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What Happens After an Intervention?

A drug or alcohol intervention is a powerful tool that is often used as a last resort for individuals who have tried everything else they can think of to help a loved one who is struggling with addiction. An intervention can be held for any compulsive addiction including drinking, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, internet or computer addiction, and eating disorders. The end goal of an intervention is to try and get the addicted person that there is indeed a serious problem for which help is needed, and to give the intervention participants a sense of knowing that they have done everything to possible to help the addict.

The belief that the addict must reach "rock bottom" or will only quit if they want to is a myth. This has caused many individuals to forego receiving the help that they desperately needed, and they are no longer with us as a result. While an intervention is often held once the individual's addiction has reached a crisis point, it can also be used at any stage of addiction to interrupt the progression of the problem. The sooner the problem is addressed the better, and an intervention is an effective way of doing that.

Individuals closest to the addict will often feel that they are being disloyal to the individual by holding an intervention on their behalf. This couldn't be further from the truth. An intervention is done out of love and concern, and it shows the addict that people do still care about them, enough to do anything in their power to get them the help they need. Family members and friends must learn to stop bailing the addict out of trouble and to stop covering up for them, as this just enables their destructive behavior. The best show of love is to tell them that their behavior will not be allowed to continue, and that they must get help before it is too late.

A professional interventionist can be acquired who has the skill, knowledge and experience in the intervention process and can guide intervention participants each step of the way. Intervention participants will become knowledgeable about addiction and the steps that will be taken during and following the intervention. Each participant will be directed to author a sincere letter that will be read to the addict at the intervention, which gives specific facts about how their addiction is adversely affecting everything and everyone around them. The addict will be asked to accept the help that is being offered, which is an immediate departure to a drug or alcohol rehab that has been prearranged for them.

If the individual accepts treatment, they have thankfully had a moment of clarity and will leave immediately for drug or alcohol rehab. Intervention participants should be prepared to handle any objections that arise, whether real or imagined, that the addict might use as an excuse to not immediately leave for treatment. These things can often be anticipated, and the intervention participants can work together ahead of time to prepare for these things and ensure all logistics are in order. Intervention participants should be vigilant in keeping the focus on the overall goal, and not give in to petty excuses or reasons why the individual cannot leave for treatment right away. Any hesitation to do so can put the addict at risk of going on a binge prior to leaving. This is very common among addicts as they know they will not have access to drugs or alcohol for some time, which could have disastrous consequences.

If the individual does not accept treatment, there needs to be consequences put into motion immediately to stop the destruction that is being caused by their behavior. The addict cannot be allowed to destroy others' happiness because of their choices, and intervention participants must make a firm pact to communicate and enforce the consequences if the individual does not accept treatment. These consequences are often referred to as "bottom lines", and intervention participants should only read their bottom lines if the individual refuses to go to treatment. Likewise, intervention participants who feel they will not be able to follow through with their bottom lines should not participate in the intervention. These bottoms lines are not meant as a threat, but to show the addict that everyone that loves and cares about them are no longer willing to enable their habit. Examples of consequences are not supplying the addict with money to fund their habit or lifestyle, not supplying them with a place to live if someone is doing so, taking legal action as necessary to absolve the addict of any parental rights, etc.

More often than not, an intervention will have success in getting the addict in treatment. The first step of treatment, if the individual has become physically dependent to drugs or alcohol, is a professional drug or alcohol detox. Some drug rehab programs do this in-house, and some require this to be done in a hospital setting prior to arrival at the drug rehab. Individuals will endure different types of withdrawal symptoms during this time, and extreme drug or alcohol cravings. The length of time it takes an individual to detox and get through withdrawal depends on several factors, including which substance they are detoxing/withdrawing from, the length of time they have been using the substance, dosage, and overall physical health.

Withdrawal from certain substances, particularly alcohol and a category of pharmaceutical drugs known as benzodiazepines, can be fatal and should not be done without direct medical supervision. During alcohol withdrawal the individual may experience convulsions which may cause delirium tremens, which can cause disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, and hyperactivity. Heart attacks, grand-mal seizures, and stroke may occur during delirium tremens (any of these can be fatal). In the case of benzodiazepines, withdrawal symptoms can lead to delirium, seizures and grand mal seizures. Seizures resulting from benzodiazepine withdrawal can also result in death. Individuals undergoing an opiate detox will also have a rough go of it, as the withdrawal symptoms associated with this type of detox can be particularly gruesome. All types of detox and withdrawal can be overcome with the appropriate level of care that can only be offered in a treatment setting.

While in detox, treatment staff will work to address any medical issues, nutrition deficiencies and health concerns and conduct a comprehensive evaluation. Treatment staff will do whatever they can to ease and treat withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Individuals will be in detox for anywhere from 3 days to a week, and while there can take advantage of counseling, activities and other services offered at the drug rehab program they are enrolled in if they are up to it. During detox, many drug rehab programs will limit the addict's contact with family and friends so that they can focus on treatment.

Overcoming drug or alcohol withdrawal and getting through a detox is just the first step of treatment. Detox in itself is not considered "treatment", and is considered about as effective as doing nothing at all in addressing the true causes of addiction. Years of studies reveal that addicts will relapse if no treatment is sought after detox. However, at the end of the detox process the individual will now be prepared to think better and more clearly, and get onto the most crucial steps of the treatment process.

At a drug or alcohol rehab facility the addict will benefit from being amongst other individuals who are going through similar situations and having similar challenges. Professional drug treatment counselors are armed with the tools necessary to help individuals address all areas of their life that present challenges to their recovery. While in rehab Individuals will typically take part in both individual and group counseling to enable them to learn more about themselves, others and addiction. Through counseling and other treatment techniques, individuals will develop coping skills and better solutions to problems in their life, so they don't have to solve them with drugs or alcohol. Treatment counselors will typically encourage the individual to pinpoint things which will need to be eliminated from their lives once they leave treatment such as certain drug-related associates.

The most successful long-term outcomes are a result of a strong aftercare plan which will ensure that individuals steer clear of things which would cause them to relapse. Drug treatment counselors can develop such a plan with the individual prior to program completion, and typical plans may include halfway house living, outpatient treatment, 12-step meetings, check-ups with counselors and other steps which would enhance the progress they've already made.

If the individual requires even more structure as part of their aftercare plan, a drug treatment counselor may recommend a stay at a sober living facility or halfway house upon completion of treatment. This type of facility helps individuals during the re-acclamation period from drug rehab to the real world, and provides a transitional residence so that they could be reintroduced into society. Individuals who do decide to transition to such a facility will typically continue to take part in individual and group counseling and benefit from being in a drug-free safe environment which can provide the support they need during this sensitive time.

Overcoming addiction is no easy task, and it can take several months if not years for an individual to become stable again. The sooner the individual begins treatment, the sooner they and everyone involved can get their lives back. Everyone involved has nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the effort to help the addict during their time of need. If they don't accept the gift of treatment, at least those concerned can know that they did their part to ensure that everything that could possibly be done to save them was done. The intervention participants can then get their own lives back, because they will hopefully no longer enable the addict's destructive behavior in their lives.

In the end, it is the addict's responsibility to make the right choice. It is no one else's fault if they choose drugs over their health, their families, their job and ultimately their life. Hopefully, someone loves them enough to hold an intervention on their behalf and offer them treatment. The rest is up to the addict themselves. If an intervention is something that you are considering, contact a drug rehab in your area to get the ball rolling so that you can help someone you love. The process of recovery can start today for everyone involved.