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Heroin addiction can feel like a nightmare, and those who suffer from it often cannot escape on their own. Their bodies and minds have been conditioned to need regular doses, and the more they consume, the more difficult the addiction is to overcome. Fortunately, there are ways to help. Though it may be difficult, a heroin intervention may save their life.

To host a heroin addiction intervention, you will want to consult with a professional interventionist who can help you plan, organize, and host the intervention. An interventionist is trained to interact with people who abuse addictive substances and will be able to reign things in if they become emotional or get out of control. 

Before we dive into the specifics of hosting a heroin addiction intervention, let’s discuss how you know when it’s time to intervene on your addicted loved one’s behalf.

How to Recognize the Signs of Heroin Addiction

If a single dose of the opioid drug heroin puts a person at risk for addiction, consider what months or years of repeated use can do to the body. Frequent use of heroin alters brain chemistry and deteriorates the decision-making portions of the brain, and behavioral changes are common among those struggling with addiction.1 

Some people may be able to hide their addiction better than others, but if you take the time to observe your loved one’s behavior closely, you’ll likely notice some distinct changes, such as:

  • Deceptive behavior and frequent lies
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lack of interest in usual hobbies or activities
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Decreased quality of performance at school or work
  • General withdrawal from family and friends
  • Avoiding eye contact (to hide pinpoint pupils)
  • Stealing or borrowing money from family or friends
  • Wearing long sleeves or pants in hot weather
  • Sudden lack of personal hygiene
  • Hostile or violent behavior

Once someone becomes addicted to heroin, finding the next score to satisfy the addiction becomes the focus of their lives. Heroin use also results in physical changes, from rapid weight change to a pallid complexion. As the body attempts to process the drug, it struggles to maintain the normal, healthy processes of the body.

If you recognize these behavioral and physical changes in a loved one, there’s a good chance they need help.

When Is a Heroin Intervention Necessary?

The effects of heroin addiction are not limited to the individual using it. Often, a person who uses heroin repeatedly begins to lose touch with relationships as promises are broken and they withdraw from society. They often cannot escape the cycle of addiction without assistance, and that help can come through an intervention.

An intervention is a meeting between the addicted individual and a small group of people, typically the person’s loved ones and a trained professional.2 Typically, during an intervention for drug addicts, a small group of loved ones joins together in an attempt to explain how the addiction has affected them and to encourage that person to seek treatment.

Since heroin addiction is so deadly, a heroin intervention is always necessary if the addicted individual does not choose to get help on his or her own. Although it’s difficult to confront, the truth is this: if you do not confront the heroin addiction with an intervention, the outcome for the heroin user may be fatal. Timing is of the essence and sooner is better than later.

How to Host a Heroin Addiction Intervention

If you’ve never hosted an intervention, you may be wondering how to host a heroin addiction intervention. Or, you may be asking yourself, “What does the drug intervention process look like?” 

Participating in an intervention can be difficult and emotional, and it may not provide the desired outcome. However, doing nothing may lead to a far worse result. Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after the heroin intervention process.

What To Do Before Hosting a Heroin Intervention

  • Find a trusted and experienced interventionist: A trained professional, whether they are a therapist or interventionist, will know how to guide the encounter so it has the best opportunity to succeed. They are trained to interact with people who abuse substances and will endeavor to keep the intervention from spiraling out of control if tempers flare. By finding an interventionist or therapist who can guide the process, you are setting yourself (and the intervention) up for success.
  • Carefully plan and rehearse: Successful interventions are the result of careful planning and should not be attempted without a trained professional. It is important to rehearse beforehand. When facing a loved one who struggles with heroin, it can be difficult to express the way their addiction is hurting themselves and others. Writing down specific instances, speaking in the first person, outlining the consequences for not seeking treatment, and providing immediate treatment options are important parts of the intervention process. Planning can help ensure that you effectively carry out these things.
  • Thoughtfully time the intervention: It is also important not to attempt the intervention while the person is high. For your words to have an impact, the person must be as sober as possible. This is another reason why having a trained professional present is important: they will know when to engage and when not to. 

