What Happens When an Intervention Doesn’t Work?

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A lot of great information exists online for staging a successful intervention. You can follow the tips to a tee, but what happens if the intervention is not successful? What do you do next? Although the best case scenario is to have the addicted person agree to go to rehab, many families are unprepared for what happens if their loved one simply refuses.

As much as we would love to say that interventions are always successful, some are not. That is why we at The RS recommend setting realistic expectations before staging an intervention. Also, families should know that more than one intervention may be needed.

If you recently staged an intervention and it was not successful, what are some of the possible reasons why? What could you do differently if you were to stage another intervention one day? Most importantly, where do you go from here?

First, the statistics. According to data from Family-Intervention.com, interventions are 90 percent successful the day of the meeting. For the other 10 percent that refuse to get help, the possibility of seeking treatment does not end here. The success of this 10 percent getting the help they need is dependent on the family following directions and setting healthy boundaries. Likewise, the other 90 percent are not automatically guaranteed a ticket to recovery. Addicts may back out, change their minds or leave treatment. Again, their recovery is largely based on the family structure.

Another important point to keep in mind is that interventions don’t fail. Instead, it’s the addict who chooses not to follow the instructions of the interventionist. Don’t ever feel like your efforts to stage the intervention were lost. A family has to try, even if their loved one says no.

Let’s move on to some of the reasons why interventions may not be successful.

The addict won’t accept that they have a problem.

An intervention won’t be successful if your loved one cannot be convinced to go to treatment. Usually this happens because the addict is in denial. Remember, your loved one’s brain has been subjected to toxins that alter logical thinking. Even if their behavior is apparent, they may truly believe that they have everyone fooled. In this case, it will take time for the addict to realize that they have a problem, so don’t give up.

The addict hasn’t suffered any serious consequences.

A second point to consider is that the consequences haven’t been dire enough to warrant a stay in rehab. While an addict doesn’t have to reach rock bottom to get help, they are more likely to seek treatment when they suffer some consequences. If your adult child has been living in the basement, using drugs each day and hanging with friends while you pay the bills, do the grocery shopping and manage the home, there aren’t many consequences they’ve had to deal with. This is why it’s very important that you don’t enable. Enabling allows addiction to continue.

The addict is scared of withdrawal.

Withdrawal is one of the scariest aspects of recovery. Some addicts are so terrified from the stories they’ve heard and read that they will do anything to avoid having to go through the same pain and discomfort. Again, you must remember that your loved one isn’t thinking rationally and it may make more sense to them to deny the addiction in order to avoid facing their fears.

If you can break through at a later time, assure your loved one that treatment centers go through great lengths to make detox and withdrawal as comfortable as possible. Here at The River Source we use Vitamin IV therapy, massage therapy, sauna treatments, oral vitamin therapy and acupuncture. We also have conventional medicine to manage symptoms as well as around-the-clock care.

The addict doesn’t connect with the interventionist.

It’s important to have a professional interventionist, mediator or counselor with you on the day of the intervention. This individual will lead the meeting and keep everyone on track with the end goal which is getting the addict to agree to go to rehab. Unfortunately, no matter how qualified or experienced the interventionist may be, the addict won’t take their feedback seriously if they don’t connect with them.

Perhaps you’ve already experienced this in your own life when meeting with a therapist. There are just some people you connect better with and feel more comfortable listening to. Your family member is going to feel overwhelmed to begin with, so think about how they will react to the counselor or interventionist you are working with. Some treatment centers recommend working with an interventionist who is a recovering addict since they can address common fears and concerns.

Don’t Give Up

If the first intervention doesn’t work, don’t give up. An addict will almost always return to using if the family reverts to their enabling ways. You may have to arrange for another intervention at some point, but in the meantime, stop the enabling behaviors so that your loved one does suffer the consequences that go along with long-term drug use. It’s only then that they will be able to understand the true repercussions of their choices, and this will motivate them to want to change.