group intervention

There are few things that substance abusers and addicts can face truthfully and confidently, not the least of which is their problem with compulsive and continuing drug use. While they may need help, support and encouragement to overcome substance abuse or addiction, they are rarely able to handle a confrontation from family members or friends. Interventions are often considered as high-pressure, intensely emotional and confrontational meetings wherein substance abusers are essentially guilted or forced into rehabilitation treatment. Even an individual who recognizes that drug use is controlling their life and who desires to be free from the compulsion to use drugs is yet unwilling to experience an intervention. However, interventions can often be the best way to help someone acknowledge that they have a problem with drugs, that they need help and that help is available.

Why Hold an Intervention

There are several reasons why an intervention may be necessary, including the substance abuser’s inability to see the truth in their situation, as well as the intense physical and psychological cravings that drive their every thought and action and cause them to deny that there is a problem.

The poor physical, mental and emotional health of a substance abuser or addict can be quite obvious to onlookers, and yet the individual himself may be oblivious to the full extent of damages caused by drug use. The reason for this is the very gradual deterioration of the individual’s “normal” over time, as well as their increasing certainty that drugs are necessary for their survival. An individual who is tired of fighting the cravings to use drugs every day, and who is concerned about their health and happiness, may yet have a distorted view of the truth, and may not have the true sense of urgency necessary to pursue full recovery.

Substance abusers who deny that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol or who deny that they need help in order to resolve their problem may do so for different reasons. Some substance abusers deny that they have a problem because they don’t want to admit that they cannot handle the problem, some substance abusers deny that they have a problem because they don’t feel that there is a way for them to achieve full recovery, and still other substance abusers deny that they have a problem because they genuinely don’t believe that they do. No matter the reason for their denial, substance abusers need help from others who truly care about them.

Holding an Intervention

Interventions can be highly successful, but only if properly planned and carried out. Family members and friends who are concerned about a loved one’s substance abuse and addiction problems may have the very best of intentions, and yet may not understand the necessary components to a successful intervention and so may fail to bring it to the desired conclusion.

For this reason, the first step to holding a successful intervention is to educate oneself on drugs and their effects, especially the drug or drugs in use. Understanding how drugs work in the body is critical to one’s ability to encourage and support the recovering substance abuser. It can also help resolve one’s own difficult emotions of confusion, anger and grief over the substance abuser’s continued destructive actions.

The next important step in planning an intervention is for family members and friends who desire to be part of the intervention team to meet with a professional interventionist. Whether the interventionist is present at the actual intervention meeting or not, they can help the intervention team plan and prepare for a successful intervention. Even after educating oneself in the truth about drugs and their effects, family members and friends can still struggle to understand why the substance abuser would apparently willingly destroy their life and relationships for drugs. A professional interventionist can help them understand the phases of addiction and how they can best help their loved one recover.

While it is not recommended that the intervention team get highly emotional during an intervention meeting, it is important that they outline specifics about how the substance abuser’s behavior has had an impact on their own lives. This can often be an eye-opening experience for the substance abuser, who up to that point may have believed that their drug use affected only them and was therefore their business and concern alone. A professional interventionist can help coach each individual on the intervention team in how to state these life impact points to the substance abuser without taking on an accusatory tone.

It is also very important for the intervention team to list out the exact consequences that will result from the individual’s failure to pursue rehabilitation treatment and continue their drug or alcohol use. Depending on the individual, some consequences can include the withdrawal of financial, emotional or other support. In some cases, a substance abuser may even be asked to leave the family home. The point of outlining these consequences is not to make idle threats, but to make it clear to the individual that continuing their substance abuse patterns will not be tolerated by family members and friends because they are destructive to self and others. It can happen that an individual refuses to seek treatment immediately after an intervention meeting, but does reach out for help and treatment when named consequences actually occur.

Professional interventionists recommend that the intervention team rehearses the intervention meeting as much as necessary in order to iron out specific details, including the order in which the participants will speak and how anticipated objections will be addressed and resolved. The intervention team must also research a rehabilitation facility and program that will best meet the individual’s needs, because presenting a workable solution to the individual is one important element of a successful intervention meeting.

Once the intervention team feels confident that the meeting will run as planned, they need to schedule a meeting time and place that will most likely contribute to a successful outcome. It needs to be a time when the substance abuser is least likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and when the substance abuser will not have another pressing engagement that

allows them to leave the meeting early. It also needs to be in a location that the substance abuser will feel comfortable in, like a loved one’s home.

The actual intervention meeting itself should proceed as rehearsed, with the intervention team maintaining a calm environment as much as possible. Once the substance abuser admits that they have a problem and they need help, the intervention team can quickly move them into rehabilitation treatment.

The Outcome of Successful Interventions

Obviously, an intervention is successful when a substance abusing individual recognizes that they have a problem, that they need help, and that help is available. However, this may not immediately happen for all individuals and that does not necessarily mean that their intervention was a failure. An intervention that is well planned and carried out can gently encourage the individual into recognizing the truth, even if there is a delay in admitting it. It is important to recognize that while the individual himself has the greatest power in resolving their substance abuse and addiction problems, it is often with the care and support of family members and friends that they are able to rise to that awareness themselves.