How to Help A Loved One
When is a Professional Intervention Necessary?

Your loved one has been struggling with an addictive disorder for quite some time. Despite your best efforts, they refuse to seek the professional help they (so clearly) need. They continue to waste away before your eyes, eventually becoming vacant shells of their former selves. You set ultimatums, beg and plead; even threaten to take drastic measures like kick them out of your house or file for divorce. Still, nothing seems to make a difference. If you feel you have run out of options, staging an intervention is usually a good idea. At The Plymouth House we work directly with several experienced interventionists who are willing to travel anywhere in the U.S. to help a family in need. We understand how heart-wrenching it can be to watch someone you love struggle with a substance abuse disorder, especially when you feel you have already done everything in your power to help. Rest assured that even when you feel you’re at the very end of your rope, there is another action you can take that might give your loved one the boost they need to finally agree to treatment. For more information on staging an intervention or to be put in touch with one of the interventionists we work with, contact us today.

How Do I Know an Intervention is Necessary?

How can you tell when a professionally staged intervention has become a necessity? A good rule of thumb is that an intervention has become necessary if a substance use disorder has progressed and your loved one is engaging in behaviors that could put them or others into harm’s way. For example, if your loved one repeatedly drives while intoxicated with children in the car, or if your loved one has recently experienced a life-threatening overdose and continues to use drugs anyways.

Hitting Rock Bottom

If you have been dealing with an addicted loved one for an extended period of time you might have heard someone say, “You need to let them hit their bottom.” The term “rock bottom” refers to a low point in someone’s life that might motivate them toward change. According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health, the term “rock bottom” was first coined in a 1965 paper on the treatment of alcohol addiction. Research on the subject has determined that hitting a personal “bottom” does often help prompt change. Once enough consequences accumulate an addict or alcoholic sometimes makes the decision to seek professional help on their own accord.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that addiction is a chronic condition, and it is one often marked by severe and unwavering denial. Waiting for “rock bottom” can be a very scary prospect, especially if your loved one is in danger of a life-threatening overdose and they refuse to acknowledge the existence of a problem. At The Plymouth House we believe intervention can be an effective tool in helping an individual seek treatment sooner than they naturally would left purely to their own devices. While it is critical that an individual eventually develops a willingness to be sober, many individuals don’t necessarily enter treatment with a spirit of 100% willingness. Sometimes an individual needs to gain some time physically sober, their mind cleared and cravings reduced, before they can see their situation clearly. Once they do, willingness can develop in the process of undergoing treatment.

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Other Indications an Intervention is Necessary

  • Your loved one has been told to discontinue substance use by a medical professional – If sobriety is not maintained, there is a serious risk of permanent health-related consequences. Still, they continue to use uncontrollably despite these warnings.
  • Your loved one is in clear denial about the severity of the issue at hand – Once the brain adapts to the presence of the chemical substance, use becomes compulsive and uncontrollable. Despite the fact that the issue is apparent to the rest of the outside world your loved one might be in denial and refuse to take an honest look at rapidly accumulating consequences. Staging an intervention sometimes provides a much-needed dose of reality.
  • Your loved one refuses to acknowledge how their addictive disorder is impacting others – One of the fundamental parts of an intervention involves illuminating how the addiction is harming the mental and emotional well-being of others. People who are in the throes of their addiction are often self-centered and oblivious. They might say things like, “It isn’t hurting you, so why don’t you mind your own business?” Or, “You live your life and let me live mine.” It can be beneficial for the addict or alcoholic to gain clarity about how their actions are affecting others.
  • Your loved one is liable to suffer an irreversible consequence if they continue using drugs or drinking – Maybe they have started to engage in illegal activities in order to support a drug habit, and long-term incarceration is looming on the horizon. Maybe they have already overdosed as a result of intravenous heroin use, and continue to use despite this fact. If substance use is completely out of control, staging an intervention is a very good idea.

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Breaking Through Denial

At The Plymouth House we work closely with people who have been struggling with a mild, moderate or severe substance abuse disorder. We understand that once an addiction progresses to the moderate or severe stage, it can be nearly impossible for a person to make healthy, rational decisions. We also understand that watching a loved one waste away at the hands of addiction can be excruciating. The good news is, we are available to help. Contact us today to be put in touch with a trained and experienced interventionist.

How to stage an intervention

What Does an Intervention Look Like?

When staging a professional intervention, take the following steps:

  • Educate yourself on the disease model of addiction – Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease, and understanding how it develops and how it can be treated will help you come from a place of understanding and compassion rather than anger and resentment.
  • Get in touch with an experienced interventionist – It is very important to avoid staging an intervention without professional guidance and support. A professional interventionist knows exactly which steps to take in order to avoid accidentally pushing your loved one farther away. Contact The Plymouth House to get connected with an interventionist in your area. We can connect you in a matter of minutes so you can get the ball rolling as quickly as possible.
  • Decide on a group of close friends and family members who are going to be present at the event – The interventionist is going to help you decide who should be there. It is important to only include people who have been directly impacted by the addictive disorder. Keep the group small and intimate so as to not overwhelm your loved one.

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  • Write letters to your addicted loved one – Everyone in the intervention group who is planning on being present at the event will write a letter explaining the impact that the addiction has had on their emotional and mental well-being, stating specific examples. These letters are going to be read aloud at the event with the intent of encouraging your loved one to go to treatment.
  • Develop a plan of action should your loved one agree to enter into treatment – The interventionist is going to help you find a treatment center and a detox center if necessary, and help you arrange plans for transportation to the facility that very same day.
  • Develop a list of consequences and stick to your guns – Setting and maintaining personal boundaries is going to encourage your loved one to seek treatment more quickly.
  • Prepare yourself for any potential outcome – Interventions are often successful, but sometimes your loved one will be so deeply entrenched in denial that they will angrily storm out of the building, or even start laughing in your face. If your loved one refuses treatment that day it doesn’t mean that the intervention was unsuccessful. A seed has been planted.

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When you or your loved one is ready for help, The Plymouth House is here. Our admissions process is simple and straightforward and can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. We will provide a complimentary addiction assessment, a free, no obligation insurance benefit check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you or your loved one has to do is ask for help. We will take care of the rest. Contact us today to connect with an interventionist in your immediate area.

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Russell Beebe

Reviewed for accuracy by:

Russell Beebe MLADC, LCMHC

Russell is a Master Level Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC) and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) with over 11 years experience treating individuals with substance use and co-occurring disorders. Russell was inspired to get into the field after his experience as a resident at The Plymouth House in 2008.