Who Needs a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Intervention?

a male client during an intervention

If your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’re not alone. Today, an estimated 46.3 million Americans qualify for a substance use disorder diagnosis. This means that something like one in three Americans has a close friend or family member with a substance use disorder. Here, an addiction intervention with your loved one, where you force them to recognize the extent of their substance abuse is widely seen as the way to get your loved one into treatment. That’s important because just 11% of people who need rehab and recovery treatment actually get it. However, an intervention is not always the immediate answer. It’s also not right for every situation.

Taking the time to figure out the best approach to getting your loved one into treatment is important. That means assessing where your loved one is at now and what they need to move further into treatment and recovery.

They Don’t Respond to Being Talked To

If you try talking to your loved one about drug abuse or alcohol abuse and don’t get anywhere, it may be time for an intervention. Drug and alcohol abuse often create situations where the person struggling with substance abuse resorts to denial. They can’t admit how bad things are even to themselves, because they would be too ashamed, or they would lose too much sense of self. Substance use disorders or addiction are often seen as highly shameful and are socially stigmatized. People can be afraid to talk about them, afraid to acknowledge them, and will actively lie about them. If you sit down and try to talk about substance abuse and just get anger, shame, denial, or other reactions like agreeing to quit and then not – it might be time to stage an intervention.

Here, the intervention is about forcing your loved one to realize just how badly they are doing. It means confronting them with the severity of their substance abuse and its impact on your life.

They Hide or Lie About Substance Abuse

It’s common for people struggling with substance use disorder to lie about it and to hide it – even from themselves. Someone who is drinking too much might resort to tactics like refilling bottles or immediately hiding cans and bottles. They might not even be able to keep track of what they are drinking themselves. People who use a lot often do so to the point of losing control or blacking out and won’t even remember how much they used or drank. They’ll just have memory gaps. So, people who are adamantly denying how much they drink or chronically hiding it might not even realize how much they are lying. That can mean an intervention is important to even get them to realize how bad their problems are.

Here, many people use tactics like collecting bottles, keeping track of how often their loved one is high or drunk, and directly confronting them with that. However, in this case, talking about the impact of drug or alcohol abuse can be equally as important.

They’re Spiraling Out of Control

The more people are visibly losing control, the more important it is to actively try to step in and intervene. That should always start with talking. It should always start with offering options and trying to make your loved one feel in control. However, if that doesn’t work and things are getting worse, staging an intervention can be important to preventing them from harming themselves, their relationships, and their career or study. Spiraling often means they are less and less in control of how much they use, when they use, and what they say or do while under the influence. The worse behavior, mood, and substance abuse get, the more your loved one needs an intervention. Often, that’s because it means that just talking won’t have an impact. The less people are in control, they more they need a dramatic effort to get their attention, and that can mean having an intervention.

Their Health or Life is at Risk

If your loved one is spiraling badly, they might be actively putting themselves in danger. That might mean they’re driving while under the influence, using at work, or putting themselves in danger of an overdose. If they’re drinking to blackout drunk, passing out intoxicated, or otherwise endangering themselves with substance abuse, you want to stop it and as quickly as possible. That can mean an intervention. Here, it’s still important to talk to your loved one first. Having a sit down and a discussion about health and well-being without a confrontation is good and it will work to build trust. Your loved one should not be startled by you realizing they are abusing drugs or alcohol out of the blue. However, if they continue actively endangering themselves, others, or their career after talking about things, it may be important to have an intervention. In some cases, that can mean confronting your loved one with the things they’ve done that have endangered them. For example, “I am terrified every time you get into the car while you’re drunk”. In other cases, it can mean pointing out that their substance abuse impacts others. “You drove with our child while high”. In some cases, it can mean sharing how much you’re afraid of them hurting themselves, of communicable diseases, of overdose, or of an accident.

What you share is up to you, however, if your loved one is in danger, it is important to confront them with that and to make it clear that they are actually in danger and you aren’t just making it up.

Other Options Haven’t Worked

An intervention is a last ditch effort to get your loved one into drug and alcohol treatment. Getting your loved one into treatment should start with talks, non-judgement, and building trust. It should start with “I’d like you to get help with this thing you’re struggling about because I want the best for you”. That means being patient, it means talking to your loved one around denial, and it means being patient. When that doesn’t work, you can plan and stage an intervention. Of course, if you just don’t notice substance abuse until it’s way too late, that may not be an option. However, the ideal is that you show support and that you try to get your loved one into treatment from when you notice there’s a problem and that you follow up with an intervention when those things do not work.

Interventions are emotional, confronting, and sometimes dangerous for everyone involved. It’s important to reach out and to get professional guidance before staging one. That means contacting a rehab center to ensure you can quickly move your loved one into treatment if the intervention works. IT also means getting professional help with planning, choosing who to be there, and ensuring everyone stays safe. You are confronting someone who is emotionally unstable and pushing them as hard as you can, they can and will behave in emotional, traumatic, and even angry ways. It’s important that you have the insight, tools, and professional help to manage that in as safe a manner as possible.

Good luck getting your loved one into treatment.

Stairway Recovery Homes has several sober living homes located in great areas of Los Angeles, California. We feature effective, community-based recovery homes for both men’s only sober living and women’s only sober living

About Jim Sugel

SEO and Digital Marketing Expert Jim Sugel is an SEO and Digital Marketing Expert in addition to having achieved the coveted Google Partner status for PPC expertise. Prior to focusing on Digital Marketing, Jim worked in Information Technology roles at a variety of national firms as a software engineer and consultant, resulting in many years of professional coding and consulting experience. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science, cum laude in Computer Science and Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. After relocating to Southern California from his native Chicago, he became involved in the recovery industry here, discovering a natural niche in helping treatment centers with Digital Marketing and other technology projects. Jim is the Founder and CEO of Airtight Digital, a firm that specializes in digital marketing for the behavioral health industry. His other interests include hiking, canyoneering, urban exploration, and screenwriting. Jim now lives in beautiful and sunny Orange County, California.