The Role and significance of Family Alignment in Addiction Intervention

When a family chooses to do a professional intervention to help a loved one with alcohol or drug addiction, it is usually because they have tried everything else and feel they have no other option. These are families in crisis. Over the years, the addiction has damaged not only the addict but the family and friends who have dealt with the chaos the addict has created. It sometimes worsens to the extent that treatment for addiction recovery involves the entire family.

Addiction tends to run in families, so the addict in crisis might not be the only one dealing with drug or alcohol issues. By the time the family seeks out an interventionist, patterns of co-dependency and enabling have been cemented. This means that although some family members may feel committed to the intervention, the risk for unintentional sabotage of the process is high.

These families are fragmented people and have different opinions. The intervention is as much about the families as it is about the affected individual. They are in as much crisis. One of the goals of the intervention process is to help families understand the difference between enabling the addict and a responsible relationship.

The addict is the master of illusion. They will look for the family member who might buckle during the intervention and try to manipulate them. For that reason, it’s critical that all family members feel like part of the greater good. You can only do that by truly assessing and understanding the family. If you don’t do that, you could unknowingly become co-dependent with the family, putting yourself and them in danger.

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Family Alignment in Addiction Intervention

Counselors systemize ways to get families to start to align by first assessing for immediacy and risk, i.e., someone at imminent risk for hurting themselves or other people. The next step is to give the family an opportunity to talk about the situation so the counselors can determine if it is an appropriate case to be handled.

Once that occurs, they conduct an in-person meeting or a conference call where all the family members can ask questions and talk about their experience. This helps counselors to start to organize the intervention as they start to hear their personalities and understand their relationship to the addict.

Once all questions have been answered, the family takes the time they need to make the decision to move forward. If the family decides to move forward, they fill out a pre-intervention worksheet. Counselors explain to them the rules of engagement to sets out the appropriate behavior in the intervention to make it effective and prevent escalation during the encounter. Once a date is set, they fly out to wherever the family is located and hold a pre-intervention meeting, something like a rehearsal.

Counselors transport the client to treat and manage them while they are in an organized treatment environment and beyond. The alignment the interventionist creates especially pays off during the first ten days of treatment. The addict will kick up a lot of dust the first week in treatment.

The alignment of the family allows each individual to work with the whole toward the goal of recovery. It is critical when hiring an interventionist to ensure her or she has the training and skills that will enable them to align the family appropriately so that the intervention has the best possible chance of success.

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