In many cases, loved ones and those suffering from severe addiction and alcoholism may be unaware that they need treatment or they may be unwilling to accept help. Despite the best intentions of family and friends, there are occasions when professional intervention is necessary in order to stop the downward spiral of destruction that can be the direct result of alcoholism and/or drug addiction.
If your loved one has a co-occurring psychiatric disorder like post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety, the intervention process becomes even more complicated. People who suffer from these conditions often have trouble understanding the severity of their illness. They may feel too hopeless, fearful or exhausted to reach out for help. Distortions of reality caused by schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety may make it impossible to trust those who care the most. A professional intervention specialist offers the expertise and support you need to bring your loved one into treatment, even under the most stressful circumstances.
Do We Really Need an Intervention?
Statistics compiled by the University of Iowa indicate that up to 10 million Americans have a Dual Diagnosis of addiction and a mental health disorder. Out of this number, a disturbing percentage receive no treatment at all, while others receive treatment for only their addiction or their mental illness. To be effective, a rehabilitation program for co-occurring disorders should integrate treatment for both substance abuse and psychiatric illness. But without an intervention, many Dual Diagnosis individuals may never get the help they need.
Staging an intervention might seem like a desperate, last-ditch measure, but in reality, a professional intervention is a safe, compassionate, organized way to help struggling individuals get the help they need.
If you’re in doubt about whether your loved one needs an intervention, ask yourself the following questions:
- Has my loved one been using alcohol or drugs to manage feelings of despair, sadness, hopelessness or worthlessness for two weeks or more?
- Have they been taken to an emergency room because of drug abuse, alcohol intoxication or a suicide attempt more than once in the past few months?
- Have they run away from home, tried to injure themselves or talked about suicide recently?
- Have they started engaging in behavior that they never would have considered before, like lying, stealing, gambling or having unsafe sex?
- Have I tried to express my concern and convince them to get treatment without success?
- Have they tried to quit drinking or using drugs, but they keep falling back into their destructive behaviors?
If you’ve reached the stage that you feel frustrated, hopeless or frightened by your loved one’s behavior, you may need an intervention to restore a sense of normalcy to your life. Hope is available when you reach out to professionals who have experience and training in the practice of intervention.
Forming An Intervention Team
An intervention team usually consists of family members, friends, coworkers or employers who have been negatively affected by an individual’s addiction. One or more professionals may be included on the team, such as a pastor, a counselor or an intervention specialist. Intervention specialists provide valuable advice on when, how and why to stage an intervention. They can help you decide who should participate in the intervention, and how you can hold the conversation safely and effectively.
During an intervention, each member of the team may come forward to make a statement about your loved one’s substance abuse. Ideally, these statements should be non-confrontational and non-judgmental, but emotions often run high when people talk about their painful experiences. If your loved one has been violent or abusive, some of your family members may be afraid to participate. Selecting a neutral, secure location is essential when you’re dealing with a friend or family member who has volatile emotions.
Intervention Strategies for the Dually Diagnosed
There is more than one way to stage an intervention, and no single approach will work for everyone. The Johnson intervention model is one of the most popular strategies. In this approach, each member of a family unit or intervention team takes turns describing the harm that the individual’s substance abuse has done. The intervention is usually arranged as a surprise, so the individual is caught off guard and doesn’t have time to present a defense. Other methods of intervention involve a less confrontational style that presents rehabilitation as an opportunity for healing and recovery.
Just as Dual Diagnosis treatment varies according to a patient’s psychiatric condition, intervention styles should be flexible enough to accommodate your loved one’s mental health disorder.
A person who is severely depressed may require emotional support during the intervention process to help them overcome feelings of despair, futility and hopelessness. Someone who suffers from anxiety may need a calm, reassuring approach to avoid panic or distress. Individuals with a Dual Diagnosis have complicated needs that often can’t be addressed with the same intervention strategies that work for the rest of the population.
To maximize your chances of success, work with a specialist who has extensive experience and training at Dual Diagnosis interventions.
Professional, Caring Addiction Interventions
Interventions can be extremely difficult to hold successfully without professional assistance. For many of us, interventions represent a “last hope” of sorts in an effort to save those we love. If your situation requires an intervention, we have longstanding relationships with many successful interventionists throughout the country who are serious about treatment and not the kickback some centers provide. If you need the services of a professional interventionist, please just call (844-768-0308) or contact our admissions team and we will help you consider your options.
Intervention Infographic: More Than Just a Meeting
If you need more information or would like to start a discussion online, use this infographic to explore more of the issues around how interventions can help our loved ones.
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