June 12, 2022

How an Invitational Intervention Can Help Your Family

Read time: 7 minutes

In many situations where an individual is struggling with substance abuse, their family members are the first ones to recognize the need for a change. Perhaps the individual is having difficulty holding down a job because of the amount of alcohol they consume. It may be the case that this person needs to frequently borrow money or stay with family and friends because of financial troubles associated with their drug use.

A variety of factors may signal a problem, but once the issue is recognized, you might not know what to do about those concerns. Will talking to your loved one about their substance abuse end in disaster? Is it cruel to cut them off, or is it worse to continue enabling them? When you and your family are considering these questions, it might be the appropriate time for an intervention.

Inviting Your Loved One to Work With You

The idea of staging an intervention can be intimidating. While there are uncomfortable aspects to bringing your concerns to the forefront and persuading someone to seek treatment, interventions should not undermine relationships; rather, they should capitalize on the love and positive emotions within your family.

You may be familiar with the notion of a surprise intervention, where the family comes together and confronts the identified loved one about their substance abuse without prior warning. While this is one route to helping someone get treatment, it might not work for everyone. That is where the invitational intervention can come into play. This process involves inviting your loved one to cooperate with you from the beginning. Addiction can take away a person’s sense of control and leave them feeling helpless. That is why it is important to take any opportunity you can to empower them and encourage them to take an active part in their treatment and future.

Research about follow-through with treatment shows that invitational interventions might provide a buffer against dropping out because of the presence of consequences. Treatment adherence is generally highest for people mandated by a court to use recovery services and is generally lowest for individuals who choose to admit themselves to treatment without any outside influences.

For the first group, the cost of stopping treatment is high, as it might mean becoming incarcerated and losing their freedom. This creates a situation where treatment may not be a person’s first choice, but the alternatives are so negative that there is significant motivation to persevere.

In the second group, the initial motivation to seek treatment is high, as the individual has made up their own mind about the costs and benefits and is focused on changing. As time goes on and the threat of relapse looms, however, these “self-referred” individuals might realize that no one is there to hold them accountable and there are no external consequences if they quit treatment and return to substances.

Avoiding Resentment

Between the two extremes of court-mandated treatment and self-referred treatment exists the middle ground that you and your family might be in, where the identified loved one’s social network realizes they need help. In this situation, approaching the issue the right way can impact compliance with treatment down the line.

In traditional interventions where someone has reached “rock bottom” and is persuaded by the family that they have no alternative but to seek help, that person might relapse because, after a while, they desire to reclaim control and not let other people dictate their actions. By including your loved one in the decision-making process, this resentment can be avoided.

Family interventions are an important tool in the recovery process because families affected by addiction tend to be closer-knit than families where addiction is not present. This strong sense of commitment and belonging can be beneficial when it comes to convincing your loved one to seek treatment.

What Does an Invitational Intervention Look Like?

If you are considering having an intervention with your loved one, it is important to work with a licensed clinician who can guide you through the process and increase the chances of engagement with treatment. There are many moving parts that require professional support and guidance. Through coaching and preparation, a clinician can help turn an inherently confrontational situation into a conversation prioritizing care and commitment.

The process is usually kicked into motion when you, as a concerned family member, identify the problem and decide that something must be done. You may be at the forefront of the intervention and work with the clinician to dissect family dynamics and understand the situation. A genogram is often used to collect information about the relationships in the family, intergenerational patterns, and enabling behavior.

With this information, the intervention network is assembled. This group consists of concerned loved ones who will meet regularly to discuss the substance abuse, its effects on the family, and ways to improve the situation. Rather than keeping these meetings a secret, the group will invite your loved one to the meetings in order to have an open dialogue.

During these meetings, the intervention network will explore the idea of treatment, offer support, and establish boundaries and consequences. The clinician may also work one-on-one with the group members, including your loved one. The idea is to let them accept help in a non-judgmental and supportive atmosphere.

When you are first considering an intervention for someone you love, the task can feel daunting. You may have doubts about whether or not it will work or fears about how it will impact your relationship with your loved one and other members of the family. That apprehension is natural, but it doesn’t have to stop you from having that difficult conversation. Family-Centered Services can work with you every step of the way to start your family on the road to recovery. Our experienced clinicians will meet with your family to learn about your unique situation and use that information to develop a personalized plan. We understand that the same approaches don’t work for everyone and substance abuse treatment looks different for each client, and that is why we invest time in your family before treatment even starts. Give us a call at (509) 991-5822 and let’s get started.

Adam and Jenny helped us understand what our role is, and how to best help our son and ourselves.

Devon & Lisa Rathdrum, ID

Break the cycle of addiction

As trained professionals who have personally experienced interventions and long term recovery, we know what it takes to break free and how to bring healing and hope to families. Get in touch with us below.