Addiction is a cunning, powerful disease. It is characterized by a physical craving to the drugs of choice, a mental obsession, and a spiritual sickness. An addict has acquired a tolerance to the drug of choice, requiring increasingly high doses to feel the same effects. Psychologically, addicts report feeling:
- Drowning in despair
- Unable to control the compulsions to use drugs
- A preoccupation with the drug which trumps all other thoughts and actions
- Unlike their true self – their uncharacteristically aggressive and negative actions reflect the disease of addiction rather than the real person inside
- Suicidal in some cases
When a family member or loved one falls privy to an addiction, life can become very narrow. Family members and friends are directly impacted in a negative way. Thus, the disease of addiction is considered a family disease – nobody gets sick within the family in a vacuum. All family members adjust to the disease in unhealthy ways, creating a family system that is dysfunctional and enabling on behalf of the addict. This type of dysfunctional family system stems from unconditional love and an effort to be supportive – not malicious intentions or a desire to keep the addict sick. However, this is generally the way addiction plays out in families. Family members of the addict sit and watch helplessly as their beloved daughter herself further into a self-destructive pit of darkness. A young man who was once very close with his brother, watches as his flesh and blood crumbles in a puddle of self-loathing tears. Discontentment, agitation and fear trump all other feelings.
Thankfully, a drug intervention is a helpful tool which families can utilize to motivate the addict into seeking treatment for their addiction. Treatment from addiction is possible; addicts can go on to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Often the impetus to drive an addict to treatment involves an intervention.
The Amount of Effort Needed
Benefits of a drug intervention are correlated to the degree of effort and time family members invest in the process. One of the primary benefits of an intervention is the acquisition of knowledge. The interventionist will almost certainly suggest that family members and loved ones read as much about the disease as possible from qualified resources, often provided by the interventionist Through pre-planning and collaborating, family members delve into the disease of addiction. When a professional intervention is hosted, a professional interventionist is hired to assist in the process. Having an unbiased person present precludes the addict or alcoholic from falling into manipulative patterns with family members that could be destructive to the overall objective.
Barring the use of a professional interventionist, it is suggested that families speak to a drug and alcohol counselor or specialist prior to the intervention. Knowledge is power.
One of the themes of an intervention is self-love. Interventionists stress the importance of breaking codependent bonds. Herein lies the paradigm shift in familial relations — family members practice the art of taking care of themselves first and foremost. While many family members have been giving selflessly on behalf of the addict, putting the addict’s needs before theirs, they may actually have been coerced into codependent patterns. The intervention is a wake-up call for not only the addict, but family members as well. In planning for the intervention, family members learn that they cannot make significant progress with the addict if they do not take care of themselves first. An emphasis on self-care and self-love ensues. Family members adjust their behavioral patterns to include self-care, rather than putting themselves out on the line for the addict. The addict’s needs are secondary. A paradigm shift in family functioning does not occur overnight, and interventionists understand that it will take time for the adjustment to balance out to an equilibrium point.
Consequences of not Following Through
Consequences of refusing to go to a drug rehab center are listed before the intervention. Family members, and/or the interventionist, will read the list to the addict during the intervention. Essentially, it leaves very little room for the addict to refuse treatment. If they do, they will most likely face homelessness, zero financial support, and be emotionally “cut off” from family members. For instance, consequences of not accepting treatment may include the following statements made to the addict, and enforced beyond the scope of the intervention:
- We will not do not provide you with any money under any circumstances
- We will no longer bail you out of jail should you become incarcerated
- You are no longer allowed to sleep in the basement and come and go as you please
- You are not allowed to be around your adolescent brother or sister if and when you are using drugs or drinking
- If you do not seek treatment, we will take away your cell phone, your car, and everything else in which we have invested money
An intervention is beneficial to family members of the addict because it establishes boundaries. Healthy boundaries are key to healthy a healthy family system that functions in a balanced fashion. No longer are false promises accepted as viable options. The consequences of refusal to seek treatment are outlined in a concrete manner.