The goals and many moving parts in a professional intervention make it impossible to formulate a single picture of success. It also depends on who you’re asking and how intervention is defined. If you ask an interventionist who believes it consists of a speech or conversation similar to what a 12-step call would be, then the answer would be based on whether or not the substance user agreed to enter a treatment center. It would be a different success rate depending on whether the loved one went to a treatment center; another if he or she left treatment against medical advice; or completed the program; and yet another if follow through occurred based on the discharge plan of the center. Given the many variables, establishing a rate of success can seem a futile pursuit.
The success rate of addiction recovery following treatment and how a successful recovery is defined present yet more variables in any rating system. A family asking an interventionist about success rates tells us they are unclear as to what constitutes a professional intervention. We understand people want to know if their loved one is going to accept help, something we most certainly want. The success rate alone is not what families should be focused on and is only one piece of the intervention process. The job of an intervention company and its personnel is to help a family understand all the moving parts of the process. Families need to understand there are many things they can do to help increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. At the same time, a success rate should not be based on things over which neither the family nor the interventionist have control.
An intervention is not about how to control your loved one with a substance use or mental health disorder; it is about learning how to let go of believing you can.
A Success Rate is Determined by What One Considers Success
Treatment for addiction has changed considerably over the years. There was a time when success meant complete abstinence from substances, when any consumption of drugs or alcohol would be viewed as a relapse. The disease theory of addiction surfaced in the 1960s and changed what is viewed as success today, although opinions vary significantly. Definitions of success can range from complete abstinence; to a small reduction in use in addition to being medication compliant; or just showing up to a therapy appointment. Currently, many include statistics that define success based on anything that is an improvement over the previous situation. A 41-year-old man living in his parents’ basement, taking daily methadone at a clinic, and using heroin 5 days a week (down from 7 days a week), would be classified as a success by harm reduction proponents. Just as with the definition of success for interventions, it all depends on who is being asked and what is viewed as success. If a family’s only goal for an intervention is to have their loved one stop using methamphetamines even while continuing to smoke marijuana, their view of success may differ widely from others’.
Family First Intervention helps you formulate your definition of success. We are not in complete agreement with the examples above, but that is not for us to determine. Ultimately, what a family is willing to accept as successful for themselves or the substance user is something they will have to live with. Our goal and our mission, regardless of the path the substance user takes, are to help a family begin their own recovery. We aim to provide an effective intervention process that helps a family find freedom and independence from the substance user’s behaviors. If addiction problems were exclusive to substance use, then moderation and decreasing use might be a successful goal. In our experience, the loved one’s family is ultimately calling about the behaviors of the substance user, not the substance use. In other words, switching drugs of choice or decreasing use may not alter the behaviors that have exhausted the family. It is not so much what or how much an individual uses; it’s what the person does, and how he or she behaves that most always brings families down.
Family Follow Through and Intervention Success Rates
The success rate of just about anything is largely dependent on following through with the suggested changes. We have heard countless stories of substance users suggesting that Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t work. In all those stories, we have not yet found one who could tell us precisely what didn’t work. They could not confirm having followed through with sponsorship; not one of them worked all 12 steps; nor did they do an honest inventory of their behaviors. Most of them did not get past the first two steps, yet they claim that AA failed. One of the biggest challenges in addiction recovery for both families and substance users is validating success rates when there is no follow through with the suggestions and the overall treatment plan. Success rates depend on the substance user as much as they do on the institution or the organization providing guidance. Consider the analogy of purchasing a product that requires assembly. How many of us forgo the instructions and then blame the product for its defects or difficulty of use?
Strong evidence suggests that a family entering recovery becomes healthier and is in a better position to cope with the loved one’s addiction. Regardless of the substance user’s decision, family recovery and follow through increase successful outcomes long term for all involved. Addiction is often about playing the victim and blaming people, places, and things for shortcomings real and imagined. If the substance user or family has not fully surrendered to professionals and others who have had success, how can anyone or anything else be to blame? If a family is still in untreated codependency and a substance user in untreated addiction, their notion of success would have little meaning? Even if a healthy, sober person had previous attempts at recovery that truly did not succeed, might that experience still be considered an early part of the overall success? In this context, previous attempts should not be bad mouthed or seen as utter failures but rather acknowledged as a step that led to the current success. Blaming others for our problems and playing the victim card are behaviors that don’t advance the path to recovery.
Is it time for an intervention?
It’s not always easy to tell when a loved one struggling with drugs or alcohol is in need of professional help. Find out if it’s time with our quiz.
Thankfully, families don’t have to host interventions alone. They can call in a trained professional to help ensure success and make the process easier. Find out how
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At Family First Intervention, it’s our mission to help families understand how they can help save their loved ones from addiction. Get the facts.