Do Drug and Alcohol Interventions Work

Do Drug and Alcohol Interventions Work? (The Answer: Yes!)

Do interventions work? In short, yes but it will require the willingness necessary from your addicted friend or loved one.

In the paragraphs that follow, you’ll find a guide to helping the person you care about to get back on track and beat their crippling addiction. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not up to you rather they decide to give up their addiction.

Remember that recovery from addiction has everything to do with their own willingness to acknowledge the problem and seek help. While loved ones and friends of alcoholics have often spent years trying to convince the addict to seek help, the addict’s will is not something that anyone outside can control.

Read on to learn more about addiction and the options available.

What You Need to Do

Show empathy. Living or working with an addicted person can cause much unnecessary resentment, but it’s important that you hold your fire for the time being. Showing empathy, love, and concern in a nonjudgmental way is important when conducting an intervention.

In short, this isn’t the time to express anger or your own grievances. This can make it difficult for the addict to practice the vulnerability and acknowledgment required to make a change in course.

If your loved one feels that it is too late to repair the damage they’ve caused, they can be likely to turn back to the self-soothing substances or actions that they’ve long used as a coping mechanism.

Different Intervention Types

Sometimes interventions aren’t a choice. Forcible interventions may be conducted if the addict runs into the legal troubles that are so closely linked to addiction. This may be a court-ordered or state-mandated treatment program and while this level of intervention can be successful, it’s not a preferred choice.

Conducting an intervention with the help of trained interventionist is an example of one of the more preferred voluntary methods. This involves soliciting the help of someone who is experienced in getting your friend or partner to commit to a treatment program.

While these professionals can’t guarantee how your friend or partner will respond to the recovery process, they can be very helpful in ensuring that the addict takes the first steps necessary toward recovery.

If you don’t have the means to bring a professional interventionist in, ask for the help of other concerned parties. If you’re already attending Al-anon, group members can also be an excellent sounding board for advice, experience, and support as you take this next step.

If you aren’t already attending an Al-Anon group, be sure to check out the section entitled “There’s a Meeting for You Too” in this article.

Do the Homework for Them

Offering your addicted friend or loved one an array of options can be helpful. Asking someone to change everything can be overwhelming, so offering information on first steps can help direct them towards meaningful change.

This means giving your loved on a few options that may work for them, such as information on rehabs or a list of local AA, NA, or SLAA meetings. Do the initial legwork of making their next step clear.

Making your expectations clear can help ensure that the addict knows what you’re expecting from him. Vague expectations about behavioral improvement can lead to half-measures that end in defeat. An addict will almost always look for ‘an easier, softer way’ that doesn’t include giving up his/her addiction entirely.

While clarity is necessary, don’t make the addict feel like treatment is a punishment for bad behavior. You need to ensure that your intervention leads them toward recovery and not just further away from their support system.

Listen, be empathetic, offer support, and stand strong in your expectations. There are many books available that can help you learn more about addiction, how it functions, and how you can best offer help.

Helpful literature is also available for free online and can help you prepare for the days and weeks ahead.

Know What They’re Going to Say (Before They Say It)

One of the most common rebuttals heard from addicts is “I can’t afford to take 30 days off to go to rehab”. In reality, however, it’s likely that the addict you care about has been functioning at a fraction of their potential for years or even decades.

It’s because of this that rehab should be viewed as a momentary albeit necessary hiccup that will likely lead to a much more productive and full life. Addicts often spend the majority of their day thinking about their addiction, planning their next chance to use or cleaning up the wreckage caused by their most recent episode.

When viewed through this lens, 30 days isn’t much of a trade-off. The tools they’ll gain while in treatment will help them re-engage with their addiction-free life and stop squandering their days in search of their next high.

If you’re an employer, this can mean telling your addicted employee that time off won’t be an issue and making them aware of just how much their health coverage can pay for.

If the addict you care about is your spouse, this can mean detailing a plan of attack that you can work on together. Talk about household financial responsibilities and how they can best be managed.

There’s always a way if your partner has the willingness to give a new way of life a try. Ensure that your partner doesn’t feel too guilty to go and show him or her just how manageable the process can be.

When Rehab Isn’t an Option

When rehab isn’t an option, there are still ways that your friend or loved one can get clean. While there are separate considerations that may need to be made depending on the addiction, free services are available for nearly every addiction.

In some cases, your friend or partner may need a medically supervised detox. Depending on the level of physical dependence they’ve formed, hospitalization may be unavoidable.

