Intervention and Ending Drug Intake — Stage 1

mother-and-daughter-interventionIf someone you love has a drug addiction – take heart. There are plenty of addiction specialists available to help your friend or family member get back on the right track.

More often than not, someone with a serious addiction will need to take part in an inpatient treatment program in a rehabilitation facility. Before that process can begin, however, the addict will need to actually make it to the facility in the first place. That’s where you come in, as the loved one of someone who is suffering from addiction.

Staging an Intervention

How to begin a drug abuse intervention?

You can start an intervention with a drug addict by simply sitting down with someone you love and discuss about his or her addiction issues. Another method is to carefully plan and stage an intervention with the help of the people who are close to the addict.

How to plan a drug abuse intervention?

To have a successful intervention with a drug addict, the following guidelines will help:

  • Don’t be confrontational
  • Explain that you worry for their health and safety
  • Know your goals: to make them understand that they need professional help
  • Be prepared for any reaction

When you see interventions played out in movies and TV shows, it’s usually a grand production. A large group of friends and family members gather around with a huge sign and surprise the person when they come home from work, or maybe the bar. Then, everyone takes turns reading letters they’ve written to the addict, detailing what they love about him and how the drug or alcohol use has changed things between them.

While this is one way to go about it, an intervention can also be as simple as you sitting down with someone you love and having a serious discussion about his substance abuse.

Whether you make it into an assembly of people, or you have an intimate heart to heart, there are some things you should keep in mind to ensure your intervention’s success:

  • Don’t be confrontational – You’re probably hurting. You may have been disappointed, let down, and even verbally assaulted by the addict while he was under the influence. This has undoubtedly left some scars. But if the goal is to get the person to listen, going out with guns blazing isn’t the way to go about it. You need to approach him with compassion and concern if you want him to listen.
  • Explain how you Feel – That said, just because you don’t want to go on an attack doesn’t mean you can’t let the person know you’ve been hurt. Let him know that you love him, and that you want him to return to the person he was before the drug abuse started. Explain that you worry for his health and safety as well.
  • Know your goals – Make sure you know what you’re asking for when you stage the intervention. Let the addict know what you want him to do with the information you are providing – namely, enter into a rehabilitation facility to get professional help for his addiction.
  • Be prepared – You should be prepared for whatever reaction you might get. In some cases, the addict will break and agree to enter rehab willingly. In other cases, you may get a chillier reception. Still, in other instances, the addict may agree to enter rehab to get you “off his back” or to make you happy, but he may not be ready to take the program seriously. This is still a step in the right direction.

While it is often assumed that those who enter rehab unwillingly cannot be helped, this is false. Many addicts who enter rehab by court order or in some other forceful way complete their programs and go on to become clean and sober.

Entering an Inpatient Facility – Detoxification

When your loved one first checks into an inpatient facility, he will be likely to be given a physical to determine whether he has any underlying medical conditions, or if he has medical conditions that are already diagnosed, he may need to be checked for a worsening of symptoms or any potential for complications during the detoxification phase.

In many cases, caseworkers and physicians in a detox facility do not want friends or family members present during the initial stages of treatment. This is for many reasons, but primarily because they do not want the patients to be distracted by outside stimuli. They need to be surrounded by professional addiction specialists, and kept in an environment with as little stress as possible. Although you care for your loved one, you may inadvertently post a distraction, or put undue pressure on him to recover to avoid letting you down. Remember that even though you love him, this is his process, and he has to take things at his own pace.

During the detoxification process, the addict will go through withdrawal symptoms in many cases. The severity of withdrawal symptoms and the exact symptoms present will depend on the drug used, as well as how severe the addiction. They may include:

    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Headache
    • Sweating
    • Disorientation or confusion
    • Dizziness
    • Mood swings
    • Agitation
    • Anxiety or depression
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Runny nose
    • Cramping
    • Muscle aches
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Insomnia
    • Stroke
    • Seizures
    • Heart attack

These symptoms are serious, and could even be life-threatening. Despite this, most patients come out of the detoxification stage without harm, provided they have the proper guidance and medical interventions. For these reasons, detox shouldn’t be attempted while at home. In some cases, medications are needed to keep symptoms of withdrawal under control.

Sometimes withdrawal symptoms will begin very shortly after the last dose of drugs or alcohol. In most cases, they will begin within twenty-four hours of the last dose. The severity and duration of symptoms will depend on several factors, including the drug to which the person is addicted, how severe the addiction was, and the addict’s general health.

Next Steps – Preparing for Rehab

Once the detoxification stage is complete, patients are usually evaluated to ensure they are medically stable and handling things well. In some cases, ongoing medical support may be needed. For instance, those with a dual diagnosis will require medical care, counseling, and other therapies to help with the mood disorder as well as the addiction itself.

When the entire detoxification process is complete, the patient is then ready for rehabilitation to begin.

Can you force an addict to go to rehab?

If an addict is forced to undergo a rehab, such as through a court order, they can also become clean and sober if he completed the program. This is contrary to the belief of some, that those who enter unwillingly rehab will not be helped.

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