In our experience, interventions can work, but only if the addict or alcoholic is ready to get the help they need. Unfortunately, many people who are in the midst of their addiction also live in a state of denial. They tend to put the blame others, or name outside circumstances as the cause of the negativity in their life instead of naming their drug of choice. Simply put, the addict is living in a distorted reality where their perception of life overrides factual evidence. Even when their own family and friends present the facts to them at an intervention, the addict may still refuse to accept it or take responsibility. A person usually needs to “hit rock bottom” before they acknowledge the problem, and that often means jail, hospitals, or institutions.
Some addiction field advocates suggest using “tough love” in your intervention method. This requires the family and friends of the addict to basically say, “Go to rehab or you are not welcome here”. Others support the “unconditional love” approach that avoids pushing addict into more shame/guilt or instilling the fear of losing their relationships should they refuse recovery assistance at the intervention.
You will have to decide what intervention approach is most appropriate as it is case-specific. In our experience a combination of not enabling the addict’s negative behaviors, and setting boundaries, works best. We may also need to overcome our own denial or negative stigma surrounding our loved one’s addiction. The sooner we overcome, and band together with our family/friends to hold the intervention, the better!
Addiction is a disease, and a progressive one at that, which greatly affects the frontal lobe of the addict. It’s critical the intervention held in a timely fashion as it may limit or mitigate the potential to damage this choice part of the brain.
A professional interventionist is a great resource for planning and holding an intervention. He or she will typically help you prepare before the meeting, serve as a moderator during the intervention itself, and provide assistance in transitioning your loved one into a rehab program. Even if the intervention fails, the events will still “plant a seed” in the mind of the alcoholic/addict that they have a problem. By witnessing first hand the measures that were taken to hold the intervention, the alcoholic/addict may feel less afraid or stigmatized about asking for help in the future.
If you are ready to proceed in holding a loved one’s intervention we suggest you don’t do it alone. Find strength in numbers and seek professional help. Interventions are more effective when an experienced person is on hand to guide the family and friends on participating in a loving and effective manner.
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