Caring Conversations: When to Know It’s Time for an Addiction Intervention
Interventions are painful, emotionally charged events that test the limits of everyone involved. Whether the addiction is drugs, alcohol, gambling, or food, confronting someone with evidence of their addictive behavior is a volatile situation that can easily turn bad. When planning an intervention for an addict, timing is of the utmost importance as intervening too early will force your loved one further into isolation, and waiting too long could have dangerous consequences. Watching a loved one in the throes of an addiction is a heart-wrenching experience, and most people understandably want to intervene as soon as possible.
There are many things to consider before confronting your loved one, and this article gives advice on identifying the right time to stage an intervention.
What Effect Has Your Loved One’s Addiction Had on Their Life and Yours?
Interventions should only be used as a last resort when all other methods of solving the problem have failed. If your loved one has only recently begun to show signs of addiction, it may be better to have an informal chat with them to highlight their behavior rather than proceed with a full-scale intervention.
One of the main reasons to stage an intervention is to point out to an addict what effect their addiction has had on the lives of those around them, and to highlight any events in their own life that have been caused by their addiction such as losing their job, the breakup of a relationship, etc. If your loved one’s problem has not yet caused any negative effects, gathering a group of people to confront them will only make them feel victimized; so try initiating a gentle conversation instead.
Is Your Loved One In Denial?
According to addiction specialists, the first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem; so if your loved one is not ready to do this it may be time to plan an intervention. Another tell-tale sign is your loved one’s complete lack of care about problems they are causing in their own life such as putting their career in jeopardy, wasting large amounts of money, or hurting their spouse. Addicts lose the ability to control their actions when in the grip of addiction cravings, so if your loved one starts exhibiting erratic behavior, becomes withdrawn and distant, or behaves irrationally, they are probably in need of serious help. Make sure you have a plan of action concerning the help and assistance you are willing to offer them such as counseling, a stay at a retreat, or a biophysical detox program.
If you decide that an intervention is the best course of action, seek the guidance of a trained addiction specialist who can guide you through the process. Interventions that descend into accusations and arguments will only do more harm than good, and you may lose your only chance to bring your loved one back from the grip of addiction. Have a clear idea of exactly what everyone will say before confronting your loved one, and be ready to present them with examples of exactly what action each person will take if they refuse to seek help. Remember that the most important thing is to stay calm and level-headed throughout the process, and make it clear to your loved one that you are intervening out of love and concern for their well-being.
About the Author
Albert Stayton is a family counselor. He writes frequently to help people facing difficult family situations including divorce, addiction, and abuse.