Approaching a loved one that you suspect has a drug problem is a difficult and delicate situation, especially when you want to convince them that they need rehabilitation. Many substance abusers don’t actually think that they have a problem, and being told that they do may make them angry or belligerent.
The important thing to remember is to stay calm and loving during this challenging time because approaching an addict with nervousness or anger will only make matters worse. If you want to set up a group intervention or a one-on-one discussion there are several things you should know.
1. Do Some Research
Before you confront an addict it is important to do a little research. Try to find out why addictions can occur and think about how your loved one may have been affected by these potential causes. Establishing a level of understanding that will allow you to approach him or her with compassion instead of thinking about how their addiction has affected you.
Another reason that research is important is because addictions can be different depending on what substance is being abused. Different drugs can affect moods and behaviors in unique ways, and knowing which ones may be influencing your loved one’s thoughts and actions may shape your approach.
2. Plan Ahead
Take some time to plan out your intervention ahead of time. If you are going to have an intervention, meet with everyone without the addicted friend present. Have everyone discuss the issues that they would like to address. It is vital that everyone is united and on the same page.
Make sure you know exactly who will be there. It is generally suggested to keep the group small and limited to about 6 people or less and keep children away. Before you discuss issues make sure that everyone agrees to keep what is revealed confidential out of courtesy to one another and to the person you are discussing. Here are some other things to do in the planning stage:
- Make a note of everything everyone is going to say and avoid both repetition and contradiction.
- Choose a speaker to lead the conversation so that you can avoid talking at the same time and making the person feel overwhelmed or ganged up on.
- Think about how you address smokescreens, belligerence, or denial.
- If anyone seems to be approaching this with anger or without an appropriate attitude, ask them to sit out.
3. Consult a Professional
For added guidance it might be helpful to consult with a professional addiction counselor or therapist. Ambrosia Treatment Centers in Palm Beach have family programs that offer help and support to the loved ones of addicts, and they also offer a free 24-hour addiction hotline that concerned friends and family can take advantage of.
After you have prepared for the intervention discuss all of your talking points with the counselor and ask for feedback. You may even find it helpful to rehearse in front of the counselor to ensure that you don’t make the person feel belittled or overwhelmed during the real thing. The balance between being firmly adamant and gently caring can be hard to achieve, and a counselor may help you get there.
When you are ready for the real intervention set it up and remain calm, friendly but resolute in your stance against the substance abuse. Here are some tips that will help you navigate the issues carefully:
- Focus on the issue rather than the person. Make sure they know it is the problem that is bad not them.
- Use “I” statements rather than the more accusatory “you” statements. For instance say, “I am worried by your drinking” rather than “You worry me with your drinking.” This will help you avoid putting the person in a defensive stance.
- Avoid labeling them with charged words like addict or alcoholic. They may not consider themselves in these categories and that doesn’t matter as long as they realize that it is a problem.
- Present a list of the negative outcomes of the substance abuse like the loss of health, jobs and relationships.
- Inform of any appropriate consequential actions that you will take if destructive behavior continues and follow through with actions.
5. Plan for After
Before the intervention begins you should make plans for treatment at a trusted rehab center. An addict’s moods and thoughts can change quickly. Even if they agree to treatment in the intervention they may quickly change their mind if you fail to follow through.
Remember to be supportive and caring as well as firm. Find the balance between compassion and tough love that will get your loved one through this trying time.
Photo Credit By: drugaddiction.org