The Truth About Intervention
Watching someone you love succumb to drug or alcohol addiction is a dreadful feeling. It’s like watching someone drown from the cliff of a rocky shore; you feel powerless to reach them. While you want to reach for a rope or a life preserver or jump in to save your loved one, others are telling you to let the person sink or swim on their own. But should you let them struggle alone? Can you help them in some way?
Addiction: A Global Problem
Approximately 5% of the world’s population ages 15-64 has used or currently uses an illegal drug. In America, 23.9 million people have used an illegal drug or abused prescription drugs. There are many people who need treatment but may be unable or afraid to ask for help.
Rock Bottom and Intervention: Myths and Facts
Many myths surround drug and alcohol addiction. One powerful myth is that you have to wait for an addict to reach rock bottom before suggesting they enter rehab. Unfortunately, this myth leads many people to hold back their concern until an addict end ups in the hospital or the morgue.
Instead of waiting for an addict to realize his behavior is leading him on the path to destruction, an intervention may be necessary.
You can step in and be their advocate for treatment. You can throw a struggling addict a lifeline, and offer information, support and practical help so they can enter treatment. Intervention may be the wakeup call they need to quit drugs and alcohol for good.
What Is Intervention?
Intervention is a planned confrontation with an addict to help them break through their denial and agree to seek treatment. It’s like shining a light in a dark room to illuminate the cobwebs so they can be swept out — an intervention points out the addict’s destructive behavior so they can take action to quit their addiction.
During an intervention, family and friends gather to help addicts understand the consequences of their behavior. Facts and feelings are shared to help the addict understand how his addiction affects his health, behavior and the people around him. A successful intervention ends with an addict entering drug or alcohol rehab.
Who Is Involved in an Intervention?
Some families choose to schedule an intervention on their own. Family, friends and co-workers may participate in an intervention. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following professionals to help with an intervention:
- Family doctor who knows the addict well
- Licensed drug and alcohol counselor
The specific people you gather to help with an intervention may vary. You should choose trustworthy people who truly love the addicted person. Everyone present at the intervention must take the situation seriously and be ready to follow through on any promises, commitments or statements made during the intervention.
Interventions are an effective way to get your loved one to realize treatment is necessary. It is a powerful technique that should be led by a professional interventionist. Many residential rehab centers work with one or more experienced interventionists who can help you plan and lead this life-changing meeting.
Participation is best limited to those who are closest to your loved one and whose lives have been affected most by the substance abuse. The goal of every intervention is to convince the addicted individual to seek treatment immediately following the meeting.
You and those who participate should have a plan in place to address the addict’s responsibilities, including children, pets, finances, work and other obligations. The interventionist will escort your loved one to rehab and assist with enrollment.
How to Get Someone Into Drug Rehab
Can rehab be forced? The simple answer is no. But an intervention has the best chance of success when it is planned carefully with professionals familiar with the physical, mental and spiritual problems common to drug and alcohol abusers. Find a time when an addict isn’t high or drunk—the addict must be sober enough to understand and absorb what’s being said.
Each member of the intervention team should come to the meeting prepared with facts to share. The emphasis should be on the specific, destructive behaviors exhibited by the addict, and how these effect each person invited to the intervention.
An addict’s parent, for example, may share that stealing money to fuel a drug addiction means there wasn’t enough money to buy groceries for the family for the week. Sharing this and other situations helps addicts understand the consequences of their behavior.
Next, have information handy on drug and alcohol rehab centers. A list of potential rehab centers makes it easier to say yes to treatment. If a professional interventionist is at the meeting, he or she will be very familiar with the process of admitting someone into rehab.
Finally, clearly denote what each person will do if the addict refuses treatment. There have to be consequences for refusing treatment or else an intervention doesn’t work well. Will you stop giving him money? Refuse to let her sleep on your couch? Fire him from his job? Often, painful consequences force change in behavior.
An intervention can be fraught with emotion for everyone. After the intervention is over, be sure to allow yourself and others time to express their feelings. Some family members may cry, others may be angry. It’s important to have a safe place for everyone to vent their emotions.
Holding the Intervention Meeting
Once you’ve put together your plan, choose a time and place for the meeting. Don’t tell the addict the reason for the get-together, or they may refuse to come to the meeting.
Choose a quiet, private place where you won’t be interrupted. Make sure the addict is sober—the message won’t sink in if your loved one is high during the intervention. Leave plenty of time for the meeting and any subsequent follow up actions, such as helping your loved one enter rehab.
After the intervention, several things may happen. The intervention may work immediately, and you’ll help your loved one go to rehab. That’s when having a list of rehab centers comes in handy. This is the best of all possible outcomes.
