An addiction of any kind is extremely destructive. Failing health, divorce, loss of jobs, arrests, family tension, dropping out of school and ultimately death are just some of the results of addiction. These consequences apply when dealing with any addiction; substance abuse, alcoholism, gambling, sex addiction are the most common that require some form of intervention.
Watching a loved one battle the consequences of addiction is difficult and often these consequences affect the family and loved ones of the addict. The nature of addiction means that the addict very often is unaware or unable to see the real cost of the addiction, they rely on denial mechanisms to block out these horrible truths. If they are aware that the addiction is causing unmanageability in their lives they are unwilling to seek professional help and believe they can manage on their own.
An intervention is a deliberate process orchestrated by family and loved ones to get the addict to see their truth and hopefully seek professional help. It is used to motivate change and is usually a last ditch effort to facilitate the process. In most cases an addict seeks out help as a result of mounting consequences and unmanageability. The intervention process raises this “rock bottom” in the hope that the individual in question seeks out help sooner rather than later.
An intervention is when family and friends, with the help of a trained professional, confront the addict with facts and experiences of the addicts behaviour and the effect it has had on them and what action the addict needs to take next (Bottom Lines) also what the consequences will be if the addict does not follow through with the professional help provided (consequences). The process is planned and structured; the addict is usually unaware of what they are walking into.
There is no clear data on the success rates of interventions, as the outcomes are always different. An addict must be willing to want the help, and must have the right motivation to enter life in recovery. The danger is that this process could drive the individual further away – they may feel bullied or unwanted.
It is important to consult a professional when planning an intervention, this could be a doctor, addictions counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. The intervention process is an emotionally charged event and proper guidance and planning is needed for the desired outcomes.
- Have a plan; consult with a professional and relevant family and friends. Have treatment options ready
- Collect information; between the parties involved, collect information regarding the addict – the behaviour, experiences and consequences resulting from the addiction
- Decide on who will be apart of the intervention, family, friends, trained professional
- Decide on specific consequences if the addict does not follow through and accept the help. Each of the members of the intervention “team” must decide on what they will do if the addict does not go into treatment – move out, allowance cut off, divorce etc.
- Make sure you know what you need to say – a good suggestion is to have letters prepared
- Get the addict to the intervention site, it is best that they do not know what is about to happen. Present the letters to the addict. The members of the intervention team take turns presenting their experiences; what changes they need to see and what consequences there will be if the addict does not agree to go into treatment. Do not make any threats if you are not willing to follow through with them
- Outcome achieved, addict agrees to go to treatment and is taken directly to the facility.
Not all interventions are successful, often the addict will not accept the help and the situation can get heated. It is important that the members of the intervention team stand firm on the consequences to follow when the addict refuses the help. Be prepared for this. It is an emotional process, hold firm on bottom lines. Family and friends must able to remove themselves from the destructive situation and choose to no longer support the addicts behaviour.
A successful Intervention is well planned and structured. Consultation with a professional interventionist is always the best option. The process can be daunting, emotional, draining and sometimes scary – but it could be the push the addict needs to get help.
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