When one person in a family struggles with addiction, the likelihood that another family member will also struggle with drug or alcohol dependence increases. Though it has long been known that genetics can play a role in the development of a substance abuse problem, little attention has been paid to the fact that genetics and family influence have a big impact on the person’s ability to recover as well – starting with the intervention.
Should Addicted Family Members Attend the Intervention?
Anyone who is living with an active addiction, no matter what their relationship with the addicted person, should not attend the intervention. Why? Because their encouragement to get treatment will not ring true to the addicted person.
Additionally, it can throw the focus of the entire intervention off track. It’s not uncommon for the addicted person to attempt to turn the tables on participants and if one of them is addicted to drugs and alcohol and has not sought help, then it decreases the likelihood that the addicted person will see the benefits of entering rehab.
Can Family Members Who Drink or Use Drugs Participate in the Intervention?
Though it is possible to responsibly drink alcohol, anyone who abuses illegal drugs of any kind or drinks to excess (e.g., binge drinking on the weekends or after work), should not take part. Again, the hypocrisy of someone who abuses drugs or alcohol will be felt acutely by the addicted person, and it will be difficult to keep the intervention on track.
Are Past Addicts Able to Contribute Positively to an Intervention?
There is something to be said for the benefit of experience. When someone has lived through an addiction, gone through treatment, and found recovery on the other side, it can demonstrate like nothing else that it is possible to overcome addiction. In fact, this person can be one of the most effective participants at an intervention.
Not Just Genetics, but Environments
It’s not just whether or not another family member abuses drugs or alcohol that influences the choices of others in the family. A permissive attitude toward substance abuse can mean that family members have easy access to drugs and alcohol as well as no boundaries imposed by others on their use – two factors that can mean an early introduction to drug use and an increased chance of developing a drug dependence.
Enabling family members – or, those who have made it easier for the addicted person to stay in addiction – may not realize that their behaviors encourage their addicted loved one to avoid treatment. An intervention is a prime place to make it clear that whether or not the addicted person agrees to go to treatment, use of drugs and alcohol will no longer be tolerated or supported in any way.
Would You Like Help Staging an Intervention for Your Family Member?
The dynamics of the family will have a huge impact on the intervention. Complicated relationships can make it difficult to stage an effective intervention without professional assistance. A family mediator can help to bridge the gap between how the family has functioned in the past during addiction and how they can interact and support each other in the future through treatment. Call us at the phone number listed above to get connected with a family mediator who can assist you.
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton