Love First Intervention Model
Arguing can be an exhausting endeavor. If you have a family member or friend who is suffering from the disease of addiction, you probably know this already. How many times have you confronted your family member about their drug or alcohol use and abuse, only to have the situation escalate into a screaming match – or worse, the conversation begins as a fight because you have become so frustrated with the entire situation you immediately lose your temper? What if there was another way to approach a confrontation with your loved one? What if you didn’t have to yell, and you were able to say what you wanted to say without all the drama?
The Love First intervention model is designed to provide just that – a calm method of addressing your loved one’s addiction. This type of intervention that is free of negative or accusatory statements is becoming the new method of intervention for many families.
Jeff and Debra Jay developed this new idea for interventions just over a decade ago, believing that family members do not have to be humiliated or forced into treatment. In many cases, loving them is enough, and an organized and very well-planned intervention can show the addict how much their family and friends care about their well-being.
*Would You Allow Your Family Member to Fight Cancer Alone?
Addiction is a disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a recurring, chronic disease of the brain which has specific characteristics or symptoms, just like any other disease. If your family member were suffering from a heart condition, cancer or some other treatable disease, you would bend over backwards to help them. Addiction is also a treatable and manageable disease. Your loved one may only need your help to overcome the cravings associated with addiction, once they have completed their treatment program. Here are a few things you can do to help your loved one fight this deadly disease:
- Be available. Make sure he or she knows that you can be reached anytime, day or night, if they need to talk, or if they need you to stay with them so they won’t use drugs.
- Provide transportation. If you would drive a friend with cancer to receive their chemotherapy, why wouldn’t you drive your friend to group therapy or individual therapy sessions in an outpatient treatment program? Providing transportation to support groups and other important appointments can erase common excuses an addict may use to stop treatment.
- Offer encouragement. We can never hear enough about how proud our family and friends are of us, right? The same is true for your loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Don’t forget to let them know that they should be proud of themselves, and that you are proud of them.
- Offer physical help. Does your loved one have a child that will need care while they are away at a treatment center? Offering to shelter and love their child will take away an obstacle to seeking help, as well as reassure your loved one that their child will be in good hands.
Rehearsing for the Main Event
The Love First intervention design has a distinct pattern that is crucial to its success. The team members selected to participate in the intervention must be willing to dedicate themselves to the entire process, which can take weeks to prepare.
During the planning and training phase of the intervention, the team members will practice overcoming the addict’s objections. For instance, if the addict says they can’t enter a treatment center because they will lose their job, let them know that you have already discussed the needed time off with their employer. If the addict says they have nobody to watch their children, reassure them that a family member or close friend (preferably someone on the intervention team) has already agreed to tend the children for as long as it takes. A trained and experienced intervention specialist can be of great help during this process. They have heard and seen it all when it comes to objections, excuses and reasons not to go into a treatment facility. Overcoming these objections in a calm and rational manner is something that should be rehearsed many times.
The Essence Is Calm
Remaining calm is what makes the Love First approach to intervention different from more traditional confrontational techniques. In the Love First model, each participant writes a letter. This way, the heated emotions that may surface are kept until strict control. Participants do not “ad lib” their letters; they do not add or subtract from them.
Additionally, the addict may become violent. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some drugs can cause violence either during use or if the addict is suffering from withdrawal during the intervention. Your loved one may interrupt the presentation of the letters, for instance, with arguments, anger, swearing or other obstructive behavior, but the participants should remain calm. When the addict has finished their outburst, the individual who has the floor continues to read from the point at which they left off before the verbal attack.
*The Letter Is Key
One of the most important aspects of the Love First intervention technique is the letter each member of the team writes to the addict. The letter is read aloud during the intervention, but prior to that date, it is tweaked, edited and re-tweaked until it is concise and clear. The team member will read it aloud many times in practice sessions so they can deliver the contents flawlessly on the day of the actual event. The letter includes several key features:
- The introduction of the letter reminds the addict of the good times – how you met, the fun you shared, and the challenges you’ve overcome together.
- The middle part of the letter expresses the love the team member has for the addict. There are no accusations made – no blame or guilt. The letter simply reinforces that you love the person and that you want to help them, not hurt them.
- The end of the letter is more like a promise. In this part of the letter, you reinforce how much you love your addicted loved one, and you let them know that you will be there for them throughout their battle for sobriety.
The Back-up Plan
While the Love First approach to intervention does not embrace a confrontational approach to dealing with your loved one’s addiction behaviors (there are no accusations or the placing of blame), it does share one intrinsic aspect with other interventions. The Love First model includes consequences and ramifications.
In addition to writing a letter to the central participant, each team member will create a document separate from the letter that explains in detail what the consequences will be if the addict refuses treatment. It is important that the individual creating the document is up to the challenge of their promises. It is easy to write that you will no longer provide monetary assistance because you can’t be certain that your loved one isn’t spending the money on drugs. It is quite another to watch your loved one lose their home because they have been unable to pay their rent or mortgage.
It is also important to remember that not all ramifications are financial. If you decide that your children should not be exposed to the pain and influence of someone who suffers from addiction, you must live up to your promise and not allow the addict to see them. This is difficult, albeit important, to uphold, even when your children ask to see the addict.
Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best
The back-up plan is a last resort to be used if the addict does not choose to accept the offer of treatment. The possibility exists that your family member will agree to treatment earlier in the process. If this happens, the session should end immediately and your loved one should be taken to the treatment center as quickly as possible.
It is possible that the team members who did not have a chance to read their letters may feel as though they have not achieved closure. Keep in mind that all of the letters should be sent to the treatment center ahead of time so they are part of your loved one’s file. The addict will have the opportunity to see all the letters while they are there, should it be appropriate. The important part of the Love First approach is that the intervention team places the well-being of their addicted loved one ahead of themselves and their own needs.
*Tips to Planning a Successful Intervention
Most individuals are not experienced in the planning of an intervention. Here are a few tips to help you through the process:
- Hire an intervention specialist. A professional has the experience and training to help you cover all your bases without being too close to the situation.
- Find a treatment center before you hold the intervention event. If you wait until your loved one agrees to get help, it may be too late to find a suitable place on a moment’s notice. Be sure they have somewhere to go before you ask them to go there.
- Check with insurance. If your loved one’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost of addiction treatment, ask families and friends for donations or small loans to help defray the costs of admission to a treatment facility so that excuse is off the table before the main event.
Planning an intervention using the Love First intervention model may be the answer you’re looking for when it comes to saving the life of someone you love. If you have any questions about how to help your loved one or where to seek treatment, please contact us today.