When your loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s not easy to know when to step in, or how to best help them. You may get conflicting advice, and your attempts to confront them or give them assistance may be met with denial, anger or resistance.
Dealing with an addicted family member or spouse is one of the toughest things you’ll do, and it’s nearly impossible to do alone.
Why Outside Help Is Often Necessary
The person who is addicted is suffering from an illness that is powerful and not easily treated. It’s an illness of the brain, that affects the production of key neurochemicals and causes drastic changes in cognitive, reasoning and decision-making abilities. Substance abuse itself causes changes in mood and behavior, and the addiction is all-consuming. The addicted brain constructs elaborate defense mechanisms, with denial, justification and reasoning being the main forms. The person who is addicted will adamantly deny that they are an addict, even in the face of compelling evidence otherwise.
This alone makes trying to convince the addicted person that they need help difficult. Denial is a huge barrier. Even getting your loved one to admit there is a problem at all feels nearly impossible, let alone convincing them to go to rehab.
When you add family dynamics, and feelings of anger, frustration, fear and resentment into the mix, the outcome of such requests is often a huge fight, with the addicted person feeling defensive and shutting family and friends out.
For these reasons and many more, it’s helpful to seek outside help and intervention to assist families in dealing with their loved one’s addiction, and to get them the help that they need.
But How Do You Know When To Intervene?
This question keeps families from taking action. It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to step in. Part of you may hope that he or she will come around on their own. You may feel as though you are overstepping your bounds, especially if the person in question is an adult, or does not live in your home. You may fear that intervening will damage your relationship. You may even wonder if you are really overreacting.
One of a family’s biggest fears is that something horrible will happen to their loved one if they don’t get help. They may worry about incarceration, overdose or the family member losing everything — including custody of their children. These are real fears. Addiction can take everything from a person, including their life. With the stakes this high, taking action in the form of an intervention is a necessary step.
If you aren’t sure whether or not it’s time for an intervention, ask yourself the following questions to give yourself clarity. And remember, addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is using. Addiction creates a ripple effect that impacts everyone involved. This is especially true if there are children. In some cases, an intervention is called for when the person’s behavior has become so destructive that the family is in danger, or is on the verge of distancing themselves from the addict to avoid hurtful, destructive behavior. In this case, the intervention can be seen as an attempt to let the addict know in no uncertain terms that if something doesn’t change, more extreme measures will be taken. Sometimes, this will help the addict break through their denial enough to understand the consequences of their actions.
- Is your loved one’s addiction preventing him or her from being able to support themselves and their family?
- Are you or other family members feeling as though you are in danger as a result of the addict’s behavior or drug use?
- Is the addict bringing drugs, paraphernalia or unsafe people into the home?
- Is the addict stealing money or committing crimes in order to sustain their addiction?
- Are there children involved whose welfare is being impacted as a result of the addiction?
- Has the addict begun experiencing health problems as a result of their use?
- Is the addicted person displaying violent or erratic behavior?
- Are they in immediate danger?
- Are they having legal problems as a result of their using?
- Do you feel that you must remove the addicted person from the home, or cut off contact with them due to their using and behavior?
- Is the addicted person a minor?
- Do you feel like the problem needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets worse, and the consequences grow larger?
You don’t have to wait for things to get worse than they are. An intervention is a legal, reasonable and compassionate action to take to help the addict and the family.
How Do Interventions Work?
You can’t force a grown adult into rehab, and you can’t force anyone to change, or to stop using. Trying to do this is futile. However, many addicted people have become so hopeless, depressed and so far in denial that they can’t see the solution, even though everyone else can. Sometimes, the right push is what’s needed to turn things around. This is what an intervention is about. Professional interventions are effective. In fact, about 90% of interventions result in a breakthrough. While the results may vary, and progress may not be seen immediately, those are still impressive statistics. However, people often neglect this powerful resource.
It’s okay to step in and let your loved one know that it’s time to get help. It’s okay to get help from outside the family. And, it’s okay to get help for your family. You don’t have to go through this alone, an intervention can help.
Broadway Treatment Center Offers Intervention Services
Broadway Treatment Center is an award-winning addiction treatment program dedicated to helping people struggling with addiction, and their families. They offer comprehensive treatment programs and intervention services. Things can get better, and recovery is possible. Call 714-443-8218 to schedule a confidential consultation.