Drug addiction intervention is a process that helps an addict recognize the extent of their problem. A drug addict usually does not know they are out of control. They look at their drug-using peers and their own use appears normal in comparison. They need objective feedback on their behavior. Through a non-judgmental, non-critical, systematic process, the drug addict is confronted with the impact of their alcoholism or drug use on others. The goal of drug addiction intervention is for them to accept the reality of their drug addiction and to seek help. It was once thought that an alcoholic or other drug abuser had to "hit bottom" before help could be offered and accepted; that a drug addict could only get better if he was self-motivated to change. This has changed to the view that a skilled professional counselor can motivate an addict toward recovery.
Drug addiction interventions are difficult and delicate matters and it is important that they be done properly. No drug addiction intervention should be undertaken without advice and counsel of a professional experienced in the drug addiction intervention process. Furthermore, since people embarking on a drug addiction intervention often feel ambivalent and apprehensive, it is important that they trust the interventionist. Should you ever feel uneasy with your interventionist, that you are being asked to do something you do not understand or agree with, you would be wise to stop the process and go elsewhere.
Remember, drug addiction intervention is the most loving, powerful, and successful method yet for helping people accept help for their drug addictions.
Q) If an addict is unwilling to seek help, is there any way to get him into treatment?
A) This can be a challenging situation. An addict cannot be forced to get help except under certain circumstances, such as when a violent incident results in police being called or following a medical emergency. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to wait for a crisis to make an impact. Based on clinical experience, many treatment specialists recommend the following steps to help an addict accept treatment:
STEPS OF INTERVENTION
1. Stop all “rescue missions.” Family members often try to protect an addict from the results of his behavior by making excuses to others about his addiction problem and by getting him out of drug-related jams. It is important to stop all such rescue attempts immediately, so that the addict will fully experience the harmful effects of his use—and thereby become more motivated to stop.
2. Don’t enable him. Sometimes family members feel sorry for the addict or tend to avoid the addict, let him come and go as he pleases. This comes across to the addict as a reward—after all, all he wants is to be left alone. Be careful not to reward by paying his bills, bailing him out of jail, letting him stay for free, etc. This kind of reward creates out exchange and criminal behavior.
3. Time your intervention. If possible, plan to talk with the addict when he is straight, when all of you are in a calm frame of mind and when you can speak privately.
4. Be specific. Tell the family member that you are concerned about his addiction and want to be supportive in getting help. Back up your concern with examples of the ways in which his drug use has caused problems for you, including any recent incidents.
5. State the consequences. Tell the family member that until he gets help, you will carry out consequences—not to punish the addict, but to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the addiction. These may range from refusing to be with the person when they are under the influence, to having them move out of the house. Do NOT make any threats you are not prepared to carry out. The basic intention is to make the addict’s life more uncomfortable if he continues using drugs than it would be for him to get help.
6. Find strength in numbers with the help of family members, relatives and friends to confront the addict as a group but choose one person to be the initial spokesperson. It will be much more effective for the others to simply be there nodding their heads, than it would be for everyone to talk at once and “gang up on him.” Remember the idea is to make it safe for him to come clean and seek help.
7. Listen. If during your intervention the addict begins asking questions like; Where would I have to go? For how long? This is a sign that he is reaching for help. Do not directly answer these questions. Instead have him call in to talk to a professional. Support him. Don’t wait. Once you’ve gotten his agreement, get him admitted immediately. Therefore, you should have a bag packed for him, any travel arrangements made and prior acceptance into a program.