Fear. Uncertainty. Anger. Rage. Isolation. Deceit. Instability. If you relate to any or all of these words, it is very possible that you have an alcoholic or drug addict in your family. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (ncadd.org) describes addiction as “a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point, impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, physical health, finances, and overall family dynamics.” Addiction affects the family in such a way that every person feels its negative affects. It is also a progressive disease, meaning that without treatment, it will continue to worsen. It may feel like the situation is hopeless, and that you’ve tried everything to stop your loved one from using. If you feel that your family is at “the breaking point,” it is time to consider calling a professional interventionist.
You may be wondering how to tell if an intervention is necessary, or if the timing is right for your family to stage an intervention with the addict. According to Elements Behavioral Health (addiction-intervention.com), there are several clear signs that an intervention could be the right step for your family to push the alcoholic in the direction of treatment.
- Tolerance for the drug: For example, they might need four or five beers to feel a buzz when they used to only need one or two. Or they might be refilling their prescription for pain medication more often than they used to. You might notice these signs immediately, but it is more likely that the addict will find ways to hide their increased use; therefore, it may take some time to discover that this has been happening.
- Deceptive behavior: Addicts are experts at manipulating those around them to get them to believe that there is no problem. However, you may notice bottles hidden around the house or unmarked pill bottles. Many family members report the addict stealing large amounts of money from them, and then lying about it when they are confronted. If you are noticing these subtle deceptions on a regular basis, you are likely dealing with an addict.
- Their “appearance deteriorates:” For some people, this means not shaving as often as before. For others, it might mean that their clothes are dirty and tattered. It could be that they shower less or stop brushing their hair. One friend of a drug addict recalled that the addict used to have beautiful curly hair, but after she fell into her addiction, she started to form dreadlocks because she let hair care fall to the wayside.
- Forgetfulness and Clumsiness: Paul Williams puts it frankly: “You know you’re an alcoholic when you misplace things … like a decade.” As addiction and alcoholism progress, the addict begins to forget things you never thought they would forget. They might miss their child’s birthday party or forget about an important business meeting, things that they normally would remember. You might also notice that they trip and fall more easily or drop things on a regular basis. Some alcoholics will get broken bones or bruises and cuts but have no idea how they got them.
- “Financial woes:” According to addiction-intervention.com, one of the tell-tale signs that intervention is necessary is that they lose grip on their finances. They might empty out a savings account, then start asking friends and family to lend them money, or they might steal, as described before. The drug becomes the only thing they can think about, so it trumps any consideration for finances.
- Decreased responsibility: Another sign that intervention may be necessary for your loved one is that they become careless in their responsibilities. Straight A students might see their grades slipping, a dedicated employee starts calling in sick on a regular basis, or a perfect driving record suddenly has 3 DUIs.
- Isolation: In an attempt to hide their addiction from loved ones, alcoholics begin to withdraw from social situations. They prefer to drink at home rather than with friends or in a bar, unless those friends are also alcoholics. If you have noticed your loved one isolating themselves from you and other people who care about them, intervention could be a powerful method to surround them with love and support.
If your loved one is exhibiting one or more of these signs of addiction, the next step is to consider calling an intervention specialist. They will explain to you what exactly an intervention is, what its purpose is, and what steps must be taken before, during and after an intervention.
Although there are several types of interventions, the most commonly used intervention model for an addict is the classical intervention, which includes an intervention specialist and any concerned family, friends, co-workers or other significant people in the life of the addict. The purpose of the intervention is to get the addict to agree to go to treatment. If you decide that an intervention is necessary, the intervention specialist will then walk you through the steps that will be taken prior to the actual intervention. These steps may include the following:
- The intervention specialist meets individually with different family members and friends to discuss their concerns. He or she will guide each participant in writing out a list of ways in which the addict’s behaviors have affected them.
- Family members and the intervention specialist meet together to go over the agenda of the intervention and to rehearse what they have written.
- The actual intervention happens, in which participants take turns reading their list to the addict.
- If the addict agrees to go to treatment, there will be a ride set up to transport them immediately following the intervention.
- Follow-up appointments and referral to family counseling, Al-Anon, etc.
Your situation may seem hopeless. You’re tired of seeing your addicted loved one’s life falling apart, but there is still hope. Call an Intervention Specialist at Primary Recovery Services today!