It’s the question you’ve been needing to answer. Are you ready? Do you want to put your foot down on someone’s addiction? Have you reached your breaking point?
You need to be honest with yourself.
Perhaps you are able to maintain your current circumstance without any intervention. If so, it’s strongly advised you enter into a support group. But when you make that decision, consider the children that are living in the home and how, they too, have been affected.
If you don’t how severe your situation, consult someone who has an understanding of addiction. Sometimes, well-meaning leaders in the church can give wrongful advice about addiction, encouraging you to put up with anything no matter what. All this does is encourage a repeat of the cycle over and over again. If you’ve received that advice, you may want to share this material.
Intervention might not be everyone for other reasons. There are times you bypass intervention and seek help immediately. If someone is suicidal, homicidal or exhibits mental health symptoms that are dangerous, no intervention is necessary, you can admit the addict to the Emergency Room. However, they will ultimately have chosen their future either way.
For some of you intervention could be so costly, you have to secure your own life first. That’s okay. Be sure to take care of yourself and also be safe before considering intervention. But if you are ready, then intervention is a great tool to help you come against addiction in a loving, truth-based manner. The intervention plan can also be written before a relapse occurs as a form of prevention and planning.
If the addict has never sought help for addiction, you will need to form an intervention plan with a recovery leader, pastor, counselor, etc. It is essential to learn from others and not take matters into your own hands. If you don’t know someone, please call New Life Spirit Recovery hotline. We will help you or find someone who can.
Interventions are typically not successful if only the key family member that has been helping the addict is involved. The addict might not consider the intervention valid. That’s not to say it can’t happen, you’ll have to pray and decide what works best.
An intervention typically works best with a team approach. The goal of an intervention is to lovingly, and in the spirit of grace, confront the addict. With a team approach, each person that has involvement with the addict expresses their love and desire for the addict to get help. But an intervention also includes how the addiction has brought them personal harm and injury. Done with kindness, yet strength, this is extremely successful. Sometimes the addict can see for the first time how they have hurt others.
When you prepare for intervention, you need to face a variety of outcomes including:
What will I do if they are ready for help?
What does help look like? Are you going to use a program? A 12-step group? An outpatient option? You need to have your information researched ahead of time and decide the best approach. A residential setting is strongly recommended, but there are other alternatives. You need to do what you are comfortable with if they actually make the step to seek help.
They don’t want help and totally reject your offer.
If the addict simply isn’t ready to change, you can’t change this reality. All you can do is protect your heart and life, and enforce the boundaries you set. This means you’ll need to lay down guidelines and consequences for how you are going engage in the relationship. You may need to put the relationship on hold until that person wants or is willing to seek help.
They accept help, but do so with little regard to your needs.
Sometimes the intervention can seemingly blow up in your face. They get help but almost seem spiteful towards you. They shut you out and lock you down. This is frustrating. There are many reasons for that, and getting into a connected group with others dealing with addicts is vital, such as Al-Anon or Celebrate Recovery. This is journey that has many twists and turns, and you need to hear and speak with others on the same pathway. One thing is for certain, you’ll have the opportunity to enter into your own recovery process so that you can empower yourself to overcome and to be healthy no matter what the addict in your life chooses to do.
Preparing for an Intervention
If you do a formal intervention, as soon as the person you love says ‘“yes” to getting help, you immediately want to have bags packed and leave (if you choose a residential option). Don’t allow any time to lapse unless absolutely necessary. There is a strong chance they will do whatever possible to leave to get one more “fix”. You don’t want them out of your sight. Even if they go to their bedroom, they may have drugs already accessible. There can be a more serious tendency to overdose in these circumstances if they want to eat or inject a bunch of drugs at one time.
If you are able, coordinate with jobs and have any daycare needs pre-arranged, that makes the transition easier. Some people may get angry or insulted if you contact an employer, so please use wisdom. If this a life-threatening addiction, it shouldn’t matter. Remember to check local employment laws used to protect people with addiction. You can oftentimes receive medical leaves without having to reveal details. A treatment facility would help you fill out appropriate paperwork to satisfy those requirements.
On the day of the intervention, you would want to approach the addict in a pre-arranged place where everyone would be in attendance. The addict will at first feel tricked and may be bothered. Remember, you are disrupting their love affair with ________ (fill in the blanks). That’s why you are going to first love on the person. Everyone should set the atmosphere with love and support as opposed to anger and shame. Affirmations are very beneficial. The addict will understand that you speak to them from a place of their value, rather than shame.
