Family Resource


How to plan an interventionAn intervention is often the best way for someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction to begin their path to recovery. People struggling with substance abuse are often suffering from denial about the extent of their problem, so hearing firsthand how their actions have affected their loved ones can serve as a wake-up call.

This article outlines how to plan an intervention that will motivate your loved one to seek the help he or she needs.

Create an Intervention Team

An intervention planning team typically involves a small group of concerned family members and friends. However, you should not include anyone in the planning process who does not get along well with your loved one, is known for having an uncontrollable temper, or who is also suffering from an untreated substance abuse or mental health issue. It is vital to the success of the intervention that everyone be able to work together for the good of your loved one.

A healthcare professional such as a licensed counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist may be necessary if your loved one has a history of mental illness and/or violent behavior. A professional can help you structure the intervention to reduce the risk of an aggressive outburst or self-harming behavior.

If your loved one’s faith is an important part of their life, including a pastor or religious leader may be appropriate.

Gather Information

Once you have assembled your intervention team, take time to discuss the specific addiction-related behaviors that are concerning you. This might include:

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Changes in eating habits characterized by weight gain or weight loss
  • Sleeping significantly more or less than usual
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble at work or school
  • Difficulty remembering important details
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or socializing

Ask each person on your intervention team to write down the specific behaviors they’ve witnessed, as well as how this has made them feel. You can use these notes to make sure everyone stays on track during the intervention meeting.

Research Treatment Options

After you present your loved one with an expression of your concerns, you’ll need to present your request for treatment. Research counseling options and inpatient rehabs in your area to determine what is appropriate for your loved one’s needs. Contact your insurance company to learn more about applicable health insurance benefits for substance abuse treatment.

Your goal is to be able to provide your loved one with a pre-arranged treatment plan that includes clear guidelines, steps, and goals for taking control of his or her addiction. Someone struggling with substance abuse may not be thinking clearly enough to make these decisions, so taking control of deciding what steps are necessary is a compassionate way to express your concern.

Decide on Consequences

The ideal outcome for an intervention is that your loved one will accept your request to get help. However, you must be prepared to be met with a denial of the problem and a refusal to listen to your request.

Each person on the intervention team should decide what the consequences will be for refusing treatment. This may include steps such as no longer being allowed to have unsupervised visits with children or grandchildren, cutting off social contact, or being asked to move out of the family home.

Hold the Intervention

It’s a good idea to schedule an intervention for the time of day when your loved one is least likely to be impaired by drugs or alcohol. In many cases, this means planning the meeting during the early morning hours.

When you hold your intervention, the meeting should be structured as follows:

  1. Everyone individually shares examples of behavior they’ve witnessed and how these actions have caused problems–expressing their concern without becoming judgmental or accusatory.
  2. The group presents the person with a prearranged treatment plan.
  3. Each person shares what consequences they’ve decided are appropriate for refusing to accept substance abuse treatment.
  4. The group asks for an immediate decision as to whether or not treatment will be accepted.

If the offer of help is accepted, you should be prepared to have the treatment begin immediately. If you’ll be using the services of an inpatient rehab facility, this means you should have a bag packed and be ready to transport your loved on to the facility when the intervention is over.

If treatment is refused, the members of the intervention team must be prepared to follow through with the consequences they’ve agreed to. This can be emotionally trying, but is a necessary part of the process.

By Dana Hinders

adult children of alcoholicsAdult children of alcoholics are often described as “co-victims” who develop many of the same characteristics associated with alcoholism, even if they’ve never taken a drink themselves. If you’re struggling to come to terms with the trauma you suffered due to a parent’s drinking, read on for tips about how to begin the healing process.

1.Realize That It’s Not Your Job to Save Anyone but Yourself

Many adult children of alcoholics feel an intense need to “save” others. Growing up, they may have been forced to comfort younger siblings, cook meals, and handle other adult responsibilities while a parent was struggling with addiction—leaving them to feel as though the weight of the world rests squarely on their shoulders. They also fear abandonment, which makes them stay in unhealthy relationships instead of moving on to find someone who treats them with the respect they deserve.

Change can be scary, but you are worthy of healthy relationships. It’s okay to cut ties with friends or family members who are using their toxic negativity to prevent you from taking the steps you need to be happy. These people don’t support your desire to change because they’re not emotionally ready to take a step forward in their own lives.

2. Accept Your Emotions

The majority of adult children of alcoholics struggle to express their emotions, especially the anger they feel surrounding their childhood trauma. One of the first steps in the healing process is giving yourself permission to express how you feel about your past as well as your current circumstances.

One way to become more emotionally honest is by writing down your thoughts in a journal. Then, gradually work on opening up with others in your day-to-day life. Instead of pushing down your irritation when a friend stands you up for your planned movie night, tell her it upsets you when you make plans and she abandons you at the last minute. If your spouse promises to help with the laundry and spends the night watching TV while you do all the chores, tell him you feel unappreciated when he ignores your request for assistance.

