An intervention is any process by which one individual or group of individuals intervenes in the progress of a given situation. An intervention can occur in a doctor’s office, for instance, when a doctor observes drug-seeking behavior and can make recommendations to their patient. Other types of interventions include school drug prevention programs designed to intercede in the normal progression of things like peer pressure or family history of abuse. Perhaps the most popular form of intervention at the current time is the family intervention where a group of family members or friends of someone who is struggling with addiction confronts the individual to encourage them to get the help they need. Planning an effective intervention may not be as easy as it sounds. During the intervention, the confronted individual may become resistant, angry, and might even try to leave the location where the intervention is taking place. In order to plan the most successful intervention possible, you may want to consider hiring a professional who is experienced in the planning and execution of drug abuse interventions.
What Are the Steps to Planning an Intervention?
The first most important step to planning an intervention might be determining whether or not your loved one is suffering from addiction or drug abuse issues. There are several indicators established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that may indicate if you or someone you love has a problem with drugs or alcohol. This manual is used by professionals in the psychological field to ensure consistency in the diagnosis of mental illnesses and other conditions.
The criteria for drug abuse and addiction are as follows:
- An individual who is unable or unwilling to meet their obligations at home or work or school because of recurrent drug use may suffer from the condition of drug abuse.
- An individual who continually places themselves in danger, such as by driving a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may suffer from the condition of drug abuse.
- An individual who is repeatedly challenged by law enforcement due to behaviors associated with drug use may suffer from the condition of drug abuse.
- An individual who uses drugs despite constant social or family fighting about the issue may suffer from the condition of drug abuse.
- When an individual develops a tolerance, the need to use more of the same drugs to achieve the effects they are looking for, or suffers from withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to use their drugs of choice, they may suffer from the condition of substance dependence (also known as addiction).
- If an individual has no control over the amount of drugs they consume or for how long they expose themselves to drugs in a single event, they may suffer from addiction.
- When an individual continues to abuse drugs even though they know the drugs are hurting them physically or emotionally, they may simply be unable to stop using without help.
If someone you love has exhibited the types of behaviors described here, you may want to consider speaking with a professional intervention specialist to determine your best course of action. You can also discuss the matter with your primary care physician. Once you’ve established that an addiction or drug abuse situation is likely, your next step is to select your intervention team. The intervention team should consist of people who have influence over or a great love and affection for the individual suffering from addiction. Perhaps a favorite teacher, employer or family friend might be involved. Members of the clergy, if the individual is or has been a member of a local church, might also be a member of this team. It is important to limit the participants in the intervention team to people the individual respects and admires. Family members are often members of the intervention team, and it is important to remember what constitutes family for many people. In a study conducted to show the effects of family therapy, the researchers established that there are several types the families.
The definition of a family for purposes of an intervention might include:
- Extended family members, including grandparents or grandchildren as well as aunts, uncles and siblings
- Heterosexual couples and their children
- Single parents and their children
- Gay or lesbian couples living either alone or with their children
- Godparents and other individuals who share no genetic link with the individual suffering from addiction
Once you’ve selected your intervention team, the benefits of a professional intervention specialist can be of great help. Addiction is a complex illness. It is very difficult to understand if one has not experienced it. A professional interventionist or family mediator can take some time to educate everyone involved about what addiction is, how it develops, and how it is treated effectively. When all the members have a basic understanding of the disease they are about to fight, they can be can begin writing their intervention letters to their loved one. Many times during an intervention, emotions run high. It is easy to become distracted, angry or frustrated with the individual who may make significant excuses for their behavior, continually deny that they have any issues, or – depending on the types of drugs being abused – become violent. It is for this reason that writing down thoughts can be of great help. While members of the intervention team may want to rehearse what they will say on the day of the intervention, it is important to have a letter right in front of them so they can read it word for word to their loved one. This letter may go through several drafts before the actual event, and that is to be expected. It is often difficult to find exactly what one wants to say and the appropriate manner in which to say it.
Do I Have to Ambush My Loved One?
Oftentimes in the media, an intervention is depicted as a surprise event, where family members ambush a member of their family who is abusing drugs. Depending on the individual, this may or may not be necessary. If you have a family member or loved one who has expressed a desire to break free of their drug addiction that they have not followed through, you may schedule a time for a simple family meeting. Under these circumstances, a professional interventionist and family mediator may help keep everyone calm and on track for the purpose at hand. According to the Center for Conflict Resolution at Brigham Young University, mediation is defined as a process wherein a neutral party (the mediator) assists people who cannot agree. This may be because of a divorce, disagreements about how to raise children, or to keep the conversation and dialogue civil when confronting someone about their drug abuse issues. Drug abuse is a sensitive topic for anyone, and the individual who is suffering from addiction may be defensive and angry even when they’ve agreed to engage in mediation. Drug addiction is a brain disease that changes how people behave, therefore having another individual who understands the issues without being directly affected by them can have often help keep the peace.
Getting Help for Your Family Member or Loved One
Regardless of whether you choose a surprise intervention or a scheduled mediation, finding out how to help your loved one recover from drug abuse or drug addiction can ultimately make the difference between life and death. We understand that this can be a scary proposition and you may feel as though you don’t know where to turn. Our staff of trained and compassionate professionals is here to help you find your way. Please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as you are ready.