By Patrick Bailey
Addiction is a chronic disease that impacts the physical, mental, and psychological well-being of an addicted individual. Apart from slowly ruining their lives, people with substance use disorders also negatively affect their family and society, whether they are aware of it or not. The most effective way to stop the addiction and bring their productive lives back is to get into an addiction treatment program immediately.
If you have a family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, not doing anything, or hoping that the problem will go away, is not helpful to your loved one. You may be inclined to believe that your drug-addicted family-member may simply just be losing his way, and you trust that he will soon find his path and kick the destructive habit for good.
When it comes to addiction, the issue is not about trust, but about getting the help your loved one needs. The longer your family member abuses illegal substances, the more difficult it is for him to recover. Instead of waiting for your loved one to realize that he or she needs professional help, you and the rest of your family can plan an intervention.
What is an Intervention?
No matter how great your intentions are, your addicted loved one may not be willing to seek treatment. This is fairly common, since most people who struggle with a substance abuse disorder often are in denial and unable to recognize the devastating effects of their addiction. Such cases warrant an intervention to help them realize the effects of their substance abuse.
An intervention is a carefully planned process carried out by family and friends to ultimately help the drug-addicted family member get professional addiction treatment. The process usually involves confronting your drug-addicted loved one about the effects of his or her drug abuse, and pleading with him to get help immediately.
An intervention is usually carried out with the help of a neutral, third-party who helps manage the entire process. This third-party may be a counselor, therapist, or a professional interventionist. While they are the usual people who are asked to assist during interventions, some families seek the help of a family mediator.
What is a Family Mediator?
A family mediator is someone who helps people resolve disagreements with family issues such as marriage, separation, divorce, child support, parenting, schedules, and other similar cases. Family mediators help settle family disputes in a manner that promotes understanding, communication, and trust.
Family mediators are professionals who, essentially, are trained in conflict resolution skills. Given these skills, and the end goal of intervention, it is not surprising that family mediators are now tapped to help during an intervention process.
Why Use a Family Mediator in an Intervention?
If you are planning an intervention process for your drug-addicted loved one, you may want to consider getting a family mediator to assist you during the process, for the following reasons:
1) To Foster Understanding
Imagine the scenario during an intervention process: You and the rest of your family, along with your closest friends and relatives, are all telling your drug-addicted loved one the various negative consequences of his or her drug use and how she needs to get professional help immediately. Wouldn’t you feel that everyone is ganging up on you? Do you think that the intervention process will have a chance of succeeding, given this scenario?
Without a family mediator acting as a neutral third party who can explain the purpose of the entire meeting, your drug-addicted family member can easily construe in a negative way whatever you are doing. Keep in mind that drug addicts also suffer from a shame condition, which means that they think that everyone around them is against them.
A family mediator can help ensure that the drug-addicted member understands the purpose of the intervention and sees your good intention. Having a mediator around also assures the drug-addicted loved one that the entire process will be carried out without bias.
2) To Manage the Process
No matter how much you prepare the things that you must say and that you should not say, there is a great risk that you and the rest of your family and friends will eventually speak without inhibition, especially when emotions are running high. There is also a tendency for some members to dominate the conversation and not allow the drug-addicted member to have the chance to speak.
Having a family mediator during intervention can prevent chaos and keep the focus of the process on its goal. A mediator will keep the discussion in control and ensure that everybody can say their piece – including your drug-addicted loved one. When there is a third-party present, there is a tendency for people to be more selective in the words they use and to listen more attentively.
3) To Encourage Trust
Having a family mediator around can effectively open the lines of communication among everyone present. Verbal attacks, emotional blackmail, and other tactics that will not help the process, will be kept in check. The drug-addicted member can trust the process, knowing that nobody in the room can physically or verbally attack him or her.
4) To Resolve Pressing Issues
Perhaps one of the advantages of using a family mediator, rather than other addiction professionals, during an intervention is that a mediator can assist in resolving specific family issues related to the family member’s addiction. A reputable family mediator can do the following:
A. Prepare a child custody and control document, in the case that the drug-addicted father or mother dies of an overdose, or is put behind bars.
B. Prepare a written agreement on living arrangements, if the drug-addicted member refuses to seek professional help, but commits to quitting the use of drugs or alcohol on his or her own.
C. Prepare an agreement which includes a clause saying that the drug-addicted spouse should seek addiction treatment immediately, or will be agreeing to a separation or divorce.
D. Prepare needed documents to protect the family’s assets (e.g., vehicles, real estate properties, etc.), so that the drug-addicted member will not be able to sell any of these things to get drugs.
E. Establish trust funds or other financial solutions to protect the interests of minor children.
Seeing a loved one succumb to drug or alcohol addiction is heartbreaking. If you have done all the heart-to-heart talk that you could, but the drug-addicted member is hardly improving, it is time for a more focused strategy. Get the help of a family mediator to help you and your family hold a formal intervention process.