Why follow these steps to approaching an addict?
Substance abuse and addiction is a difficult concept to face, for both the addict and their loved ones. Both alcohol and drug addiction has the ability to alter a user’s brain chemistry in ways that make it nearly impossible to quit without professional assistance. In addition to this, the shame and embarrassment associated with the illness also leads many addicts to refuse to admit to their problem, and therefore, deny the proper assistance. Thus, it is often necessary for an addict’s loved ones to step in.
Approaching an addict about getting help is no simple task. When presented the wrong way, it could push the person further away and do more harm than good. With this being said, it is important to have plan before intervening.
How to Stage an Intervention
- Educate yourself about addiction
Addiction is difficult to identify with for those who do not struggle with substance abuse. Most addicts will feel misunderstood by their loved ones and therefore, refuse to open up and accept help. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with what addicts are going through will allow you to approach your loved one in a less judgmental and threatening way.
- Discover what drug(s) your loved one is using
It is important to know what you are dealing with, as different drugs affect people in different ways. Oftentimes a heroin addict will behave differently than, let’s just say, an alcoholic.
- Research the specific drug(s) at hand
Not only will identifying the substance help you recognize potential signs and symptoms of abuse, but it will also help you determine what steps to take when considering detox and treatment. For example, substances such as heroin, cocaine, alcohol and prescription medications will almost always require professional support during the process of detoxification.
- Look into possible treatment options
There are countless treatment options available for struggling addicts. Therefore, it is important to do your research in order to determine the option that will be most beneficial. For instance, the severity of the addiction will affect which program your loved one attends. While outpatient treatment may be enough for those with mild addictions, inpatient treatment is recommended for those who struggle with a moderate to severe drug or alcohol dependency. In addition to this, each individual will find value in different programs. Alternative therapies such as yoga, massage therapy, and chiropractic care may be strong aids for some patients, while others will benefit from more traditional treatments such as 12-Step programs, or faith centered care. Price must also be considered in most cases, as most people will not have an unlimited budget or the required insurance carrier.
- Gather other friends and family members to help
There is a good chance that you are not the only one concerned about your loved ones addiction. Talk to close friends and family members about how they feel, and present them with the information you’ve gathered thus far. Go over possible treatment options and ask if they would give you their support. In many situations, it is best to confront an addict with more than one person. This way they can truly see how widespread the effects of their habit has become.
- Prepare for a negative reaction
In most cases, your loved one is not going to respond well to being confronted about their substance abuse. They may feel, angry, hurt, embarrassed, confused, or a wide range of other negative emotions. It may feel like you are doing the wrong thing after they begin to react. Yet, you must prepare for this and constantly remind yourself that this is what needed to be done, and it will be largely beneficial in the long run. You truly have nothing to lose, as the worst case scenario would involve you doing nothing at all.
- Conduct the intervention
Professional assistance is recommended during the intervention. Licensed therapists and counselors known as interventionists have the experience necessary to steer the intervention in the right direction. Interventionists working at WhiteSands Treatment Center can not only help you lay the groundwork for this meeting, but they can guide you and your family during this process. They will stress the importance of listening in a non-judgmental manner, and teach participants to avoid presenting accusations. It is vital to be supportive and loving, but firm when discussing your fears, feelings, and plans for the future.
- Post intervention
The goal of an intervention is to get your loved one to accept help for their addiction. In most cases, this comes in the form of addiction rehabilitation and recovery. If the addict agrees to get help, lay out the options for them (this you should have already researched). If they choose to deny help, you must have consequences for this. Let them know you will always be there for them should they decide to accept help, but until then you must walk away.
- Follow through with plans
A key factor to an intervention is to make sure that everyone who participated follows through with the original plan. If your loved one refuses treatment, you must stop enabling them, and possibly cut off communication until they are ready. This may be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but no matter how much you love them, their relationship with drugs is toxic and it could harm your family. On the other hand, if the addict agrees to treatment, you must make sure that the option is still available, and that you will support them 100 percent through the process.
- Learn to move on
Regardless of which decision your loved one has made, you cannot continue to hold their past mistakes against them. This does not mean ignore potential signs of a relapse if they should arise. If you suspect them of using again, confront them. Let them know you trust them, but you do not want to ignore any potential warning signs. Through all of this, remember that you have done everything in your power to help your loved one. There may come a time when you have to let go and leave the rest up to them.
Addiction does not have to be a Dead End
Preparation is a vital factor of the intervention process. By going through these steps, you will have provided your loved one with a foundation for recovery. Although in many circumstances they may not accept help immediately, it is likely that this process will leave them thinking about the consequences of their actions. Drug and alcohol addiction can be a debilitating illness, but with knowledge, love, support, and professional assistance your family can find peace and happiness once again.