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Family Interventions For Drug And Alcohol Problems

A struggle with drugs and alcohol among a family member is more common than families realize. Families often attempt to solve such problems on their own through concern of what others may think, attempts to protect their loved one, or the belief that if they try one more time they can convince their loved one to stop.

Such attempts only leave families feeling alone, overstressed, and with diminishing hope. While families could educate themselves on addiction, find better approaches to their loved one, or investigate resources for treatment, this is time consuming for a family who may already be depleted.

This is when the services of a professional interventionist can be invaluable. Read further to learn about addiction, why it is considered a family disease, and why an interventionist is an excellent starting place for help.

What is addiction?

Advances in science and technology have shown us that addiction is very complex. Genetics, psychological stresses, and social practices all combine to make addiction a complicated disease. This helps explain why it is so difficult for families to solve an addiction problem on their own.

Statistics on addiction:

A study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) supports that numerous families struggle with the problem of addiction. In 2016 they estimated that 21.0 million people aged 12 or older in the U.S struggled with substance use. Their past studies show that rates of addiction have only grown over time. Shockingly, NSDUH also stated that only 3.8 million aged 12 or older received any kind treatment for substance use. This highlights the lonely and isolated struggles of family.

Why is addiction called a family disease?

The concept of addiction as a “family disease” honors that it is the whole family struggling from addiction, not just a sole family member. In fact, family may be carrying more than their share of struggle as their loved one is caught ‘chasing the high’ provided by drugs or alcohol. This speaks to the difficulty of convincing their loved one of the need for treatment.

The family disease concept, however, also speaks to the power of the family to be able to ‘do something.’ While It can be hard to convince someone else of the need for change, if the family tries something different from what they’ve done in the past, it can lead to a new outcome. An interventionist can teach the family to do something different. This increases the likelihood of steering your loved one toward treatment.

What is family intervention?

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD, 2018) describes intervention as a professionally-directed, face-to-face meeting with the family, the person struggling with drugs or alcohol, and the professional interventionist. The importance a professional in intervention is in the knowledge and skills he or she brings for motivating the substance abuser to make a connection between substance use and the problems they experience in life. The professional interventionist has specialized knowledge, skills, and ability to present treatment as a worthwhile option to your loved one with greater success. Moreover, the interventionist can come directly to your door and be the first person of contact that can make a difference between continued suffering versus relief.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (2018) supports intervention as highly successful when performed by a person with training and experience. They cite that “over 90% of people make a commitment to get help” in such situations, noting that even if the person refuses help at the time of the intervention, they “come back and ask for help later.”


National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)