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Family members and friends often experience a range of difficult emotions when they discover that a loved one is suffering from drug abuse or addiction problems. Not only do they experience fear and confusion regarding drug abuse and addiction problems themselves, but they may also experience confusion regarding why their loved one, who was apparently a happy, healthy individual, would choose to destroy their life for drugs. In cases where the drug abuser or addict himself refuses to admit that he has a problem or that he needs help, family members and friends begin to wonder what they can or should do. The answer is intervention.

About Drug Use

When drug use begins, it can be quite innocent. An individual may have encountered some challenge or difficulty in their life, and they feel that they cannot control or change it. Drugs appear to them to hold the solution to their problems, providing relief by hiding or suppressing the symptoms of these problems. What the individual fails to consider is that drug use, providing only temporary relief, will have to continue indefinitely in order to effectively hide their problems, and drug use can result in far more physical, mental and emotional problems than those they were trying to solve.

Drugs are chemical substances that interfere with the normal functions of the human body. In doing this, drugs are able to suppress undesirable sensations and stimulate desirable sensations, which is what drives the individual to continue using them. Over time, the individual’s body can grow to tolerate drug substances, which means he no longer experiences the same pleasurable effects of drug use. He may respond to this new problem by taking larger quantities of drug substances, or by switching to the use of more potent drug substances.

Eventually, the human body can grow to depend upon drug substances, and the individual no longer has any control over their drug use habits and patterns. They are driven by powerful cravings and the threat of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms to continue their drug use at all costs, even if it means stealing from, lying to or deceiving others. Without the use of drug substances, the individual can feel unwell physically, mentally and emotionally. Drugs may no longer yield the desirable effects they once did, but they help the individual feel normal enough to function through the day.

The Value of Intervention

An individual who is suffering from the problems of drug abuse or addiction will rarely admit these problems openly to others, in fact they may put a lot of effort into vehemently denying that they have drug problems or need help. The reasons for this may be varied – the individual may truly believe that drug use is helping them function normally, the individual may not actually see the full extent of damaging effects drug use has had on their life, the individual may be ashamed of the fact that they cannot take control of their life and end their drug problems on their own, or the individual may honestly believe that they cannot ever fully recover from drug use. Whatever the reasons for the individual’s denials, the simple fact is that they will need help and support from others in order to overcome their drug problems.

One of the myths regarding drug recovery is that the individual must hit rock bottom before they can receive help. But family members and friends who are waiting for their loved one to hit rock bottom before asking for help are playing with fire. An intervention can help the individual break through the cycle of denial and reach out for the help and support that is being offered them, without risking their life to continued drug use.

An intervention is a well-planned and organized confrontation of the drug abuser or addict by his family members and friends. The intervention seeks to help the individual recognize the connection between their drug use and the many problems it is causing in their life, and accept help. The key steps to a successful intervention include:

  • Drug education. In order to successfully help a loved one overcome their problems with drug abuse or addiction, family members and friends must first learn about drugs, addiction and what has to occur to lead to full recovery. This includes understanding how drugs affect the body, how drugs affect others around the individual, and how rehabilitation treatment can help an individual address and resolve all of the causes and effects of drug use and build the foundation for a better future. Once family members and friends understand what their loved one is struggling with, and how they cannot simply make the choice to abstain from further drug use, they are better able to support their loved one on the road to recovery.
  • Professional support. A professional drug interventionist is well-trained and experienced in holding a successful intervention. Where family members and friends may be affected by personal emotions related to their loved one’s drug abuse and addiction problems, a professional drug interventionist understands exactly what should be said and done to help the individual get the treatment they need.
  • Plan and rehearse. The intervention team needs to decide exactly what will be said, by whom, and in what order. This should include outlining exact, specific effects of the individual’s drug use that help the individual recognize the damages being caused. The intervention team should also determine what consequences will result from the individual’s continued drug use and refusal to get help, such as asking the individual to leave the family home, refusing to provide them with financial and other support and similar consequences. The individual must learn that their family members and friends are very willing to support and encourage them through rehabilitation treatment and recovery, but completely unwilling to tolerate their continued drug use.
  • Determine the intervention location and time. The location and time of the intervention can be nearly as important as the intervention meeting itself, as a location that makes the individual uncomfortable or a time that is inconvenient may result in complete failure. The intervention team should take the time to find a location that will not be threatening to the individual, and select a time for the meeting that will allow them to remain for the entire duration.
  • Invite the individual. The individual should be invited to the intervention meeting, without being told the purpose of the meeting. The drive to continue using drug substances is so very strong that an individual who is aware of an upcoming intervention may do anything to avoid it.
  • Hold the meeting as planned and rehearsed. The intervention meeting itself should proceed exactly as rehearsed, even if the individual does everything he can to try and derail it. If ever in doubt about how to proceed, the intervention team should defer to the professional interventionist.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, ninety percent of all interventions that are performed by trained and experienced professionals result in the individual’s agreement to get help for their drug abuse or addiction problems. It may be true that interventions can be very well-planned and carried out but result in the individual walking away and refusing to get help. However, some of these individuals may then experience consequences as a result of their continued drug use and then reach out for help from those who staged their intervention. Family members will do well to remain firm and persistent in their desire to help a loved one overcome their drug addiction problems, as their efforts will be well rewarded.