An intervention is a big step. It’s one of the most powerful tools you have when someone in your life is using drugs or alcohol. Whether you’ve hired a professional interventionist or are planning to stage your own intervention, it’s important to be focused and prepare yourself as much as possible. How might your loved one react? What excuses might they use? Knowing what to expect can help you feel calm and ready for this important meeting–and for its outcome.
Not Every Intervention Is Simple
Best-case scenario: the person at risk is ready to get treatment. They welcome the intervention as a chance to make a change. Of course, not every situation is this easy, and it is best to prepare yourself for possible resistance. Consider the list below of ways your loved one might respond.
- They say they don’t have a problem. Denial is a common response, and your loved one may also express some anger and pain. They may accuse you of turning on them.
- They may say they don’t need you to tell them what to do. In their anger, they may lash out at you. They may say hateful things and try to make you feel guilty for your role in their situation.
- They may say they don’t have time. Lack of time may be an authentic concern. If they have responsibilities at home or work, leaving for residential treatment–or even attending outpatient treatment on weeknights–can seem impossible.
- They may walk out. It can be devastating when a loved one rejects your help. A professional interventionist or addictions counselor will be able to guide your actions from this point.
- They may say they don’t have money for treatment. Money can also be a legitimate concern. However, remember that most health insurance plans provide coverage for mental health needs, including addiction.
These are just a few of the common scenarios that can play out during drug and alcohol interventions. While it’s impossible to predict the outcome of your specific situation, knowing how your loved one might respond to an intervention can prepare you and help you have less anxiety about the process.
What To Do If Your Loved One Refuses Care
One of the hardest parts about having a loved one suffer from addiction is that you feel like you’re on the sidelines: watching what’s happening, wanting to help, and feeling helpless. Interventions are an effective tool, and a professional interventionist can help reduce some of the risks of the worst outcome. Yet, your loved one may still refuse to get help.
Expect to feel some anger, guilt, and frustration. You may also feel helpless about your next step. However, there are still things you can do.
- Support your loved one as much as possible. Give them time to heal and think.
- Don’t enable them by providing food, shelter, or money. Cut off any support you provide that lets them keep using.
- Consider telling them you can’t be in their life. It’s okay to set boundaries that protect your own mental and emotional health. Boundaries show your loved one how serious the situation is and may prompt them to get help.
- Consider counseling for yourself. Therapy may be one of the best ways to protect yourself from the devastating effects of your loved one’s addiction.
- Ask them to go to counseling with you. If your addicted loved one is your parent, child, or spouse, joint counseling with an experienced addiction treatment professional can offer some support. It may also help your loved one realize that change is possible.
Interventions are a tool but not a solution. Even if your loved one agrees to get treatment, they will need ongoing support in the coming months and years. During that time, you may feel frustrated and even have some anger about the situation. You may worry about the outcome and whether they are going to relapse. Getting individual and couples or family counseling during this time can help you and your loved one learn how to communicate with each other and support each other.
If you are suffering from a loved one’s addiction and don’t know how to help them, consider reaching out to a professional interventionist. They can help you learn about addiction, prepare and plan the best way to approach your loved one, and provide resources for you and your loved one as you embark on the recovery journey.