What every family needs to know
about drug and alcohol abuse intervention
~by Joe Herzanek
As I move into my third decade working with families and their substance abusing loved ones, I continue to learn. My recent observations have led me to complete my training and now focus primarily on the process of drug and alcohol abuse intervention.
Most people, and many addiction professionals as well, have thought of this as just a way to get someone into treatment. What I’ve come to realize is that a properly executed, well-organized intervention serves several purposes.
Yes, getting a commitment from an addict or alcoholic to seek help is a goal, but it’s not the only one. Statistics show that a typical family will wait 5 to 7 years before confronting the chemical dependency problem—often longer. The skewed belief is that “if the person will just quit, all will be well.” I wish that were true.
Sadly, most substance abusing people do much harm to those closest to them. I’m not talking about physical harm right now—but mental and emotional damage. Spouses, children, siblings, once close friends—get beat up, or perhaps beat down, in their mind and spirit.
By the time most people call for help, they say things like “I’m at my wits’ end.” “I can’t take this anymore.” “I feel like the life has been drained out of me.” “The kids don’t understand what’s happening.” “I NEED HELP.”
Attempts at a logical and honest discussion with the person have only led to arguing, denial and fighting. So what needs to happen? How do we confront or intervene in this person’s life, to stop the insanity and end the drama?
What does a formal, well-planned drug and alcohol abuse intervention look like? It is a time when family and friends come together to intervene in the life of a person whose life is spinning out of control—typically because of chronic substance abuse. It means sitting in a circle and speaking the truth in love. This event usually takes about an hour (two at the most) and is a powerful defining time in the lives of all involved.
Here is where a professional, organized, well thought out and planned intervention will bring this to a final conclusion—no more pain, no more arguing, no more drama—a real solution. Wouldn’t that be nice?
This can happen even if the loved one chooses to not accept the help being offered.
Approximately 85% of the time, this person will accept the help that is being offered. This means that 15% will still refuse to acknowledge their dependency problem. At this point it will be made clear to them that there are consequences for choosing to continue substance use. Some in the group will share what is called a “bottom line letter.” This letter makes it clear to the loved one—that no on in the group will continue to do anything that supports substance use.
Every family wants an end to being “held hostage” by the person who has turned into a stranger right before their eyes. At the same time, most want to know they did all they could possibly do, to offer “real help.”
Regardless of the outcome, an effective drug and alcohol abuse intervention leaves the family with no more shame, blame, “I wish I woulda…” second-guessing. The intervention is—a final solution. Hopefully the person has chosen to accept the help that is offered at the end of the intervention. Most do.
Either way, those affected by the substance abuse can move on with their lives knowing they did their best. No more guilt, no regrets and no more drama.
One-on-one confrontations with the alcoholic or addict will result in the addict winning almost every time. When we change the “one-on-one” to a small group of well-prepared family, friends and/or employers, the group will be able to bring about dramatic results.
The time to act is now.
Grace and Peace,
Alcohol Abuse Intervention, Alcohol Abuse Intervention
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Drug and Alcohol Abuse Intervention: The Solution for Families Held Hostage by Alcohol and Substance Abuse ~by Joe Herzanek
Drug Addiction Intervention ~By Ned Wicker