If you have a family member or close friend who has a substance abuse problem, you will know all too well how much their behavior damages their relationships, and affects the people closest to them. Often the person with the problem doesn’t see or understand this, as they are too wrapped in where their next drink or their next fix is going to come from to notice or even care.
If someone has a problem with drugs or alcohol, he is the only person who can decide if he is ready to get help with his addiction. However, you can help the person see the problems his substance abuse is causing — both for himself and for other people — by staging interventions.
However, if you are going to go down this road, you need to be prepared to stick with your friend or relative throughout the whole recovery process. An intervention is not an opportunity for you to vent your anger about how their substance abuse has affected you; it is a chance to show them that you care about the damage they are doing to their lives, and that you are willing to help them recover from their addiction in the long-term.
Staging an Effective Intervention
Many people think it is enough to gather friends and family together and to “ambush” the individual concerned with a list of their issues and grievances. This helps no one, and is actually more likely to make the person with the substance abuse problem feel even worse about themselves, turning to their drug of choice for comfort.
In order to stage effective interventions, you should make sure you have advice and input from a professional, either a therapist or a drug and alcohol counselor. They understand best how to talk to an addict in terms that will make them understand the impact of their decision, without sending them spiraling into further drink or drug use because of feelings of guilt.
It is particularly important that you ask for advice from a professional, or even ask them to attend your planned intervention, if the family member you are confronting has a history of mental illness or suicide. Having the support of a trained therapist can help to keep the intervention on track, while also ensuring that the mental health of the person involved is being protected at all times.
In addition, for your own safety, it might be useful to consult an expert if the drugs that they are using could be affecting their behavior. Some substance abuse can cause people to become violent or to behave unpredictably; if this happens at an intervention, it could be useful to have a professional drugs counselor in attendance to ensure that the situation does not spiral out of control.
Do Interventions Work?
Interventions can often be the wake-up call that an individual needs to finally realize the damage their substance abuse is doing to themselves, and to their family and friends. It is only the first step in a long and difficult process, but they cannot hope to recover from addiction without first accepting that they have a problem and asking for help.
Of course, interventions do not always work; sometimes an individual may not yet be ready to face the consequences of their addiction, and may be unwilling to listen to reason. This can be upsetting for friends and family taking part, but you should not give up. Keep faith with them, as future interventions may prove to be more successful.