There’s not much you can do to prepare yourself for the fear, anger and pain that accompanies learning your child has a drug or alcohol addiction. Substance abuse affects the whole family, and the best way to help your child get the help needed to recover is to thoroughly educate yourself.
The more you know about addiction, the better you can help your child come to terms with their addiction, find helpful resources, choose the right treatment program and become involved in your child’s treatment and aftercare in the most effective ways possible.
This 14-part series is designed to help provide you with the information you need to face this struggle and help your child and your family find the path to recovery.
The Steps of an Intervention
Although there are a number of different types of interventions, the most commonly used is the Johnson model, which starts with education and ends with the intervention meeting.
After the intervention team has been adequately educated, each member will write a letter to your child, beginning and ending on a positive note. The letters will explain how the addiction has personally affected each team member, and they will express hope for a better future. One or more team meetings will be held during which you’ll rehearse what you’re going to say.
In addition to writing a letter, each member of the team will choose a consequence for your child in the event he refuses treatment. The consequences must be realistic, and each member must be prepared to follow through with them. These may include refusing to give your child financial support, asking him to move out of his living situation or refusing to be in the vicinity while he’s using.
Before the intervention meeting is held, your professional facilitator will help you find an appropriate treatment program for your child and schedule an admissions appointment for the day of the intervention. If your child agrees to treatment, he’ll go straight from the meeting to rehab.
On the day of the intervention, your child will be asked to the meeting site under a pretense. Once there, each team member will speak directly to your child or read him their letter and explain the consequences they’re prepared to follow through with. After everyone has spoken, he will be offered the chance to enter treatment right then and there.
The Next Steps
If your child agrees to go to rehab, your support during treatment and afterward will be essential for improving the chances of successful recovery. It will be important for you to engage in family therapy, individual therapy and a support group in order to fully understand and address the ways in which the addiction has affected you, other family members and the family as a whole.
Restoring function to the family system, curbing enabling or codependent behaviors and improving communication within the family will go a long way toward initiating and facilitating the healing process for everyone involved.
If your child refuses treatment, continue engaging with your own therapy and support group to improve the chances you’ll be able to help your child agree to treatment down the road. Above all, hold out hope that your child will eventually be ready to get help and restore her life.
Hope is the foundation for recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and believing your child has the capacity to recover and that she will seek help at some point will help you foster that hope in her own heart.
“When Your Child Has an Addiction” Continues
In the next entry in this series, learn about medically supervised detox and traditional and alternative therapies commonly used in treatment. Continued in “When Your Child Has an Addiction, Part 12: Understanding Treatment and Recovery”.