Addiction Interventions

It is not only alcoholics that can require or benefit from an Intervention; an Intervention can be conducted for any kind of addiction, including all types of drugs and process addictions such as Gambling and Eating Disorders. Process addictions tend to go undetected for longer as they are easier to hide in terms of appearing intoxicated. Process addictions cripple the individual with feelings of shame and guilt, making it feel impossible for them to admit their condition and ask for help. Fear of being judged, pride and denial are the number one offenders in preventing individuals from seeking help and support.

If you have a loved one that is suffering from an addiction, whether it is substance or behavioural related, there is help and treatment available. Most process addictions can be treated in the majority of rehab clinics. Where there is a need for more specialist treatment, treatment at a specialist rehab clinic can be arranged. The important thing to remember is that there is help, support and effective treatment available and that an intervention can be instrumental in your loved one accessing that.

Case Study

*Erin* is 21 and has suffered from Eating disorders since the tender age of 11 years old. Erin’s addiction has swung from Anorexia to Bulimia. During her early teens she was admitted to hospital on a number of occasions for refusing to eat, her weight has become dangerously low and she was suffering from malnutrition. Her parents were desperate to get her well and paid for private Psychiatrists and counsellors to work with her. At the age of 16 Erin was admitted to a specialist rehabilitation facility overseas for a period of 8 months. On her return back home the change in Erin was remarkable. Her parents finally felt that they were winning the war against their daughters devastating and destructive illness. They hired a home tutor so that Erin could retake the exams she had missed due to her illness; true to form Erin applied herself diligently and obtained straight A’s for all of her exams. Erin’s continued rehabilitation and exam results enabled her to enrol in university at the age of 18, understandably her parents were worried about her being away from home and tried to persuade Erin to defer and focus on her recovery. But Erin feeling like she had been given a second chance at life was determined not to waste any more time being held back by her illness. With mixed feelings, Erin’s parents agreed to support her decision to further her education. It was agreed that Erin would return home during the holidays and occasionally at weekends when her schedule allowed. The first term of Erin’s enrolment seemed to pass without hitch as she kept to her agreement of regularly phoning her parents and returned home during the half term holidays. Erin also seemed to be maintaining a healthy weight and coping with being away from home very well. However on Erin’s return home for the Christmas break, her parents noticed that she had become withdrawn, and although her weight seemed to have remained stable and her eating healthy, Erin seemed distant. Her parents also noticed that she was drinking quite heavily in the evenings and tried in vain to communicate with her around this. Erin resented their interference and became defensive and argumentative. By the time she returned to University the following term, her parents actually felt relieved at her departure. On Erin’s return to university her parents noticed a marked drop in the contact that they had with her, but trying hard not to over react they put it down to her being busy and enjoying University life. However, in the February of the new term they received a call from one of Erin’s housemates *Beth*. Beth had become good friends with Erin, and had even joined the family over Christmas for Boxing Day Supper. Beth said she was worried for Erin’s wellbeing and had been torn as to whether to say something to her parents, but given her friends past history she felt it the right thing to do. Beth told Erin’s parents how Erin had become increasingly isolated at University, choosing not to socialize or mix with others in her free time. She advised that Erin was drinking regularly and she suspected that she had become Bulimic as had heard her throwing up in the bathroom on a number of occasions after meal times. Worried for her friend, Beth had researched Bulimia on the internet and found that many of Erin’s behaviours were in keeping with signs and symptoms typical of the illness. Erin’s face had become bloated, her hair was thinning and her face covered in spots. She appeared weak and tired all the time and frequently failed to turn up for lectures and lessons. Erin’s mother *Collette* felt her heart sink, she knew then that her daughter was suffering from Bulimia and that her health was in danger. Beth was desperate for Collette not to tell Erin that she had found out from her. Beth still had Erin’s trust and was terrified her friend would cut her off if she found out. This left Collette in an awful predicament, she was grateful to Beth for alerting her to Erin’s illness but at the same time could not ignore what she had been told. Collette knowing her