Are You Ready for Treatment? My Enlightening Conversation With an Interventionist
For an addict, one of the hardest decisions he or she will have to make in life is whether or not to seek some form of treatment. Having to give up the substance or behavior is a big choice, as there is always a part inside asking to keep the addiction. Thankfully, there is also a part that recognizes that continuing as is would be detrimental. For some, this is a lingering knowing – a quiet whisper that gets louder over time. For others, it comes on strongly and at once, most likely a result of a catastrophic incident.
This is a powerful time, a time when someone can either go further into the darkness or realize that they need to find the light.
Evaluating Your Readiness Level
How people end up here varies, but the emotional and mental landscape is the same. It is a time of desperation, loss, and fear – a sense that either choice could result in great suffering. A person who is not an addict recognizes that the choice to stay in the addiction creates a lot more suffering than the temporary pain that one may experience during the recovery process.
Unfortunately, logical thinking is not in the forefront of the decision-making process when someone is using. They are living in the bio-chemical imbalance of a mind and body that is being affected by substance, as well being controlled by unconscious fears related to survival of a different kind. This is why hitting one’s “bottom,” can be a doorway to recovery. For some, it is the only way to become willing to step into the light of recovery.
But what about those who never hit their bottom? Can they be helped? Some believe a person has to be at his or her lowest point in order to be fully ready to recover. Others believe that, through the grace of God or luck, recovery can begin far before a person’s life is in complete ruins. It’s not so much a matter of when a person is ready, but a matter of if they are ready.
In speaking with Britton Turkett, founder of Active Recovery Network, which offers interventions, ‘prehab,’ and in-home addiction primary mental health recovery support, I was able to gain further clarity on the impact of one’s readiness level.
Input From an Experienced Interventionist
Working seven days a week with individuals who are contemplating treatment, Britton has considerable exposure to both the wary and determined mind. He says, “In general, for treatment and recovery, there is no answer that can be given for everybody. Everyone at each turn is an experiment of one.”
Britton is reflecting on the fact that each person has their own path and that readiness level, for some, can come slowly over time. He goes on to say, “Very often with the more difficult client who is not interested in getting clean, I need to team up with the family to find some sort of leverage in the situation. This then becomes what we use to help motivate the client toward treatment.”
This is obviously a very extreme case and not the preferred approach. The hope is that conversations are able to take place based on mutual respect and an authentic connection. Britton shares that it’s important to not create hierarchy and remind people that they are indeed not broken. “The work is really to help people identify the needs they are trying to get met through using, and to explore how to get these needs met in other, healthier ways,” he says.
This line of thinking is critical in my opinion. As a recovery coach, I connect with many people who even after years in recovery, still carry the message of “I am broken.” I believe recovery means that we also recover the truth of who we are as a person, independent of what we think, feel, or do. It means that not only is the substance put down, but that someone can see themselves clearly again, as a person doing the best they can at any given moment in time.
Realizing that the decision to get help is not an easy one, it is important for people to feel that they have someone they can talk to about their feelings, fears, and desires. I hear people say they are looking for someone they can trust who will listen to and understand them, rather than try “fix” them. Transformation often begins with healthy connection. It begins by helping people feel safe enough to let their guard down so that a deeper conversation can take place.
Family Success and Outside Support
Knowing that families are often at a loss for how to support a loved one who seems to be spiraling out of control, I asked Britton what he sees pre-intervention within the family dynamic.
It is hard to know where to draw the line. It is challenging to differentiate what is helping and what is enabling.-Lesley Wirth
He says, “Typically I walk into a family system that is discussing intervention in a way that is not healthy. There is a lot of confusion – role confusion – and often times, people overstepping their bounds with good intention, but this ends up making the situation worse.”
This is a common scenario where everyone is doing the best they can, while simultaneously feeling out of control. It is incredibly painful to watch someone you love put their life at risk. It is hard to know where to draw the line. It is challenging to differentiate what is helping and what is enabling.
I see the greatest family success when there is a willingness to get outside support. This can look differently for every family. Sometimes there needs to be an interventionist or mediator involved in those beginning phases. For other families, what works best is family therapy, individual therapy, or Al-anon. Again, just as there is no one right way for the individual, there is no one right way for the family.
What I have seen that rings true for every family that I have encountered, is that each person looks inside at their own emotions and patterns, rather than solely focusing on the person using.
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