What Happens After an Intervention?

Families planning to hold an intervention often spend a significant amount of time thinking about what will happen when the conversation starts. Will the person cry? Will the family members yell and get mad, rather than staying calm? Will younger members of the family feel comfortable with all of the emotional outbursts that are bound to take place?
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These are all reasonable questions, and they should be included in the planning the family does in order to prepare for the intervention. But families should also pay attention to the events that will unfold in the moments that follow an intervention conversation. The steps they take in these vital moments could push a person in need into a treatment program that could help, and families that plan may also be able to take a few steps that could help them to heal from the damage an addiction has done.

Time Is Important

An intervention conversation can be exhausting, and it’s reasonable for families to think about rest and relaxation when the talk is complete. These caring families might also be worried about the energy level and mental health of the person who has been the focus of the intervention. It can be tempting to allow the entire family to do something relaxing together, such as taking in a meal or just resting quietly in front of a quietly buzzing television.

Unfortunately, each moment of delay could mean disaster, in terms of addiction recovery. An intervention is designed to light a fire underneath a person who has an addiction, and that fire can quickly go out. People who walk out of an intervention without entering a treatment program might begin to wonder if they can handle their addictions on their own, without getting help. They might begin to bargain with their family members, using their charms to help persuade the family to allow the addiction to slide. They might also choose to hit up their dealers for one last bit of euphoria before they start getting care.

This sort of delay is associated with a relapse to very serious drug use. For example, in a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, of those who relapsed to cocaine addiction, 37 percent did so because they failed to enter treatment programs. These people didn’t get the help they needed, and their addictions continued to eat away at their health and happiness.

Just as soon as the intervention is complete and the person with the addiction agrees to get help, that person should be ushered into a treatment program for that addiction. Ideally, the person will be ready to go right away, as the family will have:

  • Chosen a treatment program
  • Completed intake paperwork with that facility
  • Packed a bag full of clothes the person can use on the trip
  • Developed a childcare, pet care and housekeeping plan

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The family should also handle any issues of cost long before the intervention takes place. In the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, of those people who needed help but did not get that help, 32.9 percent cited issues of cost as the primary barrier to their healing. Families who handle issues of payment, and who are prepared to sign the check at the end of the intervention, are in a good position to deal with this concern and get the person into treatment without any delay.

Transportation Issues

Handing the addicted person a packed bag and a check for care, and hoping that person will arrive at the treatment program with no problems, isn’t a great idea. People who have addictions often have an inability to make decisions that are good for them. Instead, they’ll almost always choose to value the addiction before they choose to support their long-term health. They might simply never be able to head to treatment without taking off for a hit of drugs first.

In addition, interventions can stir up a significant amount of emotional pain for people who have addictions.

Family Support

People might want to talk through some of their emotions and feel as though they’re in the company of people who will support them and understand them. Keeping in touch with these people in the hours that follow an intervention could be a very profound gift.

Some families choose to name one person who will accompany the addicted person on the journey to the treatment facility. This person might be able to lend emotional support, caring for the person and ensuring that no terrible decisions take hold in the moments that follow an intervention. But some families choose to hire a professional to make the trip. People with addictions sometimes need professional guidance in order to help with the recovery from an intervention, and they also need a professional who can work a little like a security guard, keeping tabs on the person at all times so no relapses take place. In some families, this role is best handled by a professional, rather than someone close to the addicted person. Families can sometimes be too tenderhearted and kind to perform the rigorous monitoring required.

Help For the Family

When the person leaves the intervention room in order to enroll in a treatment program, the family might breathe a sigh of relief. But they might choose to take a few steps to help them to heal. Just as the person with addiction needs help in order to recover from damage, the family has issues to work through, including:

  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Worry

In an article published in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, researchers suggest that families need to move through the same steps as people with addictions in order to heal. They need to understand the addiction process, and they need to develop the skills that can keep them from sliding back into bad habits.

Attending an Al-Anon meeting can help. These programs utilize a 12-step format, similar to the steps used in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and each meeting emphasizes that healing really is possible. Family members learn how their habits and opinions might lock an addiction into place, and they get support for the emotional turmoil they might face due to the addiction. Going to a meeting right after an intervention could be an excellent step on a family’s road to a healthy recovery.

Overcoming Resistance

While many families have a lot of celebrating to do when the intervention is through, there are some families that aren’t successful in their push to enroll a person in a treatment program. The person might not be ready to talk about recovery at all, or the person might have just one too many issues that seem to be standing in the way of a push to sobriety.

Some families choose to switch tactics when the original intervention doesn’t prompt a person to enter a treatment program, and they hold an intervention that follows the CRAFT model. Here, the family goes through a series of educational sessions, and they begin to gently push the addicted person to get care. The addicted person can come to all of the educational meetings, but even if the person does not, the family has the opportunity to learn more about the unhealthy habits that can keep an addiction alive. In time, the family changes, and those changes might make an addiction less rewarding and make recovery more likely.
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The CRAFT program has been proven remarkably effective in helping addicted people to see the need for change. For example, in a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, researchers found that a CRAFT intervention and aftercare helped to push 76.7 percent of recipients into treatment programs. This kind of success could really change everything for families of even the most resistant people.

Making It Happen

If you’d like to know more about how you can plan for an intervention for the person you love, please call us today. We have a number of experts who would love to work with you, and our admissions coordinators can connect you with one who will work best for you and your family. Call now.

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