When to Intervene: How Much is Too Much?
Despite the devastating damage that the pandemic has caused, addiction is still one of America’s biggest threats. According to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 10% of US adults have or will struggle with addiction (source). Of those 23 million people only 25% received care for their use disorder.
To combat this drawn-out crisis, we need to work with and within our communities to recognize and help those struggling. Although, it can be hard for those of us who aren’t experts on the matter to know where to start. Interventions have been a proven method to break someone out of the addiction cycle, but they can also backfire and worsen the problem. Our addiction intervention services in VA are rooted in our years of experience in helping those struggling with addiction come to terms with it and guide them to the next step.
Here are some signs that someone is struggling with addiction, and how to start planning a successful intervention.
The Warning Signs
As one can imagine, addiction to different substances can produce completely different effects. Here we will be looking at addiction to alcohol, opiates, and amphetamines.
Drinking is a huge part of modern Western society. It can accompany food to enhance the flavor, or it can be part of an after-work ritual to wind down. Regardless of the reason that people decide to drink, it’s accessible and socially acceptable to use this substance. This is a big part of why alcohol is so dangerous.
Sadly, there is no definitive guide to noticing alcohol abuse, but there are some common symptoms:
- Using alcohol to “feel normal”
- Experiencing black-outs and/or memory loss
- Prioritizing drinking over responsibilities
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Extreme mood swings and irritability
Opiates come in many shapes and forms, some much more sinister than the others. It’s not uncommon for people to start taking opiates in the form of painkillers for an injury, to then get hooked.
Although they may not be as socially acceptable or accessible as alcohol, opioid addiction has been at epidemic levels for years. Look for these signs:
- Taking painkillers unnecessarily often or in unnecessarily large doses
- Mood swings, especially from elated to hostile
- Borrowing medication from others or “losing” their medication to seek more
- Trying to get the same prescription from multiple doctors to build a stash
- Poor decision-making, especially putting themselves of others in danger
These can be considered the least accessible of the three drugs mentioned here. Although, like opiates, they can come in a prescription form, and the addiction often starts there.
Common amphetamines like Adderall and Dexedrine can help treat Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and can be beneficial especially to students.
However, when abuse of Adderall turns into use of methamphetamine there can be serious health risks involved. These are the symptoms of amphetamine abuse:
- Increase in anxiety, insomnia, or the development of paranoia
- Loss of appetite and in some cases extreme loss of weight
- Breakdowns in close relationships
- Mis-using amphetamines either intravenous (injecting) or insufflation (snorting)
- Long-term use can cause memory loss
Planning the Intervention
Noticing any of these symptoms alongside the substance in question is the first step in planning the intervention. There are several elements to consider before intervening with your family member, friend, or colleague.
Build the Right Team
An intervention is often done with a group of people, usually known or well-known by the addicted individual. Where possible, hiring an intervention expert can greatly improve the chance of a successful intervention. Although choosing people close to the individual that are willing to go through this experience and are emotionally-prepared can work too.
Choose the Right Time
Avoid doing an intervention when the person in question is under the influence of the substance they’re addicted to. It may be hard to find a time when they are sober, but if they aren’t then the intervention almost certainly won’t work.
Know What to Say
Each individual involved should plan what they’re going to say, and to avoid an accusatory tone or attacking them. Make it clear that the intervention is a non-judgmental space where they should feel like they can be honest. This can be emotional for all parties involved, and is a key element to a successful interventionist.
If you need help planning what to say consider hiring an intervention expert or do some research online into what has worked for others.
Plan for Different Outcomes
People suffering from drug use disorders tend to be more unpredictable than those who aren’t. An intervention can be similar to forcing a wild animal into a corner, and one should expect a variety of different reactions including rage, despair, and confusion.
Ideally the individual should go to treatment straight after the intervention, but be prepared to compromise if that seems impossible.
Intervention Services VA
When you contact us for our addiction intervention services in VA, we will coach you through our strategy. Interventions as stated can be very tricky, and they can either work well or backfire. Here are some key points to planning an intervention. If this seems like an impossible endeavor, there are intervention specialists who can guide the entire process.
Remember that interventions are the most impactful the first time, so if you’re unsure about anything, get in touch to make it count.