3. Use Affirmations to Stop Self-Criticism

Growing up in a home environment filled with dysfunction can lead you to believe that you’re somehow flawed. Young children often blame themselves for family troubles, creating patterns of self-criticism that last long into adulthood.

Affirmations are a form of self-suggestion. Choose a few positive statements that reflect your new outlook on life or specific goals you want to work on, then repeat them to yourself several times per day until they become your new truth. If desired, you could also write your affirmations down and place them in locations throughout your home where you’re sure to see them.

Some affirmations that may resonate with adult children of alcoholics include:

  • I am choosing to be proud of myself and all that I’ve accomplished.
  • I can find inner peace within myself as I am.
  • I deserve wonderful things.
  • I am in charge of my own life story.
  • I am worthy of love and respect.

4. Give Yourself Permission to Have Fun

Adults who grew up with parents who struggled with addiction often complain that they find it hard to relax. Their brains are programed to expect stress and drama, leaving them constantly on edge.

Developing hobbies and special interests is an important part of being a well-rounded human being. Take the time to explore whatever personal passions you’ve always thought were too frivolous. Enroll in a dance class, learn a foreign language, take up oil painting, or plant a garden of fresh produce to add to your gourmet home-cooked meals. No matter what sparks your interest, strive to find at least a few hours each week to devote to the pursuit of fun.

5. Know You’re Not Alone

The stigma surrounding addiction may make you feel like your experience is unusual, but you’re not alone. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency estimates that about one in eight people in the United States is an adult child of an alcoholic. Finding a network of support through Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) can help you work on building a brighter future for yourself. ACoA’s support groups are based on a modified version of the 12 steps for addiction recovery used in Alcoholics Anonymous. Al-Anon Family Groups are another excellent option to consider, since they have groups for spouses or partners, teens, and adult children of alcoholics.

 

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This observance, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), stresses the need for education regarding alcoholism and addiction recovery.

At St. Joseph Institute, we stand together with NCADD to encourage an open and honest conversation about the risks associated with underage drinking. In this post, we’ll outline six tips for talking to your teen about alcohol use.

1. Begin the Conversation as Early as Possible

It’s best to begin talking to your children about alcohol use in the upper elementary grades. Statistic indicate that about one-third of young people have begun experimenting with alcohol by the end of eighth grade, with boys reporting their first drink at 11 and girls reporting their first drink at 13. This is troubling because children who start drinking before 15 are five times more likely to abuse alcohol later in life than those who begin drinking after 21.

Of course, it’s never too late to start discussing the risks of underage drinking. Older teens still need your guidance as they navigate the challenge of becoming independent young adults.

2. Promote Positive Relationships

Friendships play an important role in helping kids develop their own unique sense of self. Making an effort to get to know your child’s friends can help ensure that these relationships stay positive. Encourage your teen to invite friends over to your home regularly—using snacks, movies, video games, and music to create a welcoming atmosphere.

It’s also important to maintain contract with the parents of your teen’s friends and establish that they share your values in regards to underage drinking. Do not allow your teen to attend parties where there will be no adult supervision or to spend time at homes where alcohol is readily accessible to minors.

3. Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Kids who are involved in sports, music, drama, and other extracurricular activities are better equipped to resist the pressure to drink because they’ve seen firsthand that alcohol isn’t necessary to have a good time. If your child is struggling to find a suitable activity at school, consider searching for volunteer opportunities in the community, such as working at an animal shelter or the public library.

Getting a part-time job may also be an option for older teens. Work experience teaches time management skills, teamwork, and responsibility. All of these attributes will help your teen make wise decisions in the years to come.

4. Stress the Risks

Pop culture often portrays drinking as a harmless way to relax and have fun. Talking to your teen about the darker side of alcohol use helps put the issue in perspective, especially if you can provide context in regards to portrayals of underage drinking in your child’s favorite movie or television show.

NCADD has a fact sheet with underage drinking statistics that can provide a starting point for discussing the risk of making poor decisions while intoxicated. Risks for teens include getting into fights, having unprotected sex, suffering from alcohol poisoning, or being involved in an auto accident.

5. Be Honest About Your Own History

If you’ve struggled with alcoholism or you’ve seen the consequences of a family member’s drinking problem firsthand, don’t be afraid to share this story with your teen. You don’t need to provide every intimate detail, but these personal stories are often a highly effective way of getting a teen to recognize the dangers associated with alcohol use.

It’s also important for your teen to know that having a family history of alcoholism puts him or her at a higher risk of developing similar problems. Genetics isn’t destiny, but abstaining from underage drinking is the best way for your teen to stay safe.

6. Know the Warning Signs

Drastic changes in academic performance, decreased personal hygiene, neglecting responsibilities at home, and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities are some of the signs that suggest your teen may have a drinking problem. Depression, mood swings, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating are also cause for concern.

If your teen has already been experimenting with alcohol, encourage him or her to take the self-test for teenagers on the NCADD website. This simple questionnaire evaluates a teen’s risk factors for problem drinking, providing you with a baseline to determine if further services are needed.

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