When A Loved One is Suffering

A family member or close friend has been acting strangely as of late. They’ve been missing work, flaking out of social gatherings, canceling plans, avoiding calls, and lying. They’ve been irritable and hostile, staying out late and lying about where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing. It’s affecting their schooling or their work, driving friends and loved ones away, isolating themselves or spending more time with people who are getting them into trouble. They’ve been stealing from you, lying to you, or taking advantage of your concern.

Sadly, this is all too common a story shared by far too many people and almost every single time, they all share a common cause. It’s difficult to watch a friend or family member suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, especially when you feel you can’t do anything about it. This feeling of helplessness is both frustrating and frightening at the same time. What do you do for somebody who is destroying themselves but refuses to listen when you try to tell them?

Intervention Can Save Lives

The answer is intervention. An intervention, properly planned, can be the turning point in an addict’s life and mean the difference between life and death. This is not an exaggeration, as an addiction is a progressive disease. This means that things will never get better on their own and the longer the disease goes untreated, the worse things will get, and most of the time this eventually leads to death. By taking action now, you can prevent this from happening, but you have to act.

Many times, family members are afraid that confronting the addict will only make the situation worse. Sometimes they don’t know what to do or say or maybe they’ve tried to talk to the addict already and it backfired. It’s not uncommon for addicts to become evasive or aggressive when confronted with the reality of their addiction. Often times they’re not even aware they have a problem and are oblivious to the damage their behavior is causing not only to themselves, but to everyone around them as well.

In the worst cases, the family has already tried an intervention and it failed. We see interventions on television sitcoms and try them at home because the core concept is fairly simple, but in reality, family members are often too close to the situation to remain objective and calm. Emotions rise and tempers flare, pleas become threats become ultimatums, and the whole thing rapidly spirals out of control, leaving the situation worse off than before.

Professional Help Makes All the Difference

Fortunately, there are trained professionals you can call upon to help you with your intervention. These individuals, called interventionists, are trained in the various methods of intervention and are often addicts in recovery themselves, so they know exactly what your loved one is going through. After all, there’s no better guide out of a maze than somebody who’s already found their way out. An interventionist can help you determine which method of intervention is best for the situation at hand and will then lead and guide the intervention, coaching the family and mediating the event. This helps everyone stay calm and steers the intervention in a positive, helpful direction so that family and friends can convey their message of love, concern, and support.

The Johnson Model of intervention largely focuses on the addict and the caregivers in their life, such as parents or spouses. More often than not, these caregivers do not establish clear boundaries with the addict and shield them from the consequences of their behavior, thus enabling their addiction. This model helps all parties involved understand their part and grow as a whole.

Another model of intervention is the Workplace Model. As indicated by it’s name, this method of intervention is utilized at the workplace when an employer may recognize the talent and skills of an employee outside of their substance abuse. Most of the time, an employer will agree to keep the employee’s position available to them until they complete treatment, allowing them to return to work once they are healthy enough to do so.

Many people will be familiar with the Systemic Model of intervention, as this is the method closest to what is seen in movies and on television. It is slightly different, however, as this model involves the entire family, not just the addict, helping them all develop healthy boundaries so as not to enable the addiction. This model, however, has backfired as often as it has helped, as it sometimes makes the addict feel singled out and attacked.

The Invitational Model takes a very different route and brings everyone, the addict, family, and the intervention team, to a 2-day workshop. By including everyone, nobody feels singled out of put on the defensive. At this workshop, everybody focuses on positive changes they could make in their lives, gently nudging the addict to put their attention towards their addiction more than anything else. At the end of the workshop, the addicted person tends to be more receptive to treatment and committed to getting clean because they came to the decision on their own.