‘Tis the season for an intervention?
The upcoming holiday season can be particularly stressful if you’ll be spending time with a loved one addicted to alcohol or other drugs. You might feel conflicted about family celebrations; holiday gatherings are supposed to be happy times, but yours don’t look like what you see on television.
Should you ignore your loved one’s addiction and try to enjoy the season or should you act?
Confronting a loved one’s addiction, called an intervention, is the best gift you could give him or her — and yourself — and is a chance for the entire family to heal.
Formal interventions are processes led by experienced professionals through which family and friends confront an addicted person in a loving and nonjudgmental way. The interventionist meets with participants beforehand to explore how addiction has affected their lives and to plan what each will say to his or her chemically dependent loved one.
The goal of any intervention is for the addicted person to agree to and immediately depart for treatment; usually an inpatient rehabilitation program.
The interventionist will make arrangements with insurance companies and rehabs in advance so that the addicted person who agrees to treatment has no chance to change his or her mind.
One crucial aspect of the intervention process is deciding on consequences for your loved one if he or she refuses treatment.
These are personal to each participant, and can range from refusing to provide transportation or money to completely severing the relationship.
It is very important to offer only those consequences you are sure you can follow through with; nothing encourages an addicted person to stay sick like empty threats and continued enabling.
It is also important to understand that whatever the result of the intervention, success can often be measured by the improved communication among family members and friends. Confronting addiction head-on eases the shame and secrecy surrounding the disease, and opens the door to change for months and years to come.
As difficult as it might be to picture your family member in treatment during the holiday season, you’ll be comforted by the knowledge that you’ve done everything in your power to save your loved one’s life, no matter what the outcome.