INTERVENTION: REMOVING THE {ROADBLOCKS} TO RECOVERY

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1 INTERVENTION: REMOVING THE {ROADBLOCKS} TO RECOVERY

2 TABLE OF {CONTENTS} HOW A TYPICAL INTERVENTION WORKS 4 GETTING EDUCATED ABOUT INTERVENTIONS 6 PROFESSIONAL VS. DIY INTERVENTION 7 FORMING THE INTERVENTION TEAM: DOS & DON'TS 8 DECIDING WHAT TO SAY: DOS & DON'TS 9 CHOOSING A CONSEQUENCE 12 CHOOSING A TREATMENT PROGRAM: DOS & DON'TS 13 HOLDING THE INTERVENTION: DOS & DON'TS 15 IF YOUR LOVED ONE REFUSES TREATMENT 18 IF YOUR LOVED ONE ENTERS TREATMENT 20 INTERVENTION IS ONLY THE BEGINNING 21 2

3 Denial is a funny thing. Even though you can clearly see that your loved one has a serious drug or alcohol problem that s affecting his life in myriad negative ways, that s not how he sees it at all. He insists he doesn t have a problem, and he may even try to turn the tables and make it seem like you re the one who needs help. Mayo Clinic points out that denial is a psychological mechanism designed to help us cope with conflict or protect us from something that makes us feel vulnerable or out of control in some way. 1 In some cases, denial is a healthy response to a situation, buying time until you re ready to cope with the reality, such as in the case of trauma. But when it comes to an illness like addiction, which is chronic and progressive, denial typically leads to a worsening of the disease. THE END GOAL OF AN INTERVENTION IS TO HELP YOUR LOVED ONE OUT OF DENIAL AND INTO TREATMENT. So what can you do to help a loved one who is in denial about a drug or alcohol addiction? After all, seeking treatment first requires someone with an addiction to admit that he has a problem. In many cases, experts recommend an intervention, which is a planned meeting during which concerned individuals lovingly confront a loved one who has an addiction. The end goal of an intervention is to help your loved one out of denial and into treatment. 3

4 HOW A TYPICAL INTERVENTION WORKS The Johnson Model is the most commonly used type of intervention. A study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that those who underwent this type of intervention were more likely to agree to treatment than those who underwent one of four other common types of intervention. 2 A Johnson Model intervention involves several clearly defined steps once the intervention team has been formed. GET {EDUCATED} The bulk of the intervention process involves the intervention team becoming educated about how addiction develops, how it affects thought and behavior, how loved ones often enable it without realizing it, how treatment helps people overcome an addiction and the importance of family support during treatment and recovery. The better educated you are about your loved one s disease, the better equipped you will be to help her choose to seek treatment. DECIDE WHAT TO {SAY} Each person on the intervention team will speak directly to your loved one about how her addiction has affected them. Writing a carefully crafted letter and then reading it aloud is usually the best way to do this. The more specific the details, the better, but the overall tone should be positive and hopeful, conveying love and concern. 4

5 DECIDE ON {CONSEQUENCES} Each person on the intervention team will decide what action he or she will take if your loved one declines to seek treatment. These consequences will be outlined during the meeting so that your loved one knows what to expect should she refuse treatment. The consequences aren t meant to be punitive, but rather to help your loved one experience the natural consequences of her addiction. CHOOSE A {TREATMENT PROGRAM} Before the meeting, you ll choose a treatment program for your loved one and make arrangements for an admissions appointment, which should ideally take place as soon as the intervention meeting concludes. HOLDING THE {INTERVENTION} The intervention meeting is the culmination of several weeks of learning, planning, researching and rehearsing. It s standard practice with the Johnson Model to invite your loved one to the meeting on a pretense so that she doesn t know until she arrives that the meeting is an intervention. 5

6 GETTING {EDUCATED} ABOUT INTERVENTIONS The intervention meeting is the culmination of several weeks of learning, planning, researching and rehearsing. Ideally, you ll have a professional interventionist or other experienced professional on hand to facilitate the meeting. The interventionist will work to keep things productive and positive, prevent the meeting from going on too long and help lead your loved one to make the decision to seek treatment. Once your loved one agrees to treatment, the meeting is over, even if not everyone has had the opportunity to speak. 6

7 PROFESSIONAL VS. DIY INTERVENTION While an intervention can be designed and executed without the help of a professional, it s less likely that a DIY intervention will lead to treatment. Addiction experts highly recommend getting professional help from an addiction counselor, social worker, mental health professional or professional interventionist. Interventions that are planned and executed with the help of a professional have a 90 percent success rate in getting a loved one to accept treatment. 3 Interventions that are planned and executed with the help of a professional have a 90 percent success rate in getting a loved one to accept treatment. Keep in mind that interventions aren t right for every family or for every situation. In some cases, an intervention can make things worse. Involving a professional from the start will help ensure you re doing the right thing, and if the professional recommends against a formal Johnson intervention in your case, they will be able to offer more appropriate alternatives. 7

