Using an addiction intervention specialist, when your loved one is plagued by addiction, is an excellent way to jumpstart recovery and avoid additional months - if not years - of delays stemming from excuses and manipulation by the addict.
Currently, I receive daily phone calls from parents, wives, and families, which are inquiring about an intervention for their loved one who is an alcoholic or drug addict. The first half of the conversation is usually them describing the extent of their loved one's addiction and the trouble it is bringing to the family. While the second half is typically questions and describing a successful intervention. It’s important to understand stand what intervention looks like, while also emphasizing the commitment it requires the family to make for their loved-one to achieve long term sobriety.
People are understandably concerned about the costs of an intervention and quality treatment experience, however, they are often more concerned about the amount of work and efforts required from them. Too frequently families believe they are buying a solution, rather than investing in a life-changing process.
Parents want their children to stop using drugs, but often see their kid’s addiction as an isolated problem and struggle to connect it to their own recovery. Because of this, getting some parents to an Al-anon meeting can be as difficult as getting their own child into treatment.
There are also misconceptions about how long treatments should be; many are not aware that it can run anywhere from thirty to ninety days of residential care. I advise clients to consider the beginning recovery process in similar terms to recovering from cancer or major surgery and allow one year, which is how long it takes the brain to recover from addiction.
A common manipulation is a pre-emptive strike whereby the child, regardless of age, threatens their parent with refusing to accept treatment and threatening suicide if the parents try to intervene. Threats of suicide should always be taken seriously, can be horrifying, but must be handled appropriately. With that said, it’s more common to hear this than not.
The addict’s goal is to turn the attention away from themselves and place it on the family. This is an attempt to guilt them for having an intervention and get out of having to spend more time in treatment. It’s similar to trying to get off on a technicality, despite the smoking gun and matching fingerprints.
Once a family retains me I start mapping out their family tree and placing the addicted individual in the center of this. I want to get a thorough understanding of the family system, and also have the opportunity to decide who should participate and who should be left out, because some members could be detrimental to the process. Unfortunately, at times some family members or other involved parties may not have the best interest of the addict in mind. This is followed by researching treatment options, which are based on insurance coverage, or the family's ability to pay out of pocket.
The intervention itself takes two days: the first day consists of a family meeting in which we go through several spiritual and emotional exercises, discussions, practice reading impact letters, discuss all of the possible objections, and what to do if the individual runs off or locks themself in an alternative room. Prior to the family meeting, I ask the participants to watch a documentary about codependency and addiction - this creates a good foundation for additional discussion points and questions.
The day is capped off by taking the core members of the intervention party, such as the addict's parents, spouse, and children, to an Al-anon meeting. I want them to be familiar with Al-anon and not be afraid to attend after the intervention.
The day of the intervention starts early with the intervention party convening at a single rally point usually by 7:00 am. Once everyone is in place, we caravan to the individual’s home. There are several reasons for meeting this early: I want to get to the individual prior to them starting drinking or using, we know their location, and the intervention, in some cases, can take up to a couple of hours. We must ensure there is the time allotted to get the individual packed and ready to travel for treatment.
An intervention party may convene at 7:00 am near the individual’s home in Dallas and not get wrapped up until 10:00 pm at a treatment center in New Jersey. There are a lot of logistics involved in running an intervention including unforeseen variables.
Everybody who is involved has a directive to immediately carry out once we arrive at the individual's home. I like to send two of the least threatening people in to wake up the addict, usually the kids or mom.
I remain standing in the center of the room and introduce myself when the individual enters. I ensure I notify the individual that I have heard a lot of really great things about them and how it is nice to finally meet in person. With that, I usher the individual to their space intentionally left for them.
The intervention is carried out in an orderly manner; we pause and wait in the event of an outburst or an emotional response. Once the intervention is successfully completed it’s my job to escort the individual to treatment and ensure their successful admission into rehab.
There is no reason an intervention should not be successful, so long as the involved parties are able to follow my instruction and refrain from being distracted by resentments that are irrelevant to the larger objective.
Successful interventions are the result of careful planning and coordination of all participants; investing in the process increases the chances of long term success. Getting an addicted individual treatment is only the beginning of a new way of life.
Marc Kantor is an interventionist based in South Florida and over fifteen years of sobriety; he can be reached at 202-390-2273 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.