Knowing someone who has an addiction is not uncommon, but knowing the best way to help a loved one with any type of addiction can be confusing and even scary. When someone has an addiction, it can affect every aspect of their lives as well as the lives of their loved ones. You will inevitably be concerned about your loved one, and it can be difficult to know what to do and what not to do, but it is important to remember that Recovery is a solution. Read on as we…

What is an Addiction intervention?

An addiction intervention is a carefully planned process that may be done by family and friends, in consultation with a doctor or professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counsellor or directed by an intervention professional (interventionist). It sometimes involves a member of your loved one’s faith or others who care about the person struggling with addiction.

The Intervention may be as follows:

  • Provides specific examples of destructive behaviours and their impact on your loved one with the addiction and family and friends
  • Offers a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals and guidelines
  • Spells out what each person will do if your loved one refuses to accept treatment

During the intervention, these people gather together to confront their loved ones about the consequences of addiction and ask them to accept treatment.

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Intervention: Help A Loved One Overcome Addiction

An intervention can motivate someone to seek help for alcohol or drug misuse, compulsive eating, or other addictive behaviours. It is challenging to help a loved one struggling with any type of addiction. Sometimes a direct, heart-to-heart conversation can start the road to recovery. But when it comes to addiction, the person with the problem often struggles to see it and acknowledge it. A more focused approach is often needed. You may need to join forces with others and take action through a formal intervention.

Examples of addictions that may warrant an intervention include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Compulsive eating
  • Compulsive
  • A chain smoker

Why Consulting An Addiction Professional

Consulting an addiction professional, such as a licensed counsellor, a social worker, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or an interventionist, can help you organize an effective intervention campaign. An addiction professional will take into account your loved one’s particular circumstances, suggest the best approach, and help guide you in what type of treatment and follow-up plan is likely to work best.

Often interventions are conducted without an intervention professional, but having expert help may be preferable. Sometimes the intervention occurs at the professional’s office. It may be especially important to have the professional attend the actual intervention to help you stay on track if your loved one:

  • Has a history of serious mental illness
  • Has a history of violence
  • Has shown suicidal behaviour or recently talked about suicide
  • May be taking several mood-altering substances

It is very important to consult an intervention professional if you suspect your loved one may react violently or self-destructively.

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An Intervention Usually Includes The Following Steps:

  • Proper Planning: A family member or friend proposes an intervention and forms a planning group. It is best if you consult with a qualified professional counsellor, an addiction professional, a psychologist, a mental health counsellor, a social worker or an interventionist to help you organize an effective intervention. Often times an intervention is a highly charged situation with the potential to cause anger, resentment and other uncertainties.
  • Forming The Intervention Team: The planning group forms a team that will personally participate in the intervention. When properly set, the team members set a date and location and work together to present a consistent, rehearsed message and a structured plan. Often, nonfamily members of the team help keep the discussion focused on the facts of the problem and shared solutions rather than strong emotional responses. Don’t let your loved one know what you are doing until the day of the intervention.
  • Gathering Vital Information: The group members find out about the extent of their loved one’s problem and research the condition and treatment programs. The group may initiate arrangements to enrol your loved one in a specific treatment program.
  • Holding Regular Intervention Meetings: Without revealing the reason, your loved one with the addiction is asked to the intervention site. Members of the team then take turns expressing their concerns and feelings. Your loved one is presented with a treatment option and asked to accept that option on the spot. Each team member will say what specific changes he or she will make if your loved one doesn’t accept the plan. Don’t threaten a consequence unless you’re ready to follow through with it.
  • Do Follow-Up: Involving a spouse, family members or others is critical to help someone with an addiction stay in treatment and avoid relapsing. This can include changing patterns of everyday living to make it easier to avoid destructive behaviour, offering to participate in counselling with your loved one, seeking your own therapist and recovery support, and knowing what to do if relapse occurs.

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Once you have noticed the signs of addiction in your loved one like an Alcohol Addiction or Street drug Addiction, you will need to know how to talk to and treat them in a way that is positive and helpful. There are several ways to do this, some easy to practice and others that require a little more effort and understanding on your part. Here are a few dos and don’ts for helping a loved one deal with addiction.

Always Have Compassion: Addiction is a disease. Normally, we wouldn’t fault someone with a physical disease, like diabetes or cancer instead, we would likely be compassionate and willing to help them survive their illness. Addiction deserves the same compassion and understanding. Recognize that addiction is not a character flaw or a choice, but rather a disease. It is also crucial to understand there may be external factors that encourage an addiction, like stress or mental illness. Addiction is often a coping mechanism for stress, providing temporary relief. The fleetingness of the relief may contribute to repeatedly seeking out potentially destructive habits that develop over time into an Alcohol or other type of Addiction.

Do Not Criticize: Human nature sometimes forces us to shift the blame because it is easier to understand a problem if we know its source. But the cause of addictions isn’t so black and white, so there is never really just one thing to blame. Most importantly, always understand that the person with the addiction is not at fault for the disease.

Avoid implying or outright stating that your loved one is to blame for their addiction. Shaming or criticizing a family member who is struggling with a street drug or compulsive addiction is often counterproductive to their Recovery. While the show of love and understanding may have a small part in helping, this is not the place for it.

Do Not Expect Immediate Change: One of the best ways to be realistic in your expectations while helping a compulsive gambler or street, is through having a long-term Recovery plan, it is not a quick fix. It is an ongoing process for your loved one that takes time, effort and continued support from professionals and family alike. Some treatments may work for some time and then need to be changed.

If one treatment does not work, it does not mean all treatments will fail. It just means you will have to find the specific one that will work for your loved one.

Do Not Give In To Manipulation: When a person with an addiction is unwilling to seek treatment, they will resort to whatever they need to do to continue feeding their addiction. This may include lying or trying to guilt the people who care for them. It’s important to establish boundaries and learn how to say no. It may be very difficult to not react negatively or to stick to your established rules, but it’s necessary for everyone involved.

Always Take Care of Yourself: Indulging in self-care is not selfish, especially when you’re helping someone dealing with addiction. You cannot let the addiction of your loved one derail your own life. Continue with healthy activities, like hobbies and social outings, and take care to look after yourself. Therapy or counselling is part of that process, but indulging in activities that aren’t centred around your loved one is necessary. Determine what it is that you need to keep yourself well and indulge in it.

Do Not Violate Their Privacy: In taking care of yourself and attending therapy, you may be tempted to vent about your loved one with an addiction. While you should be as honest about your feelings as possible when getting therapy, it’s important to respect their privacy. This is especially relevant when discussing someone with addiction with friends or family.

Make sure the person is okay with being talked about and having their struggles discussed. If you attend counselling with your loved one, make sure you don’t reveal what was said in the session to others. If your loved one attends therapy or counselling on their own and doesn’t want to discuss what they talked about in session, respect that and don’t push them for details.

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