8 FORMING THE INTERVENTION TEAM: DOS & DON'TS Choosing the intervention team carefully is paramount to success. The intervention team may include concerned friends, family members, mentors, teachers, colleagues or clergy members. Do: Limit the size of the team to between four and six people. Choose people your loved one respects, trusts and admires. Choose people who deeply care for your loved one. Don't: Involve anyone whom your loved one dislikes or distrusts. Involve anyone who has their own drug or alcohol problem. Involve anyone who might become angry, hostile or argumentative during the meeting. 8

9 DECIDING WHAT TO {SAY}: DOS & DON'TS The more thoughtfully you plan what you re going to say and the better prepared you are to speak to your loved one during the intervention, the better the odds are for success. Whether you re going to read a letter to your loved one or speak directly to him from the heart, it s essential to write down what you want to say ahead of time. 9

10 Do: Start by expressing love, concern and hope. Let your loved one know that you understand that willpower and good intentions alone aren t enough to overcome an addiction. Give specific examples of how his addiction has personally affected you, such as, When you became argumentative with me in front of my family after you drank too much, I was humiliated and embarrassed. Keep it short and concise. End by asking your loved one to seek help today, and outline what the consequences will be if he refuses treatment. Share your letter with the interventionist and other members of the intervention team ahead of time, and make any necessary changes before the meeting. 10

11 Don't: Wing it. Having everything you want to say carefully planned out will help prevent anger flare-ups, ensure you say everything you want to say and prevent rambling or ranting. Take an accusatory tone. Keep the tone neutral and matter-of-fact. Say anything that may not be true or that your loved one may have reason to refute. Keep it personal. Your loved one won t be able to argue as easily with firsthand accounts of events or the ways in which you are affected by the addiction. 11

12 CHOOSING A {CONSEQUENCE} The consequence you choose will ideally help convince your loved one to seek treatment, either during the intervention or afterwards, when the consequences are put into action. Do: Choose a consequence that you re fully prepared to follow through with. Following through will be critical for helping your loved one choose treatment later on. Make the consequence natural. For example, if you help your loved one pay her rent because she calls in sick to work too often or spends her money on drugs, refusing to give her financial support is a natural consequence of the addiction. Talk to the team and the interventionist about your consequence to help you evaluate whether it s natural and realistic. 12

13 CHOOSING A {TREATMENT PROGRAM}: DOS & DON'TS Choosing the right treatment program is essential for helping to ensure successful recovery. Part of a professional interventionist s job is to help you find an appropriate program and guide you through the process of setting up an admissions appointment. 13

14 Do: Choose a treatment center that s aligned with your loved one s philosophy. For example, if he s atheist, choose a program that s not religion-based. If he s vegan, make sure the treatment center offers appropriate menu options. If he loves the outdoors, choose a program that includes adventure therapy or offers outdoor activities. Choose a program that utilizes research-based therapies and adheres to the National Institute on Drug Abuse s Principles of Effective Treatment. 4 Choose a holistic program that uses both traditional and alternative therapies that address issues of the mind, body and spirit. Find out whether the center has a waiting list and whether it takes your loved one s insurance. Choose a dual diagnosis program if your loved one suffers from a mental illness as well as an addiction. Enlist the help of your interventionist or other addiction or mental health professional to help you evaluate whether a particular program is suitable for your loved one s condition and needs. Don't: Choose a program that makes promises that sound too good to be true. Choose a program that uses questionable treatments or methods that sound harmful. 14

15 HOLDING THE {INTERVENTION}: DOS & DON'TS You ve worked hard to get to intervention day. Weeks of preparation have led to this moment, and it is how you handle every glance, every emotion, every confrontation that will make or break your plan. You ll want to do everything in your power to ensure that it goes smoothly, and the only way to do that is to know what to expect and prepare for it. 15

16 Do: Meet with the full team at least once before the intervention to give everyone the opportunity to rehearse what they re going to say and to go over the fine details of the meeting. Prepare yourself emotionally before the meeting. Mayo Clinic recommends preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. 5 Understand that an intervention can be highly emotionally charged, and it can quickly devolve into conflict and chaos if team members allow it to. Be prepared to address your loved one s objections, excuses or accusations calmly. Visualize ahead of time what she might say, and plan your response accordingly. Avoid confrontation by remaining respectful and supportive, no matter what your loved one says or does. Stay on track. Don t stray from your planned speech, which can quickly derail the intervention. Ask for an immediate decision regarding entering treatment. Giving your loved one time to think about it enables her to revert back to denial, go on a binge or take steps to avoid you and other members of the treatment team. 16

