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When to Stage an Intervention

These four signs can guide the process.

By DeAnna Jordan | Contributor
Nov. 28, 2016, at 6:00 a.m.

If you have a gut feeling that staging an intervention is the necessary next step, it’s probably time for you to gather your loved ones and determine the best interventionist to suit your needs. RAZYPH/GETTY STOCK IMAGES
Your loved one is suffering from addiction or alcoholism, and he or she seems to have hit the point of unmanageability. You most certainly cannot handle the excessive mood swings, the drug paraphernalia or alcohol bottles lying around the house, and the constant infringement of your personal and family boundaries.

Or maybe your loved one is silently suffering, but you notice a distinct change in behavior and it breaks your heart to know that your child, spouse or friend is in pain.

How do you know when it is an appropriate time to intervene?

While there is no black-and-white answer, there are a few signs to look for both internally and externally.

[See: 14 Ways Alcohol Affects the Aging Process.]

Sign No. 1: You acknowledge that an intervention may be necessary.

The first and most important sign that an intervention may be the necessary next step is when you acknowledge that an intervention cannot further harm the situation.

In most therapeutic practices, from cognitive behavioral therapy to dialectical behavioral therapy and even psychotherapy, acknowledgment and acceptance of the present situation is the goal of treatment.

When a person’s addiction places nearly tangible stress and tension on their relationships and their environment, the addict’s loved ones have two choices: acknowledge and accept that their loved one has unknowingly succumbed to the disease of addiction, or hold their breath and cross their fingers for the best possible outcome.

Unfortunately, the disease of addiction is debilitating, and far too often in this industry I see young and talented adults and successful men and women lose their lives to the crippling disease of addiction. It can happen in just a short period of using drugs and alcohol to numb.

If you have a gut feeling that staging an intervention is the necessary next step, it’s probably time for you to gather your loved ones and determine the best interventionist to suit your needs.

[See: 7 Health Risks of Binge Drinking You Can’t Ignore.]

Sign No. 2: Your loved one’s addiction keeps getting worse, never better.

If you’re still unsure about whether your loved one’s addiction warrants an intervention because you aren’t quite sure if his or her behavior is “extreme” enough or whether the volume of drug consumption is an unknown factor, there’s one surefire way to make the best decision for your family.

If you notice your loved one’s addiction has become increasingly worse over the past few years, the past few months or any other allotted period of time, you have just identified the natural progression of the disease of addiction, and it’s necessary to stage an intervention.

Addiction and alcoholism are progressive diseases, meaning they always get worse over a period of time, despite moments or periods of abstinence. An addict can spend one month away from his or her drug of choice, but once they pick up that drug again, it’s as if they never quit.

The only way to address the progression of this disease is to provide your loved one with the necessary resources for a long-term recovery, including: detoxification to rid the body of lingering substances; inpatient treatment to give the mind, body and spirit a break from the addiction lifestyle; therapeutic resources to address the root causes of the addiction; a sober environment in which to flourish and develop connections founded in similarities; and aftercare options for lasting recovery.

An interventionist provides knowledgeable experience on effective communication with active drug and alcohol users, which can provide the family with an “edge,” if you will, that will increase the likelihood of the addict attending treatment.

[See: How to Find the Best Mental Health Professional for You.]

Sign No. 3: The thought of confronting your loved one about his or her addiction is terrifying.

Confrontation, especially with an individual whose behavior ranges from sedation one minute to rage the next, can be an overwhelming feat.

If the thought of confronting your loved one about his or her addiction, setting firm boundaries regarding their behavior or suggesting options for help gives you anxiety or fear, then an interventionist may be a great option for you and your loved ones.

The interventionist acts as a buffer between the addict and the loved ones. In such an emotional time as this, emotions can run rampant between the addict and his or her family. This type of volatile environment hinders the chances of the addict going to treatment to begin the road to recovery. The interventionist provides a structured and safe environment for everyone involved.

There is power in numbers; the help of an experienced professional can assist you and your loved ones with the appropriate steps along the way.

It is never a bad idea to stage an intervention on an addict or an alcoholic. Though the process sounds overwhelming and daunting, an intervention brings logic into an emotional situation with the help of a knowledgeable professional.

If just one of these signs is weighing heavy on your heart, it may be a good time to look into potential intervention opportunities, whether through a treatment center’s provision or through a licensed interventionist.

How to Break 7 Unhealthy Habits
Nail biting, knuckle cracking, ice chewing…


Those, uh, charming little quirks may seem innocent enough. But habits like these are worth breaking. Sometimes they’re a sign of something larger, such as stress or anxiety or even a nutritional deficiency. Sometimes they’re unsanitary and diet-destroying. And other times – sorry – they’re flat-out annoying to those around you. Here’s how to drop these miniature vices.

Habit: Chewing on ice
Habit: Chewing on ice


“Pica” is a condition that causes people to crave and chew non-foods, such as paper and ice. It’s sometimes triggered by nutritional issues like iron-deficiency anemia, according to the National Institutes of Health. Chewing ice could also signal emotional troubles like stress or even obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not to mention: That crunching is likely annoying your nearby co-workers.

