If anyone close to you has struggled with repetitive addiction behavior, you have probably already thought of an entire list of things you would like to say to that person about the addiction and the impact that addiction is having on the rest of the family. Hopefully, you and your friends, colleagues, or family members also want to find a way to share your thoughts without resorting to yelling, arguing, or causing further damage.
There’s a fine line between honesty and effectiveness when it comes to interventions. People often need to be quite careful to choose the right words and use them at the right time if they want to ensure that the person who needs care will be truly motivated to get help when the intervention is over.
These tips might help. By ensuring that these six phrases make it into intervention letters, and intervention conversations, families can ensure that their messages of love and support are heard loud and clear by the person who needs treatment.
1. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me.”
People who walk into an intervention often expect to hear words of blaming, shame, and guilt, and they may be on guard and ready to fight back at the first sign of attack. Families can diffuse this situation by using thankful or admiring phrases in their intervention messages.
By reminding the person that he/she is valuable, and that the contribution the person makes to the family is both important and respected, families can help the addicted person truly understand the need to accept treatment. Your loved one might be able to remember what the relationship was like before addictive drugs entered the picture, and he or she might be motivated to enter care as a result.
2. “I love you.”
Addictions can be isolating. Addiction often causes the addicted person to feel as though no one understands and no one really cares. In time, the addiction can seem like the person’s only friend and only source of joy. That isn’t true, of course, but an addiction can place a veil between that person and the truth.
Reminding your loved one of the tender feelings the family or friend group holds, and the close bonds that everyone once shared can help to break down that sense of isolation and help the person to understand that a different path is possible.
It can be tempting to vent your frustration or lose control of anger in an intervention. Many people have held on to anger about the addiction for years, but using words of love and support is a much more helpful way to reach the person who needs help. Counseling before the intervention can help you stay on track when the big day arrives.
3. “I am worried for our children.”
Addictions can be passed down genetically. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that about half of a person’s susceptibility to addiction depends on that person’s genes. Further, children who grow up in addicted families might also develop later problems with substance abuse as they might be subjected to:
- Confusing situation and messages
- Verbal abuse and parental fighting
Children might also watch their parents closely on a day-to-day basis and pattern their own behavior on the norms they see their parents following. For example, they may be tempted to lean on alcohol or drugs when days are difficult and they feel ill at ease. Addicted parents may be absorbed in their own patterns of abuse, but reminding these parents that their children could be at risk for similar problems down the line could be a good way to motivate them to change. Fortunately, many reputable rehab programs also offer family support and counseling.
4. “I will be here for you.”
People who participate in interventions may have their own stories of addiction and recovery to share. Partners and married couples often use substances together, but they can also get sober together. One newly sober partner or family member may be in an excellent position to discuss how treatment works and why it might be beneficial.
You don’t need to discuss your own addiction history at length (if you have one), but just allow the person you care about to comprehend that other people understand the process and will be willing to help when times are tough. Perhaps you will be willing to attend meetings with your loved one, or you may be able to listen whenever he or she needs to talk. Whether you are in recovery or not, you can help the person you are about to feel less isolated and perhaps a bit more willing to accept help.
5. “Addiction treatment works.”
Avoidance of treatment is one way in which addicted people might convince themselves that their addiction issues don’t need to be confronted. Addiction is a chronic disease that involves cycles of relapse and remission. Those who would demean the rehab process suggest that any possible relapses are a “failure” of treatment that only show that addictions can never truly be cured. If real healing can never take place, why should the person change?
The truth is that real healing does happen every day. Relapse is an issue that is addressed at length in most addiction treatment programs, but families can introduce the concept in their interventions. Families should research potential treatment options and ask those treatment providers for documented statistics of recovery. Families can even share stories from other people who have gone through treatment on their own, and who don’t regret that decision at all.
Sharing stories like this can help to break down denial and prepare your loved one for the work of treatment.
6. “Addiction is a physical disease, and you can get better.”
In the past, people were encouraged to believe that addictions were caused by a lack of willpower. People who had addictions were slapped with labels such as:
- “Worthless drunk”
- “Lazy drug user”
- “Weak willpower”
People who have addictions may hear these voices in their heads when they think about their addictions, and the depression these hateful words can cause can lead them into further drug use and abuse. However, the more experts learn about addiction, the more it becomes clear that addictions have very little to do with willpower.
Most drugs abuse causes such severe changes in the dopamine pathway in the brain that the brain scans of people who use drugs and those who do not use drugs look dramatically different. People who abuse drugs do physical damage to their bodies, and this damage makes them physically dependent on drugs.
They can’t just wish it away, as much as they might like to do so.
Consider Hiring a Professional Interventionist
Interventionists are best positioned to provide this information, all while helping families feel calm and healthy during this process. This trained expert can help the addicted person really understand how addictions work on a chemical level, and how those chemical changes are typically treated in an addiction recovery program.
The work of an experienced interventionist could provide smoother, more successful intervention. Also, people who understand that they have a medical problem that can be treated might be more apt to accept medical help in return.
Time to Get Started
It’s easy to see how an intervention could help those who are using and abusing drugs and alcohol. When they are confronted by their family members and told about the benefits of treatment, they might be persuaded to get the help they’ll need to leave their addictions behind and develop a more successful way of living.
An intervention could help a person you care about turn his or her life around. But, interventions can also be helpful for the family members of the addicted person. As you learn more about the illness that impacts the person you care about, you can increase your coping skills and reduce the stress and tension you feel, regardless of how your loved one does in treatment.
Preparing for an intervention is one way to learn more about addiction, and it’s a great way to get the whole family started on the road to wellness. You owe it to yourself to learn more. Call 760-548-4032 now.
1 NIDA. Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction. Feb 2016.