Assure your family member that everyone will support the healing process and that arrangements can be made to cover the needs while they are gone. This type of approach stands a very credible chance of working. However, you are still encouraged to use professional guidance when and if possible.
Please share this with your recovery leader or pastor and ask for any additional input they may have. This is not an all or nothing list – this is just helpful ways to begin.
Things to pre-plan
- Who can I use for a resource to help with an intervention?
- Who should be included in the intervention? Include people who strongly support the addict’s well being and will be able to maintain healthy boundaries.
- Who should not be included in the intervention? Include those people who are extremely bitter, judgmental, or would in any way continue to enable them in their addiction. The intervention cannot have teams.
- What do I need to prepare in advanced? Treatment program, housing, transportation, daycare, employment medical, finances, etc.
- What is the plan if they agree – this should be a minute by minute, hour by hour team approach to get the person into a safe setting.
- What is my plan for my safety and security if the intervention doesn’t work?
Evaluating my heart
Preparing for an intervention will require your own heart gets situated. Ask yourself the following:
- Am I truly surrendered and ready to leave outcomes to God?
- Am I motivated to see ________________ get well, or this anger-ridden or a reaction to try to change the circumstances?
- Am I willing to disrupt what has been “normal” in our lives? Am I willing to ride out a period of discomfort?
- Will anger or resentment show through in my intervention effort?
- Do I feel ready to embrace pain as a friend rather than a foe?
- Do I need to spend some time getting self care and finding support before I approach this intervention? How long can it wait and how urgent of a need is it?
- Can I live with this person if nothing changes? What can’t I live with?
Sharing with my Addict
Expression is a huge step in a relationship with an addict. So often expression and feelings are bypassed. The addict can’t or won’t deal with them. In an intervention, however, they need to surface. The more real you can be about your feelings, your hurts and your needs, the better. It’s also critical you have the opportunity to express your love for the addict. You may not realize it, but they need to hear that. In some ways, interacting with the addict is like wrestling with an imposter version of who they are. Buried underneath the addict is the person you love – and all the God-given potential they have a spouse, friend, parent, child, sibling, etc.
To help you prepare to share your heart with the addiction for the intervention, these steps are suggested below.
On a separate piece of paper, write out the following answers as if you are talking to ______________.
- I want you to know this is how I see you and love you. This is your potential and this is the future I see for you without the (name the drug).
- I want you to know this is how you have hurt me. (Be very specific and heartfelt)
- This is what I will no longer allow in my life due to your addiction.
- This is how I value our relationship
- This is how difficult it has been for me to watch you self destruct.
- This is what changes when you are using (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.)_______________
- I don’t want to watch you hurt yourself or me anymore. You need help. (Use your own words to express this)
- If you aren’t willing to get help, this is where I stand with our relationship.
Writing the Letter
Once you have gathered your thoughts, the objective is that you write a personalized letter that includes the pieces that you’ve discovered are most important. Part of this process prepares your heart because you may not even realize what you would say until you start writing. Again, you will be surprised how much hurt and pain will come up when you write this. But something else may occur. You may find yourself very angry and hardened. If this occurs, it’s vital that you seek support before you proceed. If done out of anger, even though your feelings are understandable, it could have a catastrophic effect. When anger surfaces, keep writing it out. However, don’t use that letter for the intervention itself. Your feelings of anger are valid! It’s just better to work some of that out before you engage than spew that out and ruin the chances of a positive intervention process.
If you are considering writing a letter on your own, be sure to seek some advice first from someone who has understanding of the addition cycle. This will help you to gain clarity. Your letter should exclude any control or direct statement that dictates what the addict should do, rather it is an invitation for them to seek help, and a clear boundary of what you will no longer tolerate.
Presenting the Intervention
The moment of the intervention could be a life-changing event, or it could drive the person back into addiction. That’s why you need to make your mind up beforehand how you can handle future situations. If the person isn’t ready, it means they need more pain. If a person rejects help, but then is allowed to remain with the same provisions as before, the intervention had zero power and no effect. And chances are, the addict knows that.
Instead, when the day arrives, you have to ask yourself how ready you are for change, and how willing you are to disrupt your lifestyle to show the addict you are not going to stay in agreement with their bad choices?
