Before you consider an addiction intervention, let's look at the risks involvedYou may have seen the Addiction Intervention program on television. This program follows one addict and their family. The idea is to coach the whole family into being strong and breaking the patterns of enabling, while giving the addict a chance to go to a live-in rehab unit in order to be able to deal with their addiction. Sometimes this is successful and sometimes not.
You as a family may be able to do an addiction intervention within your family group, but everyone has to be in agreement as to what the outcome needs to be. Getting family members to agree is hard enough, but actually getting everyone to stick to a plan is extremely difficult. For example, if Grandma is going to continue to provide money to her Grandson in spite of anything the family may say, then this type of family intervention may not work. The addict will play off one person against another and use all kinds of threats to be able to continue their way of life.
Another problem can be the possibility of violence. The user may become very distraught and angry and cause considerable danger for all family members. You will have to assess the possible level of danger before taking this kind of action on your own. I learned the hard way that a user can become very violent. I urge you to stay safe. If you are in a situation where violence is already occurring, please read about domestic abuse and make plans to remove yourself and any children to a place of safety.
I cannot stress strongly enough that many families do not take the possibility of violence seriously.
If the user can be persuaded that they can make an effective change in their lifestyle, and if they are at a
point where THEY want to change, then using the system I teach on this website can be of great value.
Please understand though, that even though you may see the devastation caused by the drug use, the user may choose not to see what is going on. It usually takes some strong motivating force to get an addict to voluntarily give up their habit. A loss of some type, such as loss of relationship, loss of children, loss of job or even loss of freedom by being in jail is sometimes enough. Sadly though, many users are so into their drug lifestyle, that even drastic losses cannot keep them away from their drug of choice. Occasionally, they may give up one drug and substitute something else, either another drug or alcohol, in its place.
If the drug user is faced with a united front by you, the family, but they are unwilling to make any changes, you will have to decide what action to take independent of the user.
It may be helpful to download and print my Letter to an Addict. Go here to read it (PDF), or right-click to download it. If it is more appropriate, there is also my Letter for a Teenager.
You will need to consider in what specific ways the users actions hurt the family.
Is an addiction intervention possible?
Would it be safe?
Living with an addict can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining. Starting to take action may appear to make things worse. As I mentioned above, the addict will up the ante to maintain their lifestyle. You will need some strong support to help you through the coming weeks. You may want to consult a counselor who is knowledgeable about drug addiction and addiction intervention.
Whatever choices you make, be sure to stay alert for safety issues.
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This page updated 2013