Helping a loved one escape the clutches of addiction can be one of the most difficult processes a family will ever go through. Each year, millions of people struggle with drug abuse, addiction, and dependence. Many will look to intervention. An intervention guided by a licensed clinical professional is the most effective way to begin the process of recovery.
But not all interventions succeed.
Here are a few of the most common reasons why interventions fail:
1. Family and loved ones of the addict fail to achieve consensus. There is often one “weak link” in the family group that is either inconsistent, too lenient, or both. Also known as a “chief enabler,” the problem person creates conflict among the other vital members of the group.
2. Over-trusting the input of the addict whose judgment and credibility has degraded over time. Families must trust themselves and be decisive. Addicts have learned to deceive everyone, themselves most of all. Families who recognize this have the greatest chance of moving through an intervention successfully.
3. Taking early acceptance of nominal improvements in the addicted person’s statements and behavior as signs that the intervention has worked, and that the addict is recovered. Addicts will always “seek the path of least resistance” before they have adequately internalized self-direction and self-control. This is characteristic of early recovery, generally for at least one year.
4. Unresolved emotional conflicts within the family or support group. An addict, skilled in the art of manipulation, will pounce on any emotional conflicts within the family and use them to deflect attention from the problem at hand. Intervention will inevitably stir up interpersonal family issues. But these issues must not be allowed to derail the process.
5. Failure to invest the proper amount of time, energy, and financial resources up front. Many families facing addiction often want to skip the book and read the Cliff’s Notes. But there are no shortcuts to recovery. And while intervention may seem expensive, the long-term costs of addiction are astronomical. The cost of a funeral alone averages $8,000.
6. The addict’s simple refusal to accept help. Most addicts only want help on their own terms. Like it or not, it’s up to the addict in the end. And he or she may not be ready for recovery.
David Petersen, LCSW, LAC, January 19, 2016