Drug & Alcohol Intervention - When An Addict Is In Denial

By Midwest Detox Staff

MD Stacked color Logo

Addiction is one of the toughest obstacles to tackle, because most people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol simply refuse to admit that they have a problem. This state of denial is extremely common, and it’s challenging for friends and family to make their loved ones face reality. If you’ve ever watched television shows or movies involving drug or alcohol abuse, you’re probably familiar with the concept of an “intervention.” While interventions do involve a direct conversation about substance abuse, real-life interventions don’t always resemble what you may have seen on TV.

If you know someone who is struggling with addiction and you’re planning a drug or alcohol intervention, you’ll want to educate yourself on the best practices and what to actually expect during the intervention process. In this guide, we’re going to answer a lot of important questions about alcohol and drug abuse interventions, such as: What happens during a drug addiction intervention? Could staging an intervention do more harm than good? Finally, where can you go to get professional help for a drug or alcohol addiction?

Continue reading to learn the answers to these questions and understand more about staging interventions for addiction:

In This Article
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    How Interventions Work

    The most important part of staging an intervention is planning well in advance. You should never try to have an intervention without preparing yourself and any others involved. Instead, you may need to work for days, weeks, or even months to plan an intervention for alcoholism or drug addiction. However, timing is key, as you won’t want your loved one’s addiction to worsen as you plan. Therefore, you should take the time to plan an alcohol or drug addiction intervention properly, but you should also make it a top priority so that you don’t wait until it’s too late.

    The planning stages of an intervention for drug abuse (or alcohol abuse) should generally follow the same process:

    • Speak to a Professional - You should never try to do an intervention alone if you have no experience or training. Instead, you should reach out to a professional drug abuse counselor or specialist in addiction interventions to learn about the nature of addiction itself. This person can help give you valuable knowledge and teach you effective communication strategies to use once the intervention begins.
    • Choose Who to Involve - You don’t want to shame or humiliate your loved one by inviting everyone they know to their intervention. At the same time, you will want to include the people who are most important in their lives, as long as those people do not actively support or encourage their addiction. Carefully choose who will be part of the intervention “team.” It’s best to stick with close friends and family who care about your loved one’s well-being.
    • Involve a Specialist - In addition to speaking to an intervention specialist at the beginning, you should also have them actively involved in the planning process. They can help guide the process along, plan the intervention, and even train everyone involved in how to use the proper language and strategies.

    The Intervention Process

    There are different approaches to how an intervention can take place. It doesn’t need to be a “surprise attack,” as this could actually backfire and have terrible consequences. Your intervention specialist will advise you on the best approach to take. In some cases, the intervention may simply involve a few conversations, in-person or over the phone, between the specialist and your loved one. If your loved one is resistant to the idea of an intervention, it may be necessary to stage an in-person intervention where you, your team, and your specialist address the loved one in person, with or without prior notice.

    Generally, an in-person intervention will involve discussions about the concerns each person has with the loved one’s addiction. People may use specific examples to illustrate the severity of the addiction or how it has directly impacted their lives. The specialist will guide this process to reduce the risk of a breakdown in communication. Ideally, the intervention will involve participants setting boundaries about behavior that they will and won’t accept related to their loved one’s substance abuse. Lastly, the interventionist will suggest the best treatment options and, if all goes as planned, the loved one will agree to pursue some form of treatment.

    It’s also important to follow up an intervention with ongoing encouragement and support. An individual may say that they want to recover when confronted by friends and family, but they might later go back on their word. For this reason, you should follow up and continue to encourage treatment options recommended by the specialist. You should also make it as easy as possible to facilitate entry into a detox center or rehab clinic.

    Dealing With An Addict In Denial

    Dealing with anyone who is in denial about something is difficult, and it can be even more difficult when a person’s view of reality is distorted by drugs or alcohol. Here are a few tips to help you deal with an addict in denial:

    • Approach the situation with a sense of understanding and empathy; pointing fingers or making the person feel ashamed will not magically help them have a revelation about their addiction
    • Ensure that the intervention takes place in an environment in which the person can feel calm and comfortable; ideally, the space should be private and far away from prying eyes and ears
    • Use phrases like “I feel…” to let the person know how their addiction has affected you; avoid statements of judgment like “You should…” or “You need to…”
    • Do everything in your power to keep things civil and avoid confrontational interactions
    • Listen to what the person has to say and don’t disregard their thoughts and feelings
    • Offer support, without enabling continued substance abuse

    The Role Of Addiction Intervention Specialists

    We’ve already discussed what addiction intervention specialists can do before and during the intervention process. However, it’s important to understand just how vital they are to a successful intervention. These people are specialists for a reason. They have studied and worked with addicts, often for many years, and they know the strategies that work. Just as importantly, they know the strategies that don’t work.

    The role of an addiction intervention specialist will generally cover four primary responsibilities:

    • Help to plan and coordinate the intervention
    • Educate everyone present on addiction and substance abuse
    • Guide the conversation to increase the chances of a successful intervention
    • Recommend effective addiction treatment at a detox or rehab clinic

    How To Get Help For A Loved One

    When a loved one is ready to receive treatment, the best place to start is Midwest Detox. At Midwest Detox, we can help your loved one recover in a private, discreet, and comfortable environment. Our trained professionals will monitor their condition and provide support to overcome withdrawal symptoms as needed. Additionally, we help teach them about healthy coping mechanisms and practical skills that they can use to continue their recovery.

    Are you in need of a private drug and alcohol detox center to begin your recovery? If so, Midwest Detox can provide everything you need to detox in a safe, comfortable environment. Visit our site or call us directly at 414-409-5200 to take the first step toward sobriety.