Common Pitfalls People Make

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When planning an intervention, it can be tempting to use the interventions as an excuse to let loose and express rage and anger at the addict.

Family members may feel a surfacing urge to yell at the addict, or conversely hug them and tell them maybe if they just come home, one more time, they can fight this thing together. Unfortunately, the odds of recovering from addiction and/or alcoholism alone are slim. Both diseases require professional help, especially in terms of the detoxification from chemicals. Withdrawal symptoms can be fatal if not handled under medical supervision. Seizures, coma, delirium tremors (DT’s), and even death can occur as a result of untreated withdrawal effects – from cessation of drug and alcohol use. Thus, sending an chemically dependent family member to treatment is evermore crucial to the addict’s ability to stay abstinent on a long-term basis.

It is important not to go into the intervention without organized planning.

An effective and thoughtful intervention plan ensures that things run smoothly and do not go off-kilter into tangents and emotional rants. In other words, all family members should rehearse what they are going to say. Family members can organize where they will sit in the room so that on the day of the intervention there is no scrambling around at the last minute.

How and What to Prepare for an Intervention

Next, for a successful drug addiction intervention, family members should ensure that what they write about the way addiction has impacted their lives sticks to the topic. Unearthing historic wrongdoings and emotional resentments will only shift the intervention from its intended purpose of breaking through the addict’s denial and getting them to accept an offer for treatment.

An intervention will most likely fail, if family members remain unwilling to overlook the wreckage the addict has left in his or her tracks.

In many cases, money has been stolen, hearts have been broken, and promises have been left unfulfilled. However, approaching the intervention with anger and resentment will only breed contempt. The addict will take away what he or she wants to hear – anecdotes that will exacerbate the addict’s existing feelings of self-loathing – and leave the rest. Thus, it is recommended that family members and loved ones keep related anecdotes constructive and caring in nature.

One thing to avoid is being confrontational. Some interventionists use the term “carefrontation” to describe the suggested approach.

Family members are encouraged to use the word “I” rather than “you” when addressing issues related to the disease. Negative behaviors are framed in terms of the disease. Framing the negative behaviors as “you” and pointing fingers is not helpful or constructive. In addition, addicts and alcoholics are frequently struck with a beam of light through which the caring words resonate. They realize that their behaviors have negatively impacted the people they love the most. As a result, they will be likely to accept the offer for treatment. It also prepares the addict for the experience in treatment. Resident assistants, staffed clinicians and therapists, and other rehab program members will be adopting a similar approach to treating the client professionally. In other words, they will be educating the client in terms of the addictive brain versus the logical brain. Underlying emotional woes will be addressed. Perhaps the intervention serves as an example through which the addict will strive to emulate long past the commencement of the event.

Holding on to old-school notions is not helpful to the intervention. For example, some family members may have grown up as part of a generation that discredited alcoholism as a disease.

Perhaps people in the family hold onto dogmatic views that addiction is a moral failing or a matter of personal weakness. In order for the addict to feel loved, accepted, and supported, he or she must not pick up on vibes of the oldschool train of thought. In other words, let go of old, dogmatic concepts. Latch onto modern explanations of the disease which have scientifically and clinically proven that a substance abuse problem is accurately classified as a real disease.

What not to Forget at an Intervention

One last thing to remember – keep all family members and loved ones involved. If one parent bails, for example, because he or she fears that the event will be too traumatic to watch – the overall effectiveness of the situation will be lowered. The addict or alcoholic will hang on to the one aspect of the intervention that lacks sufficiency, rather than focusing on the big picture. It could throw a wrench in the entire process. Encourage all involved parties to participate in the intervention and join in the rehearsal of the intervention as well. This way there will be no “out” for which the addict can cling to when the final choices of treatment – or being cut out of the family system – are presented.


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