When is a Family Intervention Appropriate?

A Family Intervention is done when all other options have been exhausted in trying to get the addict to voluntarily admit he/she needs help.

The first action is to pick the person that the addicts has the most comfort with and can easily converse. It should be someone who truly wants the best for the addict and believes that they can better themselves. This can also includes people outside the family as long as the intention is the same.

It should be remembered that the Family Intervention isn’t the first attempt to get an addict the help that he needs. Many families cannot confront the out-ethics issues with the addict on an individual basis because they are afraid of having the same reaction and disappointments that they have had in the past.

Remember that it is okay if the addict in an intervention get angry, cry, leave the house and even become violent. Sometimes family will pick the person in the family who has been the rule-setter, many times the father. This isn’t usually successful in these types of actions because of the lack of flexibility and the past history. This intervention must be based on caring. Do not be angry or get confrontational. Make sure that the addict knows that the person that he is talking to is someone he can trust and is on his side. There should be no alternative motives. The addict will know almost immediately that the process is meant to get help, but a loving person can show the person that help is not a threatening process and can lead to successes even if it hasn’t in the past.

If you have a one-on-one talk with the addict with the person described above, and it still gets no results, then you are looking at having a Family Intervention.

Important Points of the Cycle of the Intervention:
1) Before you even start the intervention, you should have picked the appropriate treatment center and be working with their intake counselor to help with details that only they would know.

We know that you are in a hurry to get this intervention done and save the life of your loved one, but you have to spend the days it takes to find that “right” treatment center before you ever talk to the addict or certainly do an intervention.

2) When you make choices of who should be part of the intervention, pick those persons that are fall under the same criteria that you did in the section above…someone that truly cares for the well being of the addict. There will usually be people in the family that have a history of confronting the addict in sessions that have ended in fights and anger. If at all possible, do not involve these persons in the family intervention.

3) Describe the consequences of things that will transpire if the person does not agree to go to treatment. Your main goal is to show the addict that treatment can be more pleasurable than his present life and that the outcome will certainly be better. Appeal to the visceral feelings in the addict that are driving them to stay on drugs. We all want please moments and the more emotional pain we are in the more we need them. Remember that light actions usually get better outcomes that harsh ones.

4) You next step is to get everyone that is going to participate in the intervention to all be on the same page on the important aspects of this process, like the treatment center that you have chosen and the approach that you are taking to not invalidate the addict, but to build on his strengths. It is impossible to have everyone on the same page, but be sure that everyone understand that disagreements at this stage will ruin the process.

5) Have everyone make a list of the things that they want to say to the addict. Again, remember not to be invalidating, but to be encouraging and to build on the person’s strengths. Make sure that everyone understands that the negative behaviors that have been exhibited are part of drug addiction and not the way the person feels in his heart. Talk about strengths in his character and things that he also knows are his strengths and let him know how they have been missing for all the time that he has been on drugs. It can include what others in the family have been going through because of the addiction… the worry, lack of sleep, legal expenses, but don’t be heavy-handed on the negative… bring out the way life was before addiction.

6) Next you have to chose a place and time that is going to be effective. If you have it first thing in the morning when the addict is awakening from a long night of use, he won’t be able to hear you because he is only thinking about his next dose of drugs. Chose a time when he isn’t craving to a large degree and when everyone can be there without any interruptions. Turn off all cell phones and land lines as well.

7) Be ready to start with the idea that it isn’t going to become a heated discussion or fight, but a calm and loving conversation about the excitement of getting help.- By the end, if you don’t have agreement to start treatment then you have to insistent that you cannot and will not participate in his current life style or sit by and watch him destroy his life. When you have his agreement, don’t bargain with the timeline. This has to be your call and it needs to be that same day if at all possible. You will lose all the work that you have done if you let him go out again with his other drug users. You must be firm on this point or you will see that it will be a “yes I will go” when I am ready, which will never happen.

If you are serious about doing a family intervention, then call us and let our experienced counselors help you with these details.

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