Holding a Family Intervention for Your Loved One

Most parents would do just about anything to protect their children from harm. But if your adult child is battling a substance use disorder, you might be feeling like you’re at a loss for how to help them before they seriously hurt themselves or someone else.

If your loved one is refusing to seek care for the substance use disorder they are struggling with, holding a family intervention might encourage them to get the addiction treatment they need.

Why Individuals Avoid Treatment

Being the parent of an adult child who is suffering from a substance use disorder can be exceptionally challenging, especially if you’ve tried to get your loved one to enter treatment but they come up with excuse after excuse to not go. Perhaps they’ve told you that the addiction treatment facility is too far from home, the program is too expensive, or they’re just not ready to go.

The underlying message behind these excuses is most likely that the drug or alcohol your loved one has been abusing has changed the way their brain works, and that makes the very idea of treatment scary. Their brain now responds very differently to substances compared to the brains of people who aren’t suffering from a substance use disorder, causing them to have physical and emotional reactions to the substance they have been abusing. For them, getting help isn’t as easy as it seems.

But that doesn’t mean recovery is impossible, and the longer your adult child goes without treatment for addiction, the higher the possibility that they’ll experience serious long-term consequences. You can’t force your loved one to enter treatment, but holding a family intervention can set the stage within your family culture to show your loved one that their health and well-being are important to the people closest to them.

What is an Intervention and How Are Interventions Used?

An intervention provides a safe space for you to talk to your adult child about how concerned you are for their health and future. Family members can also offer specific examples of how their loved one’s behavior has affected them. State facts rather than emotions so that you avoid making your loved one feel attacked or ashamed. If you expect emotions to run high throughout this process, there are experts, such as counselors, therapists, and interventionists, who can help facilitate the intervention.

A family intervention is most effective when family members educate themselves about the substance use disorder their loved one is battling before the intervention takes place so that they have a better understanding of what their loved one is going through. Have information about an addiction treatment facility on hand, but be prepared for your adult child to continue to refuse treatment. If this happens, keep expressing your love and support, but lay out consequences that you must be willing to follow through on in the days and weeks to come.

Staging an Intervention

Remember that you do not need to go through this process alone. There are professional organizations, agencies, and addiction treatment facilities that can help you plan, rehearse, and implement a family intervention so that you achieve the best outcome for your family and your adult child. Your loved one might not be ready to seek help for the substance use disorder they are struggling with right now, but holding a family intervention lets them know that you are there to support them when they are.

Marks of Quality Care
  • FBI National Academy Associates
  • Higher Education Case Management Association (HECMA)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval
  • The Jason Foundation