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What is the family intervention model? The new ideas surrounding intervention about the wellness of the whole family does not use surprise tactics or attacks. Instead, the addicted person is apprised of every aspect of the intervention and invited to every meeting. Generally, a Systemic Family Intervention takes place over 2 or 3 days during which time, the family unit learns about old behavior patterns and how they affect everyone in the family.  They learn new ways to communicate and how to institute change that can last for the rest of their lives.

When you choose to implement the Systemic Family Intervention techniques with the help of a professional intervention specialist familiar with them, the entire family is considered the identified patient, or the focus. There is no blaming or accusing, no letter writing or rehearsing as with other models. Instead, the whole family sits down in a group therapy setting and discusses ways in which the individual who is suffering from addiction might be helped.

After the intervention workshop is completed and treatments have been obtained, a follow-up meeting occurs. There may be more than one follow-up meeting over the course of the months following the treatment to revisit any lingering issues.

Addiction affects the entire family. Not only are family members subjected to the erratic behaviors of their drug- or alcohol-addicted loved one, but their own behaviors and personalities may change as a result of the addiction in the family. For instance, studies have shown that the children of alcoholics or drug addicts are more likely to use drugs themselves according to NIDA for Teens, a division of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  The stress associated with having a family member addicted to drugs can lead to anxiety or depression, both of which have been linked to dual diagnosis conditions that are common among drug addiction patients.  It is a vicious circle of disorder that does not stop with the addict.

If the effects of drug and alcohol addiction are not limited to the afflicted member of the family, should treatment be limited to only the one individual? That is the question asked and answered by the Systemic Family Intervention model.  This new twist on the traditional confrontational and Love First techniques changes the way an interventional specialist plans and carries out an intervention.

Systemic Family Intervention for Other Addictions

When we hear the word “addiction,” we often think of drugs or alcohol, first and foremost.  There are, however, many other types of addiction that can have a negative effect on the entire family unit.  A few of these addictions, according to the founder’s website for Systemic Family Intervention, are:

  • Gambling.
  • Sex.
  • Food.
  • Compulsive disorders, such as shopping or Internet use.

Before and After

The old models of intervention were contingent on surprise.  The addicted member of the family or social group was, quite literally, ambushed by his or her friends and sometimes badgered and other times convinced to enter a treatment program immediately.  The new ideas surrounding the intervention for the wellness of the whole family does not use surprise tactics or attacks. Instead, the addict is apprised of every aspect of the intervention and invited to every meeting.

Generally, according to the program developer’s website, a Systemic Family Intervention will take place over 2 or 3 days.  During this time, the family unit will learn about old behavior patterns and how they affect everyone in the family.  They will learn new ways to communicate and how to institute change that can last for the rest of their lives.

One example of this type of behavior pattern might relate to guilt.  When a teenage drug addict sneaks out of the house to get high with their friends, then returns to the home hours later, just before dawn, their sibling who shares the bedroom may be well aware of the activity. When the sibling confronts the addict, the addict may beg and plead with them not to tell.  Worse, they may threaten to harm their sibling to protect their habit.  The sibling is left with possible feelings of guilt when they agree to keep the secret.  Through a Systemic Family Intervention, the sibling will learn how to overcome the learned impulses to “protect” the addicted sibling by informing the parents about unhealthy behaviors.

Whose Intervention Is It, Anyway?

Another significant difference between the old and new style of intervention is the determination of what is known as the “identified patient.” An identified patient, particularly in the mental health or drug addiction treatment setting, is the person for whom the treatment is designed.  Who is receiving the therapy?  Who has the “problem”? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the identified patient is the one the family holds responsible for the existing issues – essentially the one to blame.

When you choose to implement the Systemic Family Intervention techniques discussed here by hiring a professional intervention specialist familiar with them, the entire family is the identified patient. There is no blaming or accusing – no letter writing or rehearsing as with other models.  Instead, the whole family sits down in a group therapy setting and discusses ways in which the individual who is suffering from addiction might be helped. In each of the meetings, the addict is asked to enter a treatment facility that can help them detox and stop the use of the life-threatening drugs that has taken over their lives. In addition to discussing the addict’s issues, the whole family will address their own issues.  In this way, the addict can also see the effect their disease has had on each family member, first hand.

The family dynamic does not end if the afflicted family member agrees to join a rehab program.  Rather, the family will continue to work on their own issues, whatever they might be, in order to be in better shape to help the recovering addict when they return to the family unit.  The family will also prepare themselves to participate in whatever capacity they may need to, such as family week or family therapy sessions at the treatment center, in order to help the process along.

What to Expect From a Systemic Family Intervention

The first step to any intervention is the planning.  Some families choose to use a professional interventionist, while others may choose to work on their own.  When you choose to treat the entire family using the family model, an intervention specialist is required to complete the tasks appropriately.  Therefore, step one is the phone call to the intervention specialist of choice, according to an article published in Counselor magazine.

Once arrangements have been made for an initial meeting, several family members will meet with the professional and discuss details of when and where the meetings will take place.  These meetings are referred to as a workshop.  One of the family members will be elected, and trained, to approach the family member who suffers from addiction about attending the workshop meetings.

It is important to note that the addicted individual does not have to attend the meetings.  Since he or she is not the single identified patient in this type of intervention, the family members should continue with the meetings to learn new coping skills and address any mental health issues they may have as a result of the addiction problem in the family.

Prior to the workshop dates, each of the family members will be asked to attend a group, self-help meeting, such as Al-anon, AA or NA.  Homework is important because there are a limited number of hours per day that the family will work with the intervention specialist, so there may be reading and studying involved that should be done in advance.

Once the preparation is completed, the family will attend the workshop.  Each family member will be asked to seek treatment for whatever conditions or disorders might be discovered.  For instance, the addict will be asked to seek treatment in a rehab center.  Another family member may be suffering from severe stress, and they will be asked to get treatment for that condition.  Still others may have anxiety or depression.

Finally, after the workshop is completed and treatments have been obtained, a follow-up meeting will occur. There may be more than one follow-up meeting over the course of the months following the treatment to revisit any lingering issues.

To find out more about this type of family intervention that can help your family deal with addiction issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can also connect you with a treatment center that can help your loved one finally address their addiction.

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