17 Don't: Hold the intervention during a time when your loved one is likely to be under the influence. Let the meeting go on too long. Your interventionist will help keep things running smoothly, but it will be up to each team member to say their piece and then let it rest and resonate. The entire intervention meeting shouldn t exceed an hour and a half. Allow yourself to get involved in an argument with your loved one or to be put on the defensive. Sometimes your loved one s accusations and anger are meant to derail the conversation, and they may give her fuel for continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol. Planning ahead and being prepared for these reactions will help you remain calm during highly charged moments. Allow your anger, frustration or resentments to surface. These only give your loved one more leverage for refusing to seek treatment. 17

18 IF YOUR LOVED ONE {REFUSES} TREATMENT In some cases, not even an intervention will be enough to get through to a loved one who is resistant to treatment or who remains in denial that there s a problem. But even if your loved one doesn t end up in treatment, the intervention shouldn t be deemed a failure. You re probably far more educated than you were before concerning addiction, your own enabling behaviors, how treatment works and the importance of family support for successful recovery. Additionally, it s been made clear to your loved one that you understand his addiction, that you love him and want what s best for him and that you re willing to help him get the help he needs to recover. It's been made clear to your loved one that you understand his addiction, that you love him and want what's best for him and that you're willing to help him get the help he needs to recover. 18

19 In the meantime, it s imperative that you continue getting help with overcoming the negative effects of your loved one s addiction. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence makes it clear that addiction is a family disease. It affects the dynamics of the family system, leading to dysfunction, enablement and codependency. It also increases the risk that affected children will engage in substance abuse later on. 6 You and other loved ones should join a support group to help you learn how to begin restoring function to the household and to identify and curb your own unhealthy behaviors. Individual and family therapy can also help you overcome the negative effects of addiction and more effectively support your loved one as he struggles with admitting he has a problem or grapples with the idea of getting professional help. 19

20 IF YOUR LOVED ONE {ENTERS} TREATMENT Entering treatment is the first of many challenging steps for your loved one, and family support is crucial for her successful recovery. 7 Engaging in family therapy during rehab will likely be part of the treatment protocol, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of treatment by meeting the needs of all family members and promoting healthier patterns of communication and behavior. In addition to engaging in family therapy, joining a support group will offer you a place to voice your fear, anger, frustration and other negative emotions and help you determine the best way to support your loved one s recovery during treatment and beyond. Individual therapy for each affected family member will help restore function to the family system and curb destructive behaviors that can reduce the effectiveness of treatment and contribute to relapse. 20

21 INTERVENTION IS ONLY {THE BEGINNING} Whether or not an intervention ends with your loved one seeking treatment, it s a solid first step in facing her addiction head-on with honesty, love and good intentions. By taking this step and continuing to educate yourself and get support, you can rest assured knowing you re doing everything you can to help her. Whether or not an intervention ends with your loved one seeking treatment, it's a solid first step in facing her addiction head-on with honesty, love and good intentions. Hope is the foundation of recovery, and this is perhaps the most important thing to remember during the intervention planning process and beyond. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that a person s recovery is built on her strengths, coping skills, inherent values and resources. 8 21

22 Recovery is a lifelong process of continual growth and improvement, and as a process, it involves setbacks and challenges. These must be met with resilience and optimism by the addicted individual and her support system in order to prevent them from marking the end of recovery. From the moment you choose to hold an intervention, choose also to hold on to your hope that your loved one will recover, regardless of the intervention s outcome. Let her know that you believe she can overcome her addiction, and remind her that it can be done, and it has been done. Let her know you won t give up on her, no matter what. These powerful sentiments will foster hope in her own heart for a better future and a higher quality of life, sooner or later. 22

23 References Denial: When it Helps, When it Hurts. (2014, May). Retrieved from healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/denial/art ?pg=1 A Comparison of the Johnson Intervention with Four Other Methods of Referral to Outpatient Treatment. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 22(2), Loneck, B., Garrett, A., & Banks, S. M. (1996, May). Retrieved from Intervention: Tips and Guidelines. (2015, July 25). Retrieved from Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. (2012, December). Retrieved from Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction. (2014, September 26). Retrieved from Family Disease. (2015, July). Retrieved from family-disease Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Retrieved from books/nbk64269/ Recovery and Recovery Support. (2015, October 5). Retrieved from 23

24 Get Professional and Compassionate Help for a Prescription Drug Addiction at Ascend Recovery If you or a loved one is struggling to break an addiction to prescription drugs, we at Ascend Recovery sincerely want to help you change the direction your life is heading by providing you with the tools necessary to defeat an addiction. With our caring and patient assistance, you or a loved one suffering from prescription drug abuse will come to understand why addictions happen and how you can successfully take control of your life by learning how to manage and cope with powerful emotions that often trigger the urge to use prescription drugs. Contact Ascend Recovery today to begin the most important journey of your life--the journey towards a sober, healthy and rewarding life. YOU CAN CALL US 24/7 1 (844)

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