These free services have some of the highest success rates in addiction treatment and are virtually everywhere. Addiction is incredibly common and affects people of all backgrounds and financial situations.

Because of this, addiction meetings are free and are often comprised of a diverse mix of people. Meetings welcome wealthy business owners and celebrities with the same level of compassion and respect that they give those who are struggling with the financial implications of severe drug abuse.

A quick web search (‘your hometown’+’alchoholics anonymous’) can provide you with a meeting finder. This printable list will detail meetings currently being held in your area.

Meetings are free, however, at the conclusion of the meeting, a basket is typically passed for donations. The typical donation is around a dollar and goes to pay for group expenses. This typically includes room rentals and providing literature to those who can’t afford to purchase ‘The Big Book’.

‘The Big Book’ and the ’12 and 12′ are the two quintessential pieces of the literature suggested for AA members. NA, on the other hand, uses it’s own blue book, as well as a Step Work guide and a book entitled ‘It Works: How and Why”. If the group lacks the funds to pay for literature for a new member, other members are likely to let the addict borrow the literature needed.

Groups are self-supporting, however, donations are never mandatory. Meetings occur everywhere (Hint: Even if you’re on a cruise ship, there’s a good chance that there may be a meeting onboard, check the events and activities section) and show the addict just how common their own experience is.

Through groups, addicts can meet people with similar stories who have turned their lives around and get the hope they need to get and stay sober.

Look for the Similarities (Not the Differences)

While Alcoholics Anonymous is the most common 12 step meeting, dependence on alcohol isn’t the only substance it can help your loved one recover from. Groups focused on an addiction to narcotics (NA) or sexual addiction (SLAA) are common, but may not occur as frequently in your area.

The basis of all of these groups is the 12 step program developed by Bill W. for Alcoholics Anonymous because of the similarities faced by all addicts. These similarities include loss of control, damage caused to relationships, and the ensuing wreckage caused.

If an NA, CA, or SLAA meeting isn’t regularly available in your area, you can encourage your partner to attend AA to seek help for their addiction of choice. This is unlikely to reduce their chances of recovery because of the commonality of experience in addicts.

Hint: Most ‘traditional’ alcoholics have used drugs or created a sexual wreckage of their own before entering recovery.

There’s a Meeting for You Too

If someone you love is an addict, there’s a meeting for you too. Al-Anon meetings are an important component of recovery.

Al-Anon meetings help to give the friends and family member of alcoholics the tools they need to support their loved ones and themselves. Dealing with the pain caused by an addicted loved one isn’t easy.

Al-Anon groups are easy to find, free, and can provide members with the group support and fellowship necessary for friends and family members of alcoholics, regardless of rather or not the loved one is currently in recovery.

Young people who have been affected by the actions (or inactions) of an addicted family member can also attend meetings. Alateen groups are often suggested as a tool to help young people deal with the memories, feelings, and responsibility that often plague younger family members.

If the person you’re hoping to reach isn’t responsive to your requests, it’s important to know that it’s not your fault. An addict won’t get clean until it’s a choice he makes for himself. Interventions can help to show an addict just how much is at stake, but the choice is out of your hands.

Having a network of new friends who know exactly what you’re going through can help you create the necessary boundaries you’ll need if the addict you love isn’t ready yet.

Still unsure? Try a virtual meeting and see for yourself. Keep an open mind and look for the similarities you share with the regular members.

Do Interventions Work? More Answers

If you’re reading this article and wondering ‘Do Interventions Work?’ chances are that the person you care about has an issue with addiction. If you’re still unsure that what your friend or loved one is experiencing is ‘addiction’, take the Al-Anon quiz for yourself and see if you could benefit from joining their ranks.

Millions of people have been negatively affected by addiction and it’s important to know that there are resources available to you. You aren’t alone.

Isolating or continuing to hide the wreckage caused by the addict in your life deprives you of the life and happiness you deserve.  It’s no secret that isolating can make friends and family members feel alone in the world.

Fortunately, you’re part of a strong bunch. Exercise your own bravery by attending an Al-Anon meeting and share your experience with someone who needs it.

Without the willingness to expose your own truth to individuals who find themselves in similar situations, your own recovery can’t begin. This of this as a show of solidarity with your addicted friend or partner, who will need to do it same.

For more information on how you can help the addict that you love and begin to repair the damage that’s been caused, call the professionals at Addiction Treatment Services. We’re here to help.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.