Margaret’s intervention didn’t go as planned. Even though the family perfectly followed guidelines, and felt they all made a strong case, she simply didn’t want to oblige. Her heartbroken husband struggled with the next step. He hadn’t been as prepared for her to say no. Thus, he packed his bags and and took the kids with him to his parent’s house, where he began to legally separate. Margaret was shocked that he took extreme measures and made his own life so inconvenient. She binged for several days, but the empty house was a haunting reminder of her decision, and she eventually did get help.
Jennifer’s didn’t go the same. When she made steps to request her husband leave the family home, she was tempted to retreat. But the stronger her boundaries, the more her husband fought. His unbrokenness remained. She needed at some point to move on with her life because not only was he drinking, but he was being unfaithfulness to their wedding vows. Thus, she had to fully engage in a plan for herself and the protection of her children. It involved building blocks for her to find a job, family support and a specific way to end the current marriage.
Do we suggest that? Never! However, if someone is abusive, unfaithful and unbroken, that may be a direction you’ll have to seek.
Thankfully, there are good outcomes too! Joshua received the help he needed. He went on to treatment and dealt with his childhood wounding. He became a new man. When his wife Susan saw his change, she has mixed feelings. He was a personal she no longer recognized.
You may be surprised that if your intervention is successful and the person in your life finds freedom, that will be a struggle too. It will almost feel like the pain you’ve experienced is invalidated and they move on happy and free, while you are still trying to pick up broken pieces.
The best thing you can do for yourself is be honest about what you need right now. If you find hope and healing, you’ll be able to help ____________ walk the pathway of healing too. But if you stay locked in a sense being victimized, you may fight against their well being. While this may seem to be uncommon, it’s actually more common than not. The majority of divorces happen when the addict gets sober. The best way to prevent this is for both family and addicts is to acquire support systems in recovery.
Where to go next
As you’ve focused on the intervention needs of the person with addiction, God is focused is intervening with you. As absurd as it may sound, the very difficulty of this situation can be a doorway of a deeper and more fulfilling life. The level of hurt you experience is the level of grace and healing that God can pour into you.
This is a season for you to develop self confidence and a strategy to live above the addiction’s grip over you personally. There are resources to help you. If you are in a strained marriage, you’ll have to make very difficult decisions. It’s going to require painful boundaries. But you can do it! You don’t have to be a victim of someone else’s poor choices. God can empower you!
Do you feel alone?
You may feel that you’ve been thrown onto an island. You may feel isolated in the shame and lack of acceptance of addiction by your friends and family. That’s why you need to know something – addiction is unbelievably common. There is 100% change that others you know are going through the same thing you are but are too afraid to admit it. Addiction is so common, that everyone you meet will most likely know at least one addict.
Did you know that?
- Over 15 million people abuse or are dependent on alcohol
- Over 20 million people are abusing illicit drugs
- Over 40 million people are involved in internet sex and over 10 million have an addiction
Yes, addiction is far from unusual and you are far from alone. But you feel alone. That’s why your number goal is to be connected with those who know what you feel and won’t judge you.
Ask for Help
There are countless family support groups through 12 step anonymous programs such as Al-anon. Celebrate Recovery is also expanding across the country and the world, offering you a Christian perspective. Search local listings for these programs.
New Life Spirit Recovery has an outreach ministry that seeks to offer resources to those who need coaching through this process. We have chaplains and counselors who have been worked with countless others to navigate this process
If you need to talk to an admission advisor regarding a treatment program for someone you love, please call us directly at 866.543.3361. We have a team of professional interventions that can assist you immediately and help you develop a plan. If we can’t help you, we’ll find someone who can.
Additional Resources through Spirit of Life and New Life Spirit Recovery.
Breaking Point Intervention Coaching
We will assess and help you develop a plan specific to your situation including boundaries and all the steps discussed in this article.
Christian Families In Recovery: A guide to intervention through God’s tools of Intervention
Complete workbook process of the addiction and treatment process. Purchase through Amazon
The Christian Codependence Workbook and Workshops – From Surviving to Significance
Extensive workbook specifically addressing the nature and removal of codependence. Purchase through Amazon.
Codependence Recovery Workshops
Education and healing workshops based on the previous listing. www.spiritofliferecovery.com
New Life Spirit Recovery Treatment Program
Professional affordable treatment program for addiction. 30, 60 and 90 day programs.
Outpatient counseling for non-substance needs
This entire book was modified based on the material from Christian Families in Recovery. We encourage you purchase the entire workbook for a comprehensive approach.