Crisis Intervention

If you know someone who is suffering from the ravages of addiction, you are probably familiar with the concept of a crisis.

Individuals who abuse drugs often have emergencies in their lives, ranging from overdoses to evictions as well as legal issues concerning them and their children. Crises, while exhausting and stress-inducing, can be great times to stage an intervention that might help your friend or loved one finally decide to get the help they need to survive.

Immediate Damage Control

Some crisis situations may involve danger to the drug addict or the people around them. For example, it is a crisis if your friend or loved one has been binging on drugs while they have physical custody of their children. Are the children being fed and bathed? Are they safe from harm? If not, the first step to this type of intervention is to make certain that the kids are all right.

Next, ask yourself if your friend or family member is safe. Do they have access to a vehicle? How many various drugs have they consumed, and in what amounts? Do they need to visit an emergency room? According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, there were at least 4.5 million emergency department visits in our nation’s hospitals in 2009 directly related to drug abuse.

If the individual in crisis needs to have emergency medical care, make this your first priority. You can discuss the ramifications of their actions just as easily in a hospital setting as you can in their own living room.

In addition to overdose possibilities, it is important to understand other factors that might cause a crisis. For instance, it is not uncommon for drug-addicted individuals to suffer from additional mood disorders, such as anxiety or major depression. When a person suffers from two mental conditions at the same time, they are said to have a Dual Diagnosis or co-morbid condition. If your friend or loved one suffers from major depression, for instance, he or she might be at risk of suicide.

It is important to look for signs of danger during a crisis intervention. These signs might include statements such as:

  • “I wish I were dead.”
  • “You’d be better off if I weren’t here/if I died.”
  • “I just feel so trapped.”
  • “I’ll show you/him/her/them.”

Extreme mood swings, excessive sleeping or insomnia, as well as increasing the use of the drugs or alcohol can also be signs that your loved one is struggling with this issue. Your crisis intervention might include removing firearms, drugs, alcohol or any items that might be used to harm themselves. If you have any doubts, you should contact emergency personnel and refuse to leave your loved one alone until they arrive. Your safety is of paramount concern as well, however, so be sure that you do not place yourself in imminent danger.

After the Immediate Crisis

A crisis intervention, in and of itself, need be no different than a planned intervention. The purpose of the intervention is to show your loved one how their drug addiction is negatively affecting their life, and the lives of everyone around them.

Your loved one has people that they love. Friends and family play a key role in convincing someone with an addiction disease to get help because, deep down, the addict does not want to hurt others they love. If possible, gather as many of these people as possible when you are going to stage the formal intervention.

If you need to stage the intervention immediately, you might contact your local mental health provider clinic to arrange for their on-call provider to give you assistance. The best idea, however, is to stage an intervention before a crisis situation develops so you can benefit from the assistance of a trained specialist.

What You Should Not Do During a Crisis Intervention

Emotions run high during a crisis. Sometimes, we say and do things that we might regret later. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that come from letting our emotions take over.

Do not engage in arguments

While some confrontation models call for accusations and humiliation, most of these techniques are no longer used. At least one intervention model, the Love First intervention approach designed by Jeff Jay and Debra Jay, calls for calm and rational communication using highly refined and perfected letters. If the subject of the intervention become irrational and begins to yell and fight the issues, the person who is reading their letter at the time will simply stop reading, allow the individual to rant, and when they have finished begin to read again.During a crisis intervention, you will probably not have a letter handy. You probably will not have time to read one, even if you had a well-thought-out letter ready to go anyway. However, the calm and rational approach, rather than engaging in an argument where you may say something you regret, can be effective.

Do not try to subdue a violent addict

Some drugs have powerful effects on the human body and brain. These drugs can increase human strength, make the user oblivious to pain from self-inflicted injuries as a result of their own violence, or build up over time to create anger management issues that cause them to react violently to simple, non-threatening situations. For instance:
  • Steroids affect the limbic system in the brain, which control our emotions. When this part of the brain system is not working correctly, we are more prone to agitation, aggression, mood swings and psychosis. The user may become paranoid and be unable to make rational decisions. This is not a good combination when someone approaches the individual about no longer using the drugs.
  • Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive stimulant has been known to cause violent behavior, paranoia and even hallucinations.
  • Ketamine is a “club drug,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While it is intended to increase the users “fun” experience, this particular substance can cause aggressive and violent behavior along with a severely distorted reality and convulsions.
  • PCP/phencyclidine is a drug that distorts perceptions on a grand scale. In order to achieve this state, the drug mimics symptoms of schizophrenia, including extreme anxiety, which can lead to violence.

Other Addictions That Can Benefit From a Crisis Intervention

eating disordersWhen we think of addiction, we often think of illicit drugs and alcohol. In fact, there are many conditions that can become addictive when they are left unchecked and unregulated. An addiction occurs when an individual is unable to curb a particular activity even though it is affecting their life in negative ways, such as financially or emotionally.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, gambling, for instance, can be a mental disorder if it becomes a compulsion.

Other types of compulsive addictions that can benefit from a crisis intervention might include:

  • Shopping
  • Internet/email
  • Pornography
  • Overeating
  • Anorexia/bulimia
  • Sex

Call for Help Before a Crisis Occurs

We’ve all heard the old saying, “The best defense is a good offense.” Why wait until your family is in a state of crisis before you seek help for your family member who is suffering from addiction? Instead, contact one of our trained professionals and discuss whether an intervention may be warranted in your situation.

There is help on the other side of addiction with drug treatment centers and programs that can help you and your family find a better tomorrow.

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