What are Reverse Interventions?
A reverse intervention is a conversation or meeting where someone struggling with substance abuse tells family members or loved ones about their decision to seek treatment. Admitting that it’s time to get help can be difficult. It may also require your honesty about substance abuse for the first time.
A reverse intervention is an open discussion with your loved ones about the extent of your addiction. Ultimately, the goal is to gain your loved ones’ support, whether this means asking them to take over some household or family responsibilities during your stay in rehab or simply requesting their emotional support throughout the process.
Beyond the difficulty of starting a reverse intervention, it may also be met with resistance. Spouses or significant others are sometimes hesitant to support their loved one going away to treatment if it means they’ll be left at home to care for the children or manage household responsibilities on their own. In addition, some family members may have lost trust in their loved one throughout the course of an addiction, so they may not be convinced that treatment will work.
On the other hand, friends or family members who are still using drugs and alcohol may fear their loved one getting sober. Sometimes, when someone chooses to get treatment, it can mean cutting ties with family members and friends who are still abusing substances. In these cases, the term “reverse intervention” may actually refer to negative reactions from people who try to convince you not to seek treatment.
Some people living a sober lifestyle have reported that friends will try to convince them to keep drinking alcohol or even go so far as to give them a list of reasons to keep drinking. This is an example of how this discrete form of a reverse intervention may look.
Admitting You Need Help For Drug or Alcohol Abuse
While it can be difficult to admit that you need help for drug or alcohol abuse, it is a vital step towards recovery. If other people in your life are using substances, you may be convinced that your use of substances is entirely normal or acceptable.
Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse can be problematic and lead to an addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), you may have developed an addiction if you experience symptoms of a substance use disorder (the clinical term for addiction to drugs or alcohol):
- Using larger amounts of drugs and alcohol than intended
- Experiencing strong drug or alcohol cravings
- Using substances despite their contributions to a health problem
- Continued abuse of drugs or alcohol, even when it causes physical danger, such as driving under the influence
- Being unable to reduce or stop drug or alcohol use
These symptoms suggest that you have lost control of your drug or alcohol use and continue to use substances despite serious consequences. There are additional signs and symptoms, depending on whether you’re using alcohol or different drugs. If you display some of these symptoms, it’s time to admit you need treatment to recover from addiction.
One important thing to remember is that addiction is a legitimate medical condition. It causes changes in the brain that can negatively affect a person’s ability to think rationally and make decisions, leading to impulsive behaviors and compulsive drug-seeking. Like any other medical condition, addiction requires treatment, and this is a critical fact to bring into the conversation during a reverse intervention.
When Your Decision to Get Sober is Not Supported
Even when you’re ready to admit that you need help for an addiction, your decision to get sober from drugs and alcohol may not be supported. Family members may not support your choice to enter treatment because of the stigma or shame associated with addiction. Research has shown that close family members tend to feel negatively judged by others when someone in the family has an addiction. Admitting that you need treatment can make your family members feel as if they will be viewed negatively.
On the other hand, friends or loved ones who have abused substances with you may fear losing their relationship with you. They may worry that your personality will change and you won’t be the same after getting sober.
If your decision to seek treatment is not supported, it is important to remember your reasons for getting sober. You may want to restore your health or escape the unpleasant side effects of drugs and alcohol. You may want to be a better parent, spouse, son or daughter. You may want to return to having a career and being financially stable. Whatever your reasons, remember you are seeking treatment for a legitimate medical condition, and you are worthy of recovery regardless of what others say.