Are Family Interventions a Good Option for a Struggling Drug Addict?

Are Family Interventions a Good Option for a Struggling Drug Addict?


Doing a full scale, formal intervention for the struggling alcoholic or drug addict in your family may be a decent option. But before you dive in and try to organize one, I think there are some things that you should know first.

The first thing I would like to suggest is that the person who is most strongly considering the intervention should go to Al-anon meetings. Whoever most wants to do the intervention should definitely consider doing this because they need to have a strong foundation knowledge of how addiction and recovery works. They also want to be in a position where they will be setting healthy boundaries so that they can have the greatest positive impact on the struggling addict. The family member may even realize, upon attending Al-anon meetings, that this is not very good timing to perform a formal intervention at all.

You see, there are various stages of denial when it comes to addiction and alcoholism. A person can be in outright denial in which they do not even acknowledge that there is the slightest problem. A person can also be in partial denial where the admit that they are probably addicted, but that there is no help for them at treatment centers. In other words, they admit to the problem but they remain in denial of the solution. And finally a person can get to a place known as “total and complete surrender” in which they agree to do whatever it takes, at the suggestion of others, in order to get the help that they need.

If the struggling addict is nowhere near this level of complete surrender then it does not make much sense to waste your time, energy, and resources to try to push them into rehab.

On the other hand they may be at a point in their addiction when the timing is perfect, such as right after a serious consequence has affected them as a result of their addiction. But remember it all depends on their level of denial, because they may be blaming the police officer that arrested them and trying to argue that none of this is their fault in any way, in which case they probably are not ready for treatment.

The goal of most any intervention is to convince a struggling addict or alcoholic to get professional help. That professional help is most often inpatient treatment at a 28 day rehab center. Another suggestion would be to call up various treatment centers in advance and find out what needs to happen for the addict to be admitted. That way you can form a plan when you go to pitch your intervention to the struggling addict, and possibly will even have something set up in advance.

One thing to also consider when organizing a formal intervention is the idea that it could completely backfire and isolate the addict even further and further away from the family. There is some risk involved in approaching the person in such a confrontational way. Now the experts who organize these interventions attempt to do so in a way that instructs the family to be loving and supportive, but the problem is that the actual intervention setup is very threatening. For a struggling addict to suddenly walk into a situation where so many people are confronting them all at once, no matter how soothing they try to make their voices sound, this will still be a very intimidating situation. So recognize that there is some risk involved when doing a full scale intervention on anyone.

Also, there is the theory that a full scale intervention is not necessary, because if the person needs that much convincing to go to treatment, then they are not really ready yet anyway. In other words, if an addict is truly at the point of surrender and they have a real chance at recovery, then all you need is a non-formal confrontation with a single family member to convince them to go to treatment.

That last idea is definitely debatable, as some people believe that having a full scale intervention with lots of support and loving family members can be the key that finally unlocks the willingness for an addict to want recovery. I am skeptical of this though and tend to believe that once a person has hit bottom and is truly ready for recovery then you won’t need to beg them to go to rehab, as they will be willing.

There is also the idea that at some point, a family has exhausted their options and tried everything else that they can think of, and nothing has worked. On top of this situation, the addict in question may be spiraling further and further out of control while facing heavier and heavier consequences. How long is it until the addict kills an innocent bystander while driving, or overdoses and dies? If those become real concerns and nothing else has worked, then the family may decide to throw caution to the wind. The risks of doing an intervention may no longer matter because the addict in question has become such a danger to themselves and others. At that point the family will just decide to organize a full intervention and do everything that they can to talk the person into rehab.

Making threats generally doesn’t work. Using an in-your-face, aggressive confrontational tone generally doesn’t work as well either. But you should be realistic and realize that many, many interventions fail even if they are expertly organized and executed flawlessly. The only thing that matters, in the end, is if the addict in question is at the point of surrender or not. If they are not then all of the intervention skill in the world is not going to be enough to bring the person into treatment. There is also the possibility that the intervention will “succeed” by convincing the person to attend rehab, but ultimately “fail” because the person may relapse after they leave treatment.

In either case it is important to remember that addiction recovery is a journey that can, at times, involve relapse as part of the story. But just because a person fails after rehab or they respond negatively to an intervention does not mean that all hope is lost. The truth is that sometimes we have to fall and skin our knee a thousand times over before we finally realize that there is a better way to do things. And it just may be the case that when you organize an intervention for your loved one that this is only the 999th try at recovery. Sometimes the miracle is right around the corner, and we just have to maintain hope and faith that things will work out in their own perfect time.