. When an addict or alcoholic is actively using, they often have very distorted thinking even though they look normal on the outside. Underneath the surface, they often feel shame, sadness, and hurt, but they hide it by blaming their problems on those around them. They often become very angry and defensive and lie in order to protect their access to alcohol or drugs. They see alcohol or drugs as the solution, not as the problem. As a result, they become angry at anyone who threatens to take away their means of coping.
An intervention is designed to help break through this distorted thinking and help your loved one see the truth about their addiction. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to accept help even when they are confronted with the truth and they know that there will be consequences for their continued use.
This is one of the reasons it is so important for members of the intervention team to be prepared for the possibility that their loved one may still not be willing to get treatment after the intervention is completed. It is also why it is so important to not make threats of consequences that you are not willing to follow through with. You may actually have to go through with the actions you told them you would take if they don’t get help.
Sometimes alcoholics or addicts further isolate themselves after an intervention or develop additional resentments and grievances. They may feel like everyone is against them and that no one really cares about them. Don’t be fooled by this. It is part of the distorted thinking that goes with addiction.
Alcoholics and addicts tend to be so self-centered when they are using that they become unaware of the impact that their actions have on those around them. It is not unusual for an addict to accuse you of being selfish while they are being completely self-absorbed. It is part of why living with addiction can feel so crazy.
Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease. If left untreated, the disease of addiction is progressive, chronic, and ultimately fatal. Unfortunately, it is one of the few diseases where people actively avoid getting treatment for it. It is the nature of the disease itself that makes your loved one resistant to getting treatment and it is your concern for your loved one that is the motivator to get them into treatment.
It is important to remember that recovery is a process. While some people get sober during their first treatment experience, some people have multiple relapses and multiple treatment episodes before they finally develop lasting sobriety. For some people, it is the repeated exposure to treatment and the accumulation of life consequences that makes them finally willing to accept the help they need to become free from alcohol and drugs.
An intervention helps bring about some of those consequences and can help set the foundation for recovery in the future.
An intervention, regardless of the outcome, also helps bring about change within the family system. While you can’t change what your loved one does, you can change how you respond to them. If you change, it changes others around you.
You don’t have to live a life that revolves around your loved one’s addiction, and you can learn to stop enabling their behaviors. You can also learn how to keep from becoming codependent on your loved one. An intervention, along with support and counseling, can begin the process of bringing sanity back into your life.
Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow What Needs to be Done Today!
Living with an alcoholic or addict is like being on a roller coaster. There are lots of ups and downs and twists and turns. Unfortunately, the longer someone remains in their addiction, the fewer ups there tend to be. The disease of alcoholism is progressive. It gets worse over time, not better. When you live with an alcoholic, it is easy to fall into a pattern of convincing yourself that everything will be okay, followed by periods of crisis where you know that help is needed.
While some people can drink socially or use other substances in moderation without having their usage significantly impact their life, addicts, and alcoholics can’t. It is not a lack of willpower; it is that their brain does not process alcohol or drugs the way that other people do. Once they start drinking or doing drugs, they feel compelled to consume more. They don’t have a natural filter that says, “I’ve had enough.”
Alcoholics and addicts can be persuasive. They are good at convincing people around them that they will manage their drinking or drug use “this time” and that they have things under control. You want to believe them, but if you have been on a roller coaster with them, you know that another crisis is coming. You don’t have to wait until that next crisis to intervene. An intervention can help. To learn more about the process of intervention or to discuss treatment options, contact our substance abuse treatment team at 1-800-685-9796.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.