Another possible outcome is refusal and denial. Denial is one of the most common characteristics among individuals with a substance abuse problem. Drugs and alcohol negatively affect how the brain processes certain functions. Even when substance abuse causes obvious problems, it’s not clear to your loved one that drugs or alcohol are the source of the trouble.
If the addict refuses to acknowledge they have a problem, you may have to put into place the stated consequences from the meeting. You may also need to stage a second or even third intervention.
Another action step available to you is involuntary commitment, or forcing someone to go into rehab. This step may not be available to everyone, but if it is, it is a powerful tool to help your loved one recover from addiction.
Can You Force Someone to Go Into Rehab?
In some states, forcing someone to go to rehab is possible. Approximately 38 states in the U.S. allow some form of forced rehab or involuntary commitment. Forced drug rehab and voluntary rehab have similar outcomes, so forcing rehab on someone may be as effective as voluntary rehab.
Involuntary commitment for addiction typically hinges on one of three factors:
- Police arrest or pickup for addiction
- Emergency hospitalization
- Civil commitment
If an individual is deemed at risk of harm to self or others, involuntary commitment may also be possible. In some states, a judge must intervene to order commitment, while in others involuntary commitment for addiction isn’t allowed at all. For families outside of the United States, the laws will vary according to your country.
How Do You Get Someone Committed to Rehab
It’s an awful feeling to watch someone you love sink into addiction. You feel powerless to help. But there are some things you can do in addition to intervention to get help for addicted family and friends.
Stop enabling their addiction. Enabling means providing the support or means for an addict to continue their behavior. You may be making excuses for them, or taking steps to stop them from being humiliated or embarrassed by their addiction. When you stop enabling someone to continue their addiction, the pressure increases to get sober.
Seek help for yourself. Addicts are notoriously good at manipulating others through passive-aggressive behavior and other techniques to get what they want. You may be inadvertently succumbing to their demands. Seek help and peace of mind from a counselor, psychologist or clergyperson.
It’s too expensive.
It won’t work.
I can’t take the time off from my job.
What will others think of me?
Who will take care of my kids/pets/plants?
I’m too far gone.
Have facts ready to counter these objections. Treatment options may be covered by your health insurance, or payment plans may be available. Statistics are readily available showing how many people try and successfully quit their addiction. You can find someone from your local Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous chapter to share personal stories of sobriety. Whatever the objection may be, have a response ready to counter the objection.
Set limits and boundaries: Addicts will push you to the limit. They’ll beg, plead, threaten and cajole. They’ll refuse treatment and pretend it’s all in your head. Set limits and boundaries in your life and relationship with an addict to protect your own integrity. It’s hard to remain firm when someone you love is in trouble, but it must be done.
Does Intervention Work?
There’s no data to conclusively say whether or not interventions work. It’s difficult to determine what constitutes success when it comes to an intervention. Some addicts seek treatment immediately, while others may need a second intervention or time to consider what’s been said.
It’s not uncommon for people to need more than one intervention, or more than one attempt at kicking an addiction. Often drug and alcohol addicts relapse, or resume abusing their substance of choice. A relapse intervention may also be a powerful step to help someone regain their sense of direction and enter rehab once again.
The big problem with waiting for someone to hit rock bottom is they may not have a chance to recover. Some addicts can go on for years, hurting themselves and others, without really feeling the full impact of their addiction.
Just knowing others care about them may be enough motivation for some addicts to accept and get help. A tearful child, the pleas of a mother – individually both may be ineffective, but taken together during an intervention, these pleas may tip the emotional balance to help someone acknowledge their addiction and agree to rehab.
Finding the Best Rehab Center
Before you choose an interventionist, you must find a rehabilitation center that meets the needs of your addicted loved one. It’s helpful to have a list of rehab centers ready to share with your loved one should he or she agree to go to rehab.
A list of rehab centers is useful for several reasons. First, some centers may be full at the time of the intervention. Having a list ensures that you have several possible rehab centers to choose from if the first ones you call are full.
Second, each rehab center approaches treatment differently. Some have their own treatment models based on 12-step programs, while other emphasize a medical and psychological approach only. Researching various treatment and rehab centers prior to an intervention meeting gives you an idea of their philosophy and approach so that you can suggest the most suitable options for your loved one.
Lastly, rehab costs vary according to the facility, the amenities available and the duration of the patient’s stay. You’ll want to have all of these facts handy if your loved one protests that he or she can’t afford rehab. Knowing the potential costs in advance will help you plan ahead.
Rehab Center Rankings provides you with a detailed list of the top-ranked rehab centers in the nation. Each center will explain more fully how intervention and enrollment works. It can be a useful springboard to help you assess, evaluate and find a good rehab facility.
For more information, find a rehab center on our list and call a counselor for immediate assistance.