Many families ask us, “When is it time for an intervention?” Many families suffer through years of addiction in their family, waiting for their loved one to wake up one day and decide to get sober.
Here’s what we know about the disease of addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease. There is no formal ‘cure.’ Left untreated, addiction will sabotage an individual’s physical health, mental health, psychological health, and/or financial health. It is labeled as ‘chronic,’ because it can lead to jail, psych wards, and ultimately, death.
In its wake, it can take a family and/or friends hostage, dragging everyone down with it. It demands secrets, lies and denial, all of which sustain and, even fuel, the disease. These same secrets, lies, and denial can justify enabling behavior among some family members.
Denial claims there is no disease. Enabling makes it easy for those addicted to continue using, despite negative consequences that continue occurring. Many families and/or friends believe, that somehow if they protect their loved one from failing, their love and protection will be enough to save him/her.
Enabling takes the form of providing the addict a place to stay, paying his/her rent, paying the bills, stocking the pantry, calling in sick for the addict if he/she is too, high or hung over to show up.
Families splinter and can disintegrate under the weight of addiction and its web of deceit, denial, enabling, and subsequent consequences.
For many who suffer with addiction, if their families don’t intervene, life will. It will deliver consequences that can lead to death. However, for those families who decide to take action and intervene in some way, their commitment can lead to recovery and healing for the whole family.
For some, considering an intervention can feel harsh or punitive in dealing with a loved one who suffers from alcoholism and/or drug addiction. The reality is that if addiction is left untreated, it can be fatal. It can take your loved one’s life and/or someone else’s. If you’re asking the question, most likely it’s time.
You will know it’s time if, as a family member and/or friend, you are feeling powerless to save your loved one. You have tried encouraging, hugging, pleading, cajoling, complaining, condemning. In response, you have received promises upon promises, only to watch your loved one continue using, deceiving, and deteriorating. You and your family are exhausted, caught in the vicious cycle of addiction.
Often families wait too late to intervene. And, in the meantime, you and/or your loved one end up experiencing losses you never imagined you would have to experience. Intervening earlier than later can save you and your loved from hitting rock bottom. Intervening earlier than later can raise the bottom for you and your loved one, saving all of you from further losses.
When you do decide to ask for professional help, an intervention provides an opportunity for your whole family to come together and rally around each other, speaking your truth with love and boundaries. It provides a safe space to tell your addicted loved one that you want him or her to be able to live a free, sober and happy life. And it provides an opportunity for participating members to encourage each other on your personal journeys toward health and healing.
An intervention promises to save more than one life. You and your loved one are worth it.