daughters behaviours well, sensed that if she approached Erin over her Bulimia that Erin would not only cut off Beth but her also. It was at this point that Collette decided she needed professional help and advice and called Daniel. Daniel completely understood the fear surrounding the family challenging Erin on her Eating Disorder, but reasoned that to do nothing would only serve to make the situation worse and Erin’s life be put at risk. Daniel took a detailed assessment of Erin’s past medical and emotional history and recommended that the family consider a professional intervention. Approached in the wrong way, challenging Erin could send her spiralling further into isolation and her addiction. Erin’s parents knew from past experiences that this was true and although gripped with fear and reservations, agreed that an Intervention seemed the only viable option that could result in Erin getting treatment once more. An intervention was planned with Erin’s parents, her friend Beth and another close friend that Erin had bonded with at University. Daniel also enlisted the help of Erin’s eating disorder counsellor whom she had developed a great trust with over the years. The intervention was booked for the next term break when she was due to return home. On Erin’s arrival at her parent’s home, they knew immediately that they were doing the right thing; Erin looked unwell and seemed full of resentment at having to return home over the break. Erin advised that she would be returning to university after only a few days stay as she had work she needed to catch up on. Immediately Collette panicked as the intervention was not arranged until 4 days after Erin’s return home. Despite trying to convince Erin to stay longer, her pleas fell on deaf ears. With time now playing a critical factor in the intervention going ahead, Daniel responded quickly by calling the other participants to see if the Intervention could be brought forward. Daniel remained calm and reassuring throughout the process and the Intervention was successfully brought forward at short notice to fit in with the afternoon before Erin was due to leave. It was decided that Erin would not be offered a return to the same place of treatment she had previously been admitted and that instead she would attend a different treatment clinic for a period of 3 months but with a more structured aftercare program. It was recognised that Erin’s long periods of treatment at various hospitals and rehabs had led her to become institutionalized. On Daniel’s recommendation it was decided that a more pragmatic approach would be taken this time and that after an initial period of rehabilitation at a unit specializing in treating eating disorders and emotional conditions, that the bulk of Erin’s treatment would be carried out in the community with the help of an intensive addiction therapist and a personal Recovery Coach. With their help, Erin would be guided and supported in her reintegration into life and learn self-sufficiency. With all the arrangements in place, the intervention went ahead. At first Erin was angry and denied all knowledge of her Bulimia and drinking, but after a time she calmed down and listened to what was being said. What she heard was that her family and friends loved her and wanted to offer a structured and supportive solution to her finding recovery and being able to engage with life at the same time. Erin’s worst fear was that by admitting her Bulimia and drinking that she would be sent to a rehab unit for 6 months or more. Being reassured that a more integrated approach was what was needed, she finally admitted after 4 hours that she needed help and that she was once again in the grips of an eating disorder. She could see that she could not continue as she was and admitted that she had started to feel suicidal and hopeless as a result.

Erin completed a period of 3 months in treatment in a program that addressed both her eating disorder and her drinking and depression. She deferred her university course to the following intake year and started again, but this time had intensive support and treatment from a recovery coach and addiction counsellor near to the University. Erin is now half way through her second year in University and doing extremely well, she still sees her counsellor on a weekly basis and speaks with her Recovery coach frequently over the phone and face to face.

Eating disorders are notoriously difficult to recover from, and for Erin and her parents it is something that they must remain forever vigilant around. But for today Erin is firmly in recovery and is starting to experience life as it should be learning as she goes along, enjoying self-sufficiency and new experiences but always keeping her recovery firmly at the forefront of everything.

*Names and identifying facts have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the client and the family*

Erin’s case is a powerful example of how careful planning, excellent communicating, and research of past treatment history can prove invaluable in an intervention. Erin’s treatment needs and her needs as an individual were firmly taken into account, providing a treatment solution that was both suitable and appealing.