Drug addiction and substance abuse can be seen in nearly every community across the country. Families coping with substance abuse often live through chaotic times that can end up dividing the family. Millions of families suffer through this issue every year without knowing what to do. It is astonishing that so many are coping with this issue, yet they are unaware of how to get help. The negative connotation that addiction has in this country makes it difficult for those who need help to ask for it. Addiction has been seen as a problem of choice; an issue of poor choices or weak character. New studies and research has provided a much deeper understanding of what addiction is and how it is caused. Addiction is incredibly complicated and difficult to overcome. The issue is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and consuming, which alters the way an individual’s mind functions. Overcoming addiction as a family is also difficult, but it starts by confronting the issue. Many families choose to conduct interventions to accomplish this and systemic family intervention is one option.
Systemic Family Intervention
Systemic family interventions can help families who suffer from a variety of addictions. Most people that addiction is unique only to controlled substances like alcohol or drugs. The truth is that individuals can be addicted to a number of different substances and activities. This type of intervention can be useful in addictions to gambling, sex, food or other compulsive disorders. Any family battling any type of addiction should consider employing this strategy of intervention to help.
The old models of intervention are rather popular. Thanks to the reality television show ‘Intervention’ many Americans are familiar with the surprise attack of the old model of intervention. It involves several family members and friends who trick an addict into meeting them in a ‘safe’ location. At this predestined location the family airs their grievances to the addict. They share their fears and heartache. The idea is to show the addict that their addiction does not only affect their own life, but rather it has a resounding effect on all those around them. The end game, of any and all interventions, is to get an addict to accept some form of treatment and enter a program immediately. This surprise attack of intervention is a popular series because it is entertaining; not all interventions must be a surprise attack nor do they all get hostile or even physical. Systemic family intervention does not follow this surprise model. The new model follows a pattern that looks to help the entire family. This model of intervention takes place over a two or three day period and works towards building a better communication and understanding atmosphere for the family. Families learn about behavior patterns and their effects on the family. For example, teenagers who sneak out to get high with friends and return just before dawn must rely on siblings to lie or keep secrets from family members. Some teenagers may even threaten the sibling. These feelings of guilt and even resentment can carry on for years. This type of intervention is geared to empower those siblings to not be taken advantage of and speak up. They will no longer feel that need to ‘protect’ the teenager and do what is right.
What to Expect
Preparation is the most important part of any intervention. Families interested in conducting a systemic family intervention should contact an intervention specialist to help them plan. The family meets and discusses the issues they wish to raise during the intervention and practice. Anyone who cannot handle the intervention, whether too young or hostile, should be excluded. The family should set a safe, comfortable meeting place for the intervention. Family members are encouraged to visit an AA or NA meeting to hear from other recovering addicts. After an addict accepts treatment the family should continue to follow up on progress with the addict and their own issues.