When someone in the family is struggling with addiction, it’s common that all the family relationships feel strained. Often, there is an elephant in the room that no one is talking and the tension in the room when everyone is together is often thick.
When Is Family Intervention Necessary?
If that discomfort continues to grow, likely someone will finally say something. However, if the one struggling with the addiction continues to deny that there is a problem, or if he or she refuses to get treatment, then perhaps a family intervention is necessary.
It’s a delicate situation. If the one with the addiction is not ready, then an intervention might go completely wrong. Yet, sometimes when faced with the care and love of family members, someone with an addiction might be willing to enter treatment.
An intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one or many people – usually family and friends – to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction or some other traumatic event or crisis. When a family intervenes, they do so to strongly encourage, if not force, their loved one to get treatment for their addiction.
Mental Health Professional
Because of the delicate situation, it’s important to hire a mental health professional who can facilitate the intervention in the best way possible. Sometimes, this professional is called an Interventionist. However, at other times, the one who is facilitating an intervention might not have a formal title, other than someone who is in the mental health field. Of course, there are specific group facilitation skills that would be necessary. Therefore, it’s important to hire someone who has experience in intervention facilitation. Typically, he or she would help the family with:
- Finding out more about the addiction, such as the history of the addiction, its strength, and the drug of choice. This could play a role in the addict’s decision to enter treatment, depending on the circumstances.
- Overseeing which of the family members will participate in the intervention. Some members of the family might be too hurt by the consequences of the addiction that participating may not be a good idea.
- Supporting the family in staying firm in their message to their loved one. It’s often easy for family members to waver on their encouragement to seek treatment. They want to see their loved one get help but they also might empathize with the resistance to treatment and the large change that the addict will have to endure.
- Following up after the intervention. Once the intervention is done, family members might need additional support, such as counseling and education on the possibility of relapses.
If you and your family member are considering an intervention with a loved one, you will want to take some time to make a firm decision. The following can assist in your decision-making; these are signs to look for in someone who is experiencing a troubling addiction:
- Anxiety – When someone is under stress and if he or she does not have the coping skills to manage that stress, it’s easy to turn to drugs.
- Depression – Sometimes depression can lead to drinking or drug use. An individual might feel so uncomfortable with who they are, how are their lives are functioning, and it hurts. The dissatisfaction with one’s life, the inability to feel anything, the lack of connection with oneself and others might stimulate the desire to drink or use drugs.
- Social Alienation – Withdrawing is a pattern for many people who experience depression, who have to face stressful situations at work, or who don’t have the coping skills to manage their emotions well. Yet, in their aloneness and in their inability to deal with their emotions, drugs or drinking can become their coping mechanism of choice.
- Emotional Avoidance – Not having the skills to cope with difficult feelings as well as not wanting to feel them can easily lead to using drugs as an avoidance mechanism.
- Risk Taking – Some people never grow and heal from their childhood wounds. They might make choices that are based on childish thinking; they might engage in risk taking behavior as a means to feel themselves or to have fun, which perhaps wasn’t what they experienced as a child, especially if they had to grow up fast. Taking drugs releases dopamine in the brain helps to feel good, especially if life is challenging, and provides a high that changes the internal experience from feeling heavy to light and happy.
A family intervention can be a very effective tool, if used well and at the right time. Consult a mental health professional for further assistance when making this decision.