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Interventions are one of the most crucial components of recovery from addiction. The intervention is an opportunity for the loved one and friends of a person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction to express how the habit has hurt them and to show their strong desire to see him or her seek help.
Ideally, the presence of a strong support system should encourage the loved one to enter rehab and make a positive change.
But it doesn’t always happen that way. At first, it is common to hear a loved one say no to a drug intervention.
Initial Expectations May Fall Short
Unfortunately, some addictions are incredibly powerful and get stronger the longer they continue.
A person with a substance abuse disorder may become wholly enveloped in his or her bad habits. As a result, the earlier personality is replaced with an obsession to secure the next dose.
This individual may become defensive, argumentative, or even hostile when presented with an intervention.
If he or she refuses to acknowledge the testimonials of the participants in the intervention, the family and friends may wonder if there is any hope for a recovery from addiction.
What Does A Refusal of Treatment Mean?
People struggling with intense addictions inevitably become masters of manipulation.
They will start looking for any method available to secure the next dose.
Typically, if they do not receive money or other forms of help from those closest to them, their behavior starts to change, and this may include:
- Stealing from family members
- Committing violent crimes
- Threatening loved ones
When the friends and family of a person with an addiction stage an intervention, they do more than just tell the person how his or her habits have negatively impacted them.
They also let the person know they will no longer continue providing help unless he or she enters treatment.
A refusal could mean that the individual does not believe he or she has an addiction. But more often than not, a refusal is actually an attempt to call their bluff, stating that he or she does not believe they will follow through with their warnings to stop enabling their drug use.
For example, the parents of an adult with a substance abuse problem may have continued paying his or her rent while he or she maintained an addiction.
During the intervention, the parents tell their child that their financial support will end unless he or she enters treatment. The child may then assume that it is an empty threat and refuse to enter rehab.
If the parents enabled his or her habit for an extended time, he or she will simply believe they have no choice but to continue providing support.
Negotiation during Intervention
Many interventions result in some type of negotiation. The subject of the intervention may argue that his or her habit is “under control” or “not as bad as it seems.” He or she also refuses to acknowledge the problem or consequences of the behavior.
The subject of the intervention may try to corner those involved who appear most likely to waver in their claims of cutting off support.
Having a professional interventionist guide these events is a great way to prevent this from happening, as the interventionist can guide the conversation back to the group setting.
It is essential for everyone involved in an intervention to form a united, unwavering front.
Division among the participants only opens the door for the subject of the intervention to manipulate his or her way into restoring the status quo.
Ultimately, if he or she refuses to accept the need for treatment and tries to call out the intervention participants on their “bluffs,” those involved have no other option but to accept the refusal.
Accepting Refusal and Moving Forward
If a loved one refuses help in an intervention, the family must accept that decision.
Each family member will iterate the consequences of not accepting help and ask the loved one to cease contacting him or her unless it is to accept help and begin recovery. This can be a difficult thing for a family to accept, but it is necessary for the intervention process.
It is common for the addict to call or text people in the intervention group with promises to change. More often than not, threats and/or anger are directed at those involved in the intervention group. It is best to ignore these messages and stick with the terms of the agreement set forth in the intervention.
When the subject of the intervention refuses help, the family needs to stand firm with their decision to end support. This can be incredibly difficult, especially if the person with the addiction begins lashing out in unpredictable and dangerous ways.
Remaining firm on promises made about the consequences of their refusal is crucial. Any backpedaling is a sign of weakness, one which the loved one will continue to exploit for as long as possible.
What Happens Next?
Although it may be very difficult, those involved with the intervention should try to limit contact with the addict after his or her refusal.
If they do speak, they should reiterate their strong desire to see them enter into treatment and recover.
The terms of an intervention may seem harsh, even to those making them. However, they are necessary if recovery is going to happen in any way.
Eventually, the subject of the intervention may realize that his support system meant what they said during the intervention.
The shock of losing previous support can be difficult for these individuals to process. This kind of experience can be a valuable wake-up call that ultimately encourages him or her to seek treatment.
Working With a Professional at Family First
An intervention is far more likely to go sideways if the family and friends participating in it do not adequately prepare. They may rehearse what they want to say and acknowledge their loved one’s need for substance abuse treatment. However, being in the moment without adequate preparation is a bad idea.
Working with a professional interventionist not only leads to more constructive and positive interventions but also increases the chances of the intervention succeeding.
Professional interventionists like those at Family First Intervention work closely with the relatives and friends of people struggling with addiction. They develop comprehensive plans for their interventions. A professional interventionist can coach a family on how to respond to threats and negativity. They also help the family more accurately express their feelings and grievances.
Ultimately, a professional interventionist can reduce the chances of the subject refusing the participants’ terms and instead accepting the need for treatment.
An intervention is not about how to control the substance user; it is about how to let go of believing you can.
“The most formidable challenge we professionals face is families not accepting our suggested solutions. Rather, they only hear us challenging theirs. Interventions are as much about families letting go of old ideas as they are about being open to new ones. Before a family can do something about the problem, they must stop allowing the problem to persist. These same thoughts and principles apply to your loved one in need of help.”Mike Loverde, MHS, CIP