Chances are that your Intervention Session will not be the first time you and others have tried to confront the chemically addicted person with the reality of his/her situation. You have probably discussed and presented the facts about chemical use and the harmful consequences of this use before. Some of these confrontations may have included threatening the chemically dependent person with the loss of job or family if change did not occur. Many of these past confrontations ended up in family arguments or apologies or tears or promises. As time passed, however, the promises were broken, the discussions forgotten, and/or the threats were not carried out. In short, the confrontations did not bring about any lasting positive changes.
Structured intervention is different from these past confrontations and it is these differences that make it effective. First of all, care, concern, and support are provided during the intervention. The chemically dependent person’s defensiveness is reduced because he/she can feel that everyone is trying to help and not hurt. There is no need to respond in anger or hide behind tears or silence. He/she can listen to what is being said and can be assured that the support will always be there. Because the concerned others do not blame, judge, or criticize, the chemically dependent person does not feel attacked and does not need a shield from both the people and the words.
The information which is presented during the intervention is all chemically related data. We focus on the harmful consequences of the chemical use and give specific, accurate and true accounts of these harmful consequences. We do not discuss behaviors or weaknesses which are not related to the chemical use.
By keeping the focus on the drinking/drug behavior, we tell the chemically addicted person over and over again that it is the chemicals that are causing the life problems. In essence, we state and document the existence of the disease. We encourage the addicted person to get professional help for the disease. Otherwise, when the focus is not kept on the disease, we end up telling our chemically addicted person that he/she has many different problems, all of which need separate solutions. We overwhelm them with requests for change. He/she is not only confused by all these requests, but honestly doesn’t know where to begin or what to change first.
Alternatives for the chemically addicted person and for the concerned others are arranged prior to the intervention session. In past confrontations the chemically addicted person may have agreed to get professional help, but may either have changed his/her mind the following day or hour, or simply never followed through with the commitment. By prearranging alternatives for professional help, we remove the opportunity for the chemically addicted person to have a change of mind or to procrastinate. By making arrangements for the alternatives selected by the concerned others, we also force ourselves to take positive action, rather than to threaten.
Your Intervention Goal is two-fold:
- To present to your chemically dependent person data about his/her chemical use in a caring and concerned manner in order to motivate that person to obtain professional help.
- Define for yourself and all those present what you are going to do for yourself, whether that person gets help or not.
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