You may be wondering how effective a full scale intervention might be on your loved one who is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.
To some extent, my belief is that the intervention is probably worth trying, as sort of an ultimate effort, but that you need to be realistic about the outcome.
What I mean is that, if you happen to get very lucky and have nearly perfect timing, then the intervention can and will be successful. The struggling addict will receive your intervention as it is intended, with loving compassion, and they will agree to go to rehab. They will then check into rehab, turn their life around, and never use drugs or alcohol ever again, living happily ever after.
I would hesitate to guess at the percentage of professional interventions that actually produce this ideal outcome, but my suspicion is that the ultimate success rate is a bit lower than what the public perception is hoping that it is. The problem is this: Every addict and alcoholic has a line of surrender in their journey. They only reach this line of surrender when they have had enough chaos and misery. The individual has either crossed this line of surrender, or they have not.
The mass organized intervention effort is not going to push them over that line if they have not reached it yet.
Therefore, the person is either in a state of total and complete surrender or they are not. There is no middle ground in terms of producing the ideal outcome of total life transformation.
Now that said, there are some partial outcomes that may be achieved if the person is not quite to that state of ultimate misery and hitting bottom just yet.
Perhaps they will agree to seek help after the intervention, but they are not necessarily in that state of total surrender. In this case, it is very likely that if they do agree to attend inpatient treatment, they are not going to transform their life and remain clean and sober forever based on this one experience. They are not quite ready yet, and therefore they are very likely to relapse following their treatment.
Does this mean that you should not do the intervention? If you know that the struggling addict is nowhere near full surrender, should you still urge them to go to treatment and seek help?
Opinions on that question will differ among people, but my belief is that you should definitely still urge them to get help. The message that you need to deliver is clear: Keep pushing them towards rehab. Keep pushing them towards the solution. Harp on the idea that they need inpatient treatment.
In fact, instead of saying you are an alcoholic or addict, just admit it! you might instead say all of your problems could be solved by going to rehab. Focus on the solution. This is not something that is going to suddenly work overnight, of course. Instead, you are setting them up to know what your answer is, to know the solution, to have an idea of what they need to do when they are finally ready to seek help.
There is a large group of people who would argue that you cannot force them to get clean and sober. While you can force them to attend rehab in some cases, they may just turn back to drugs and alcohol as soon as they regain their freedom. In other words, a real addict or alcoholic does not have to be intoxicated or under the influence in order to still be addicted. They are only going to seek recovery when the pain in their life from addiction becomes great enough. They will only seek rehab when the misery and chaos of their life becomes so overwhelming that they are then willing to face the fear of sobriety, the fear of inpatient treatment.
And make no mistake, people who are avoiding rehab are afraid of it. Don't throw that in their face, of course. No one wants to admit that they are afraid. But it is fear that keeps someone stuck in addiction. They are afraid to go to inpatient rehab, not knowing exactly what they will face there, and giving up their drug of choice in the process. That is a very scary proposition for the struggling addict.
They are not going to agree to go to rehab until their misery from active addiction is greater than their fear of inpatient rehab and sobriety.
This is where the idea of tough love comes in. If you are constantly enabling and putting pillows under them then they never experience the full pain and misery of their condition. And if they never experience the full pain and misery of their addiction then it just allows them to keep using drugs, believing that the outside world is the problem rather than their own drug use.
The idea of tough love is that you have to let the struggling addict experience the pain that they are creating in their own life.
Do not deny them of this pain.
If you deny them of their pain then it opens the door for them to keep using their drug of choice.
When you allow them to experience the consequences of their addiction, it teaches the addict (slowly sometimes) that the pain and misery in their world is being caused by addiction.
I can remember being so baffled by how miserable I was in life, and I could not understand why the drugs and the alcohol were no longer doing what I wanted them to do, it was like I could never drink enough booze or take enough drugs to properly self medicate my way to true happiness. And yet I kept trying to do that, over and over again, all while experiencing more pain and misery and consequences. The outside world could look at my behavior and explain to me why I was unhappy, but all I could see was the flip side of this: I just don't have enough drugs, booze, and freedom in my life.
That is classic denial. I was blaming everything and everyone else expect for the drugs and the booze. It was anything or anyone's fault, but not the drugs. And I stuck by this stupid idea until the bitter end, when I finally became so miserable and so unhappy that I was willing to risk everything by going into rehab. What was I really risking though? In my mind at the time, I felt like it was a huge risk because what if I was in rehab and I was miserable and I was craving drugs and alcohol the whole time? But the reality was, I was drinking and using and I was already miserable.
And I had finally realized that. I finally admitted that I had all the booze and drugs that I wanted, and yet I was still miserable. I could not make myself happy using my drug of choice, and that was the one belief that I had clung to for so long, and yet it wasn't happening. So at that time I surrendered, I asked for help, and I went to rehab.
Since that day my life has just become better and better over time. Note that this was a little over a full year after a massive, full scale intervention was done for me by my friends and family. Following that intervention, I relapsed and drank for a full year of misery.
But then something clicked for me. And now I am free from addiction.
So keep trying.
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