Interventions and the Stages of Change: Helping Someone Get Rid of an Addiction

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There is literally nothing you can do to help someone get rid of an addiction when that person doesn’t want help. It just doesn’t work. The first step towards recovery is (a difficult one) admitting there is a problem and accepting help. Until this part of the process has taken place, there is really no moving forward. What do you do when a loved one has substance abuse problems but isn’t willing to get addiction treatment, or even admit they need help? This article will offer some guidance with taking that first step towards arranging an intervention for an addict.

You may have already made multiple efforts to extend a hand and had no results. It’s frustrating when you’re willing to do anything to help a person, but they still won’t take it. Substance abuse and mental health treatment centers save lives, and rehab programs have a lot of experience helping people who are in situations exactly like that of your loved one. Still, admitting you have a problem and need the help of a drug and alcohol rehab is something all addicts struggle with.

If you’ve tried everything but don’t seem to be getting anywhere, it may be time to step in and try to move the process forward with an intervention.


What is an Intervention and Why is it Important?

The purpose of intervention for addiction is to provide encouragement and incentive for the person struggling to accept help. A successful intervention allows an addict’s loved ones to express their feelings constructively and will motivate the addict to admit they have a problem and seek help. Intervention done properly can save a person from falling into the pits of darkness and regain control of their lives.


An intervention is a carefully planned, structured conversation between loved ones and a person struggling with professional moderation. Intervention specialists are trained and experienced with intervention supervision and will ensure that the conversations stay constructive. The emotional nature of intervention creates a delicate situation that can easily turn into a physical altercation, or even pushing the addict even further away. Intervention specialists are trained in de-escalation to make sure the entire process stays constructive and rooted in helping – not attacking.

Recently, there has been a rise in the popularity of reality television shows following interventions and giving a false depiction of the process. These shows are popular because of the potential for drama that comes with confronting an addict. However, interventions should be conducted in a way to minimalize drama. A poorly planned intervention can make the situation worse — your loved one may feel attacked and isolated or even betrayed, they may become entirely resistant to the idea of getting treatment.

Approaching the problem the right way, at the right time, with the right people is a very effective way to help a loved one.


What Makes Interventions Effective?

Most alcohol and drug treatment facilities have counselors who are trained to assist families in preparing for the confrontation, which always takes place in a “controlled” environment that has been carefully selected to place the person in a position in which they are most likely to listen to what they are being told. These interventions are frequently carried out in the workplace, with the full cooperation of the employer.


However, newer techniques have been developed in which members of the intervention team inform the person suffering from addiction that they will be meeting with a counselor about their drinking or drug use several days before the intervention itself.


This process may be overseen and guided by an interventionist who has been hired by the family or group to help them through the process.


The following are examples of substance and behavioral addictions that may necessitate an intervention:


  • Consumption of alcoholic drinks
  • Prescription drug abuse 
  • Illicit drug use 
  • Obsessive-compulsive eating
  • Gambling addiction


What Are Signs That it is Time to Hold an Intervention?

Talking to your loved ones about their addiction may feel like something you’ve tried before. The approach requires patience and empathy, mainly because the addict is going through a roller coaster of emotions that you may not understand. There are a lot of negative feelings that come with admitting you have a problem. The nature of these emotions makes it challenging to have an open conversation.

Signs someone is struggling might include:

  • Secretive behavior
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Poor physical appearance
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Problems at work or school
  • The trouble with the law
  • Stealing and lying


When do Addicts and Alcoholics Need an Intervention?

There are several signs that will signal it’s time for you to request an intervention:

  • Your friend or family member refuses to admit their alcohol or drug use is an addiction
  • They do not acknowledge that their addiction is a problem
  • The individual won’t listen to well-intentioned friends, family, or mentors
  • They express anxiety or fear about rehab
  • He or she distance themselves from their loved ones to cover up their addiction
  • The addict exhibits self-destructive behavior as a result of their drug use

If your friend or a family member has any one of these signs, it may be time to schedule an intervention.


Stages of Change: How To stage an Intervention For an Addict

Form a dedicated intervention team

An important aspect of the intervention is having the right people involved. This usually consists of a small group (4 to 8 people) of friends, family members, or peers who have had felt a direct negative impact from the addict’s behaviors. It helps if the people involved are ones that the addict holds in high regard and loves.


Hire a professional interventionist

A professional in the addiction intervention field will be equipped with many useful skills for the process. Someone in the field may even be able to make preparations for the next step after the intervention. Having a spot in a drug and alcohol rehab ready, or a bed at a medical detox is really helpful since there is usually a very small window of opportunity when the addict is willing to accept help.


Rehearse what to say at the Intervention for an Addict

Each team member should describe a specific incident where the addiction caused problems, such as emotional, financial, or relationship issues. Discuss the toll of your loved one’s behavior while still expressing care and the expectation that he or she can change and step into a better life. You need to have a history of your loved one’s addiction. The information will help predict the addict’s response to the intervention and allow the intervention team to understand the situation better.

Some people may harbor negative feelings towards the addict as a result of something that happened. Rehearsing the intervention, in advance with the professional interventionist, will help to make sure all of the emotions and information comes across in a way that stays constructive towards the addict getting help.


Have a plan for moving Forward 

It is crucial for the people involved in the intervention to have a plan for what comes after the intervention. Following up with aftercare and progress helps the addict stay in treatment and avoid relapsing. You can offer to participate in support groups, counseling, and offer help with finding resources, or even just lend an ear to listen.

After an intervention, it’s important to visit a treatment facility offering a range of treatment options like medical detox, residential inpatient, support groups, and more.


Get help planning a successful intervention with our team of medical professionals at Opus Health. Call us at (949) 617-0905 to discuss a free health care treatment plan.

Let us assist you with taking the first steps to a better life.


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