The number of people in the United States who struggle with addictions to drugs and/or alcohol is on the rise, according to experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, as addiction diagnoses have risen 70 percent between the years 2001 and 2009. Stats like this seem to suggest that more and more people are drowning their sorrows with substances, and they’re looking for advanced help in order to recover. It’s a startling and sad fact of modern life.

However, focusing on addiction diagnoses might mean ignoring some very real, and very persistent, cases of addiction. After all, many people who develop these compulsive relationships with substances don’t ever admit that they have a problem, and they certainly don’t agree to talk to a doctor about the issue. But, as the addictions deepen, their families may become aware of the issue, and they might also begin to suffer.

Thankfully, there are some things that families can do in order to eradicate addiction. Holding an intervention may be a good place to start. Families that choose to confront the issue in a direct manner could help to push the person into treatment programs that could help.

Who Needs an Intervention?

Put plainly, an intervention is a conversation about addiction, held in the presence of the person who has the addiction. These talks can be somewhat painful, as the family is required to outline all of the changes the addiction has caused, along with all of the changes they’d like to see in the addict’s behavior in the future. The tone is positive and loving, but the talk can also be emotionally draining for everyone involved. As a result, this is the sort of step that’s taken for people who have serious problems that can impact the health, wealth and sanity of the family.

Issues of substance use and abuse often prompt an intervention, as people who dabble in drugs and alcohol often lose control of their ability to lead a healthy and productive life. As the addiction unfolds, the substance becomes the most important part of the person’s life, and that addicted person might be willing to say or do almost anything to keep the flow of drugs coming.

While substance abuse is certainly serious, it isn’t the only type of issue that might merit a formal intervention. In fact, there are many other types of behaviors that have been linked to significant family distress, and these issues might also prompt a family to hold a formal intervention.

People who gamble, for example, often put the entire financial security of the family on the line, and they might feel incapable of staying away from games of chance, including:

  • Casino games
  • Online games
  • Office betting pools
  • Informal card games
  • Lottery games

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, about two million people in the United States can be considered pathological gamblers, meaning that they’re compulsively connected to the activity and find it difficult or impossible to stop. These people might benefit from an intervention, as the talk may convince them to change for the better.

Similarly, some people become addicted to videogames. Some of these games are incredibly sophisticated, allowing participants to develop entirely unique personalities and connect with people they might never meet in real life. In time, people can become so enamored with the life they lead inside of the game that they withdraw from the real world altogether. These people might also need a wake-up call in an intervention.

In general, when people behave in ways that the family finds baffling or dangerous, and some kind of substance or activity is at the heart of that change in behavior, an intervention is in order. By talking things over clearly and directly, the family has the best opportunity to really turn things around for the better.

Planning for the Talk

While families might be eager to address the situation right away and get the person on the path to healing as quickly as possible, interventions aren’t the sorts of discussions that can be held on the fly. Instead, these are formal discussions that should be planned out and rehearsed well in advance.

Often, families begin the process by hiring an interventionist. These professionals have experience in confronting people who have addictions, and they often have a significant amount of knowledge about how addictions work and how they can be treated. Families who partner with an interventionist can spend time learning about addictions, and they can develop a game plan for intervention day. The professional can make this planning easy.

With the interventionist in place, families can then decide who will participate in the talk. People who have a close connection with the addicted person, along with knowledge of how the addiction has unfolded, are typically considered vital parts of the team. Everyone who is invited to participate should be sure to attend all rehearsal sessions, along with the intervention itself, in order to ensure the very best outcome.

Practice sessions are a vital part of the planning process for the team, as they’ll use this time to outline what words they’ll use during the talk, and the order in which they’ll speak. Families can also use rehearsals to prepare for the excuses or objections an addicted person might make during an intervention. According to research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, people who have addictions often claim that they can’t enter treatment programs because they:

  • Aren’t ready to stop using
  • Can’t afford care
  • Will lose their jobs by taking that time off
  • Feel that their neighbors or friends will look down on them
  • Can handle the problem without treatment
  • Don’t know where to go to get treatment

Families can use their rehearsal time to come up with answers and solutions for all the concerns an addicted person might express during an intervention.

Holding the Discussion

Planning for an intervention can take a significant amount of time, and some families find that dredging up their feelings about the addiction over and over again can be an emotionally draining process that leaves them weary before the intervention even begins.

It’s important to remember, however, that all this work really can pay off. In an often-quoted study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, for example, researchers found that 64 percent of families that participated in a CRAFT intervention were able to encourage a resistant person to enter a treatment program for alcohol. These addicts might never go into treatment without prodding, but an intervention can make it happen.

During the intervention, the family often follows a script they’ve developed during the rehearsal phase, outlining how the addiction seems to impact the addict and the family, and each speaker encourages the addict to enter a treatment program for addiction. As soon as the addict agrees to attend, the discussion is over.

Families that have an interventionist on the team rely on that person to control the conversation and step in if something seems to go wrong. Some addicts become defensive and need to take breaks, for example, while others grow angry and need the words of an outsider to help them calm down. Families that don’t have an interventionist may rely on some trusted family member to fill this referee role.

Following Through on Promises

The moment when an addicted person agrees to get treatment can be wonderful for families. After all, this is the point in which their messages of love and concern are finally taken seriously, and the addicted person might finally have the opportunity to get better and leave the addiction behind as a result.

But families must plan ahead if they want to maximize the momentum that an intervention can bring. Specifically, they’ll need to choose a treatment program for the addicted person, and complete some parts of the enrollment process. This can help to ensure that treatment can begin just as soon as the intervention is over.

Choosing the right treatment program can seem difficult or even impossible, but families have a great deal of expertise they can tap into. The family doctor, for example, might have recommendations about treatment programs that might be appropriate for the addicted person, and the interventionist might also have opinions about the treatments that may or may not be appropriate in this specific situation. Families can also conduct their own in-depth research of the treatment options available, and make their decisions based on the knowledge they have of the health, habits and preferences of the addict in question.

If you’re searching for the right treatment program to help someone you love, we hope you’ll consider Black Bear Lodge. We’re located in Georgia, but we work with families all across the country. We work hard to explain our philosophy and methods to families in need, and we can back up the efficacy of each treatment method we use with scientific studies that some families find incredibly reassuring. We can work with insurance companies to get treatment authorized, and we can streamline the enrollment process, so people can get right to work on healing as soon as they arrive. Our program is appropriate for people at any stage in the addiction process, and we’d like to tell you more about it. Please call, and let’s start talking.