What To Do While Hosting a Heroin Intervention

  • Stay calm and follow the plan. During a heroin intervention, there is a high likelihood that things could become emotional. For this reason, it’s extremely important to remain calm and do your best to communicate clearly. (This is where all the preparation comes in handy.) If you need to, read from your script or intervention letter but avoid engaging in arguments with the addicted individual or breaking down in tears. Interventions are difficult for everyone involved but try your best to remain grounded.
  • Focus on responding appropriately. Unfortunately, there are risks to performing an intervention. Because of the physiological effects associated with heroin addiction, the person may feel betrayed and may lash out in anger or fear. If that happens, it is important to give them space to calm down. Once they have calmed down, try again. Despite how hard it might be, it is important not to give up. 
  • Offer specific options for treatment. After you express how your loved one’s addiction has negatively affected you and others around them, offer a few clear options for treatment. That way, if they do decide to get help, they can take action right away, no research or extra time needed before getting started. This will take some time on your part because you’ll need to research potential detox and rehab centers, verify your loved one’s health insurance benefits, or find an alternative payment method, and speak with the staff to make sure it’s a good fit. This may seem like a lot of work, but when someone says they are ready to get help for addiction, it’s important to do so right away.
  • Communicate clear consequences for not getting help. If your loved one refuses to seek treatment, you’ll need to tell them what kinds of consequences you intend to carry out. Examples might be not letting them live with you anymore, not providing them with financial support, or limiting their time spent with younger siblings or family members.

What To Do After Hosting a Heroin Intervention

  • Follow through on the consequences outlined in the intervention. If you don’t follow through on the consequences you communicated during the intervention, your loved one won’t take you seriously and may continue to manipulate you, lie, and get his or her way. Although it’s difficult, stand by the consequences you set forth and show your loved one that you’re serious about no longer enabling their addictive behaviors. Ultimately, although this intervention may not have been successful, it’s a step in the right direction and there is always hope that there will be more opportunities to talk with your loved one about going to rehab.
  • Support your loved one while they are in treatment. If your loved one is open to going to treatment, the interventionist will take care of pre-arranged travel plans and ensure that your loved one gets to the facility safely. Be as supportive as you can to encourage your loved one while they are in treatment. If, however, he or she relapses or decides to leave early, know that the intervention and treatment (although brief) is still a step forward in the journey to recovery. 
  • Find help for yourself. As mentioned above, none of this is easy for anyone involved. If you find that you’re struggling with feelings of guilt, anger, depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issues, you should consider finding a counselor or therapist that you can talk to. Addiction negatively affects so many friends and family members and it’s impossible to deal with it all on your own. A community group like Al-Anon may also help you find healing and support during this challenging time.

Watching loved ones struggle with addiction is terrible, but you should not lose hope. An intervention can be uncomfortable and difficult to perform, but that show of love and compassion may be what encourages them to seek treatment.

We Can Help You Find an Interventionist in Austin or Houston

If your loved one is struggling with heroin addiction and you’re thinking about hosting an intervention, the kind and compassionate staff at Nova Recovery Center will happily connect you with a professional interventionist in Austin or Houston.

We match our clients with professional interventionists based on their financial ability and individual circumstances, so you can help your loved one get the help he or she needs. Additionally, we will present you with options for trustworthy interventionists near you, and help guide you to someone who’s a great fit for you so you won’t feel pressured to make a decision if you’re not ready.

Deciding to take action is difficult, but we are here to partner with you and do everything we can to help your loved one get the care and treatment he or she needs. Please call (888) 857-0557 to speak with a Nova representative today.

References:

  1. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use 
http://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/practice-settings/intervention/johnson-intervention.aspx
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