How to stop:
How to stop:


Make and order your beverages ice-free to avoid temptation. Bring it up with your doctor, too. She can determine if you have a nutritional deficiency, and if so, help you overcome it. If she suspects it’s an anxiety issue, she may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy.

Habit: Slouching
Habit: Slouching


When you’re stooped as you stand, or slouched so far down in your seat that you’re nearly falling off, your back muscles and ligaments have to work harder to keep you balanced. This strain on your muscles can lead to back pain, fatigue and headaches, among other issues.

How to stop:
How to stop:


Practice makes perfect, and posture is no exception. When standing, check that your shoulders are back and relaxed, your chest is high and your knees are relaxed – not locked. As you sit, aim for both feet to be on the floor, with your hips level with your knees. Make sure your back presses firmly against the chair, and keep your upper back and neck “comfortably straight,” the Mayo Clinic recommends. While sitting and standing straight may seem unnatural and stiff at first, keep at it. It may help to stretch throughout the day or even try core strengthening classes.

Habit: Nail biting

Habit: Nail biting


Well, it’s not the most sanitary habit. Unless you compulsively wash your hands, the germs that sneak onto your nails every time you type on a keyboard, open a door or pet a dog will likely land in your mouth. If you tend to gnaw at your cuticles, too, you may develop a nail infection, according to the National Institutes of Health. And as is the case with many habits, nail biting could be a sign of emotional problems like stress or anxiety.

How to stop:
How to stop:


You have a couple options. Most drugstores sell products that look and work like clear nail polishes, except they have lasting, distinctly bitter tastes to discourage folks from biting. The Mayo Clinic suggests you identify what triggers your nail biting, like boredom, and, well, stop being bored. Chewing on some gum to keep your mouth preoccupied could also help. If you realize you bite your nails whenever you’re anxious, stressed or sad – and you bite your nails often – that might be a cue to see a psychiatrist.

Habit: Wearing your contact lenses while sleeping
Habit: Wearing your contact lenses while sleeping


Your risk of an eye infection spikes significantly when you wear your contacts as you sleep. Continually doing so could also deprive your eye tissue of the oxygen it needs, and in some cases, the eye could compensate by creating small blood vessels. Left unchecked, these vessels could cause permanent damage. Even if your eyes don’t develop an infection or form blood vessels, chances are they’ll be red and irritated the next day.

How to stop:
How to stop:


Make taking out your lenses part of your daily schedule. Each day, switch into glasses when, for example, you change out of your work clothes, or during a nightly news commercial break. You could also try extended-wear contacts, which are relatively new to the market and safe to wear when sleeping. Ask your optometrist if these are a good fit for you.

Habit: Knuckle cracking
Habit: Knuckle cracking


Actually, this habit may not be so bad. While your mother may have insisted that knuckle cracking will lead to arthritis, research largely disproves that myth. But consider this: Knuckle cracking is probably not winning you any popularity awards among friends and co-workers. That popping sound of gases escaping your joints may be satisfying to you, but it’s likely driving others crazy.

How to stop:

How to stop:


Like someone who’s trying to quit smoking might do, tell your friends and family that you’re trying to stop cracking your knuckles, which will make you feel more accountable for changing your ways. And just as some dieters record what they eat each day, it may be helpful to keep a tally of how many times you crack your knuckles. Then try to slowly cut back.

Habit: Late-night snacking
Habit: Late-night snacking


Research suggests that it can lower your metabolism. And if you plow through a bag of popcorn during a 10 p.m. movie, your body will need to digest it while you sleep, rather than burning fat. Plus, late-night snacking can wake you up with heartburn – an unpleasant way to throw off your sleep cycle.

How to stop:
How to stop:


Think about why you’re eating so late. Are you consuming enough during the day? How filling are your meals, and what does your breakfast look like? It may take some shifting in your daytime eating habits to curb those midnight fridge raids. If you’re trying to slim down, make a point to not eat after dinner – an easier task to accomplish if the day has left you full and satisfied.

Habit: Sleeping through alarms
Habit: Sleeping through alarms


If you tend to hit snooze one or two or 10 times each morning, you likely end up running late and frazzled before your day has even begun. Plus, trouble waking up is often a sign that you’re not getting enough quality sleep, which can lead to a slew of health problems, from weight gain to high blood pressure.

How to stop:
How to stop:


It’s all about getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Pick the time you’d like to actually wake up (not the time you’d like to first hit the snooze button), and count back eight hours. That’s your bedtime. If falling asleep at, say, 10 p.m. seems ridiculous, try going to bed just 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach it. Also, avoid toying with electronics and consuming caffeine before bed.

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Tags: addiction, alcohol, drugs

DeAnna Jordan is the clinical director at New Method Wellness, a substance abuse treatment center in Orange Country, California. Jordan has over 20 years of experience working with clients in recovery and is a marriage and family therapist specializing in the maintenance of healthy relationships. As a recovering addict, Jordan brings a breadth of personal recovery experience to her clinical leadership and believes a comfortable, structured and supportive environment is an essential part of maintaining long-term sobriety. In addition to her passion for recovery, Jordan is extremely involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As a current Woman of the Year candidate, Jordan is campaigning to raise funds for LLS blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors.
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