Most people with substance abuse problems feel very isolated. The negative connotations associated with addiction can make these individuals feel too ashamed or too embarrassed to seek help. Thankfully, advances in medical research and substance abuse treatment have improved our understanding of addiction, and we modern treatments are evolving to reflect this expanded knowledge.
The Value of Interventions
An intervention is a gathering of people close to an individual with a substance abuse problem. The people staging the intervention are typically friends, family and coworkers, often with the support of a professional interventionist. The intervention is an opportunity for these people to let their struggling loved one know how the substance abuse has impacted their lives. This isn’t meant to be a guilt-trip: it’s an opportunity to show the individual how much he or she matters to everyone else, and how much they want the individual to succeed in sobriety.
Common Difficulties in Interventions
Many people struggling with addiction instinctively rationalize their situations as a defense mechanism. Confronting the reality of the situation is too difficult, so they make any excuse to justify continuing the addictive behaviors. Admitting the existence of a problem is the first step in overcoming it, and an intervention can be the tipping point for helping a struggling individual acknowledge their need for treatment.
While friends and family play pivotal roles in the intervention process, they can also hinder it in several ways. It’s vital for the people staging the intervention to do so without harsh judgment and while keeping emotions in check. Some family members and friends also may be enabling the addicted person’s behaviors in several ways. It’s vital for people close to individuals struggling with addiction to know the difference between enabling behaviors and real support.
What Is Enabling?
Enabling describes any behavior that keeps a person with a substance abuse problem entrenched in their addictive patterns. Many people with addictions will manipulate loved ones in various ways, such as threatening to take their own lives or disappear forever if the other person refuses to help them maintain the addictions. This can be terrifying for family members, and they will often rationalize enabling their loved ones’ addictions by telling themselves it’s better than the alternative. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. The longer a substance abuse problem continues, the greater the chances of reaching a tragic conclusion, including the person’s death in some cases.
Keeping Emotions in Check
The people gathered for an intervention may feel various intense emotions, ranging from anger and fear to guilt and shame. Some family members may blame themselves for the addicted individual’s situation, or may not fully recognize the severity of the issue. Interventions must be honest and open for them to have the desired effect: encouraging the addicted person to enter rehab and overcome substance abuse. Unfortunately, high-running emotions can drive addicted individuals farther away, and well-meaning friends and family may unintentionally do more harm than good.
Professional Assistance Is Available
The risk of family baggage and heated emotions derailing an intervention underscores the need for professional support. Professional interventionists specialize in providing the expertise and guidance that families need to host successful, constructive interventions. A professional interventionist who takes a family-first approach will recognize the important role that loved ones play in helping addicted individuals seek treatment. Families should seek out a professional who is willing to educate them on the nuances of addiction, treatment and a successful intervention.
The Family First Difference
At Addiction Treatment Services, we are dedicated to meeting the needs of families who are grappling with a loved one’s addiction. Our professional interventionists travel to families in need of assistance and take the time to discover the underlying tensions that may inhibit constructive discussions. We provide continuing support and counseling services for struggling individuals and their families, often providing valuable resources and support through recovery and even beyond.
Contact an Interventionist ASAP If You Believe That a Loved One Is Struggling with Addiction