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Drug or Alcohol Intervention
DRUG OR ALCOHOL INTERVENTION—WHAT IS IT AND WHEN SHOULD I CONSIDER IT?
Many families often see a loved one who is abusing alcohol or drugs and this is interfering with his or her life. If they are drinking too much alcohol, it is clear that they need to stop. If they are using drugs to get "high", then it is easy to recognize that they need to stop.
It is more difficult if a person started using prescription opioid drugs like OxyContin or methadone because of pain. They may no longer have the pain, but they may insist that they do because they have become addicted to the drug. Or, they may be taking more and more of the drug but their pain keeps increasing—see “Opioids Increasing Pain”.
Regardless of the reason, what most substance abusers don’t realize is that these drugs are clouding their thinking or making their reaction times much slower, and this is creating a danger when they drive or operate machinery. Some of the drugs that can lead to the need for an intervention are:
- Fentanyl Patch
The family members cannot understand how the substance abuser does not see that the drug or alcohol has taken over their lives. The family members decide that they have to “intervene” before something tragic happens, but often these interventions fail.
Sometimes it is because the family members do not actually communicate with the abuser using the techniques outlined in HOW DO I TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT GETTING HELP?
Other times, these interventions fail because the addict is not ready to even admit that they have a problem and argues forcibly that their substance use is not interfering with their activities or their lives. This is particularly true with alcoholics.
This quote refers to alcoholics, but it is just as applicable to people addicted to prescription drugs:
“It is a myth that alcoholics have some spontaneous insight and then seek treatment. Victims of this disease do not submit to treatment out of spontaneous insight – typically, in our experience they come to their recognition scenes through a buildup of crises that crash through their almost impenetrable defense systems. They are forced to seek help; and when they don’t, they perish miserably.” – Vernon Johnson. I’ll Quit Tomorrow, 1973
Before someone in your family lands up in the emergency room, get an intervention specialist to help you get them to a safe and effective medical detox center.
It is not uncommon for a drug user to be so afraid of the pain of withdrawal that they will not even consider the possibility of stopping their drug use. (Read the article “Opiates and Pain”.) This is particularly true of substance abusers who are on a high dose of methadone and are not aware that there are medical detox centers, like Novus, that specialize in helping high dose methadone withdrawal. (Read the article “High Dose Methadone Withdrawal”.)
However, there are professional interventionists who specialize in being able to convince an alcohol or drug abuser that it is not only time for them to admit that they have a problem, but that there is a solution which will be accepted. These interventionists are often people who have had their own drug or alcohol abuse problems and who have extensive experience in getting others to recognize that they need to seek help.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A PROFESSIONAL INTERVENTION
When you hire an interventionist, you are hiring someone for their knowledge and experience in getting a drug or alcohol abuser to realize that they must seek treatment. Many of the more successful interventionists will proceed in the following manner when they are contacted by the family/friends of the abuser:
- They first will gather data about the substance abuser from the family or friends of the abuser;
- They will then determine if they believe that they can convince the abuser to seek help;
- A contract will be signed between the family/friends and the interventionist clearly setting forth the obligations of each party including:
- The charges for the interventionist’s time;
- The charges for the interventionist’s expenses;
- The charges if the drug or alcohol abuser is not willing to attend any meeting with the interventionist and the family;
- The obligations of the interventionist–particularly if the first intervention is not successful;
- The obligations of the family.
- They instruct the family/friends on how to arrange a meeting with the substance abuser, and each participant’s role is defined;
- The interventionist meets with the family/friends before the meeting with the substance abuser.
- During this meeting:
- The interventionist seeks to have the family/friends realize what they are doing that serves to enable the substance abuser and how these actions are actually harming the substance abuser by allowing this dangerous behavior to continue.
- If the intervention meeting with the substance abuser has continued for a while and the substance abuser does not agree to seek treatment, the interventionist obtains the agreement of the family/friends to notify the person that they are no longer going to condone or enable their behavior.
- These steps may include having the substance abuser move out, stop giving money to the substance abuser, cut off contact or stop other ways that they have been enabling the substance abuser.
- The interventionist works with the family/friends to have an agreed-upon treatment facility selected and payment arranged for, and to have transportation arranged to the facility as soon as possible after the substance abuser agrees to treatment;
- Because all people change their minds if given time, it is vital that the substance abuser be taken to treatment immediately after obtaining his or her agreement;
- The intervention meeting occurs and the interventionist communicates to the substance abuser the following:
- How much the family/friends care for the substance abuser;
- How much the family/friends want only the best for the substance abuser;
- The interventionist, who has recovered from a substance abuse problem himself, tells his story and listens to the substance abuser talk about his situation.
- If at any time in the process, the substance abuser decides that it is time to seek treatment, then the interventionist travels with the substance abuser to the chosen facility as soon as possible;
- If the substance abuser balks, then the family/friends explain the consequences if the substance abuser does not agree to obtain treatment.
Some interventions have taken place over a few hours and some have taken days. It often depends on the skill of the interventionist and the willingness of the family/friends to stop enabling the substance abuser. It is important that everyone understands that the first intervention may not be successful, but if the substance abuser finds that the family/friends are taking the steps to stop the enabling, then the abuser may change his or her mind.
If the substance abuser contacts the family/friends or the interventionist to express willingness to obtain treatment, then it is vital that the person be immediately transported to a treatment facility.
HOW TO SELECT AN INTERVENTIONIST
Sometimes, a member of the clergy can be the interventionist, or it can be a friend of the drug or alcohol abuser. However, in more difficult cases it is often better if you contact a professional. On the internet you will find many people who advertise that they do interventions. They may have nice websites, but all of us have learned that we have to look behind the website to see if someone is really appropriate for us.
Some people have many initials after their names and promote that they have advanced degrees and this makes them the better choice. Others simply advertise that they do interventions. The prices that they charge also vary widely. Some may charge $2,000 plus expenses of travel and others charge $10,000 plus expenses.
We think that selecting an intervention company should be made in the same way that you select any other professional. Here is what we recommend that you ask:
- Do they have other families with whom they have worked who will provide references?
- Are they licensed by any state to perform interventions (they may not be required to be licensed but many states do require licensing).
- Do they have insurance in the event that there is a situation that develops while meeting with or accompanying the substance abuser to the treatment facility?
- Who is actually going to be doing the intervention and can you speak with him or her?
- When you speak to the interventionist, ask about their background and decide if you believe that they will be able to effectively communicate with the substance abuser.
- Do they have any references with whom you can speak? (Because of confidentiality rules they may not be able to provide you with a name of a family, but they can give you the names of people at treatment facilities that have worked with them.)
- If you are still interested at this point, ask to see their contract.
- Since they are going to be transporting the substance abuser, verify that they have liability insurance.
- Make sure the contract accurately reflects all the assurances made over the telephone.
Few things are more tragic than watching a friend or family member ruin their lives by abusing a substance. At Novus Medical Detox Center, we have helped a number of patients who came to us as a result of a successful intervention by a member of the clergy, friends or family, or a professional interventionist.
Few things are more fulfilling than seeing someone leave Novus Medical Detox Center safely withdrawn from Alcohol, OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Xanax, heroin, methadone or psychoactive drugs. The smiles and expressions of gratitude from these patients are gifts that we at Novus receive daily. Most important, these patients have successfully taken the first step to regaining their lives. We are delighted that we can help.
At Novus Medical Detox Center, we specialize in helping people find a cure to the problems caused by drugs and alcohol.
NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.
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