There comes a time in almost every addict’s life when their loved ones and friends have seen enough. Whether the addict has lost money, their health, their job, or their marriage, watching them continue down their destructive path is more than most people who care for them can bear. When the situation reaches a boiling point, someone gets the idea to stage an addiction intervention. But unlike the television show, interventions do not always have a happy ending with the addict agreeing to attend rehab or therapy. So, what happens then?

Understanding Intervention Failures

When discussing the topic of failed addiction interventions, it is essential to note that there are two types of unsuccessful interventions. The first is simply when the addict refuses to acknowledge their substance abuse and refuses treatment while feeling attacked by those who have staged the intervention.

The second failed intervention is when an addict refuses the intervention efforts toward treatment but comes away with a newfound knowledge of the love and caring their assembled family members and friends have for them. While in most schools of thought the refusal of treatment is a failure, the display of love and caring can often serve to inspire behavioural changes on the part of the addict, making the ‘failed’ intervention a success on some level.

Characteristics of a Successful Intervention

Whether the addict accepts treatment options following an intervention or not, there are certain characteristics common among addiction interventions considered successful. These are:

  • a trained interventionist facilitates the intervention gathering
  • the family and friends of the addict present a loving, caring, and non-accusing front
  • the addict felt regret for a recent act or behaviour.

Sometimes, even though all the appropriate characteristics of a successful addiction intervention are present, the addict refuses treatment. Or, if they initially agree to the treatment they end up backing out. For the family and friends who staged the intervention, this can be a demoralising blow.

Finding Post-Intervention Support

One of the main components of any addiction intervention is the presentation of an ultimatum to the addict by their loved ones. The ultimatum is the consequence that will occur as a result of the addict refusing treatment. Often, the consequence is the severing of all ties with the addict and can be a painful thing for their loved ones to commit to. However, if the ultimatum is not adhered to, the addict will continue to use and abuse their loved ones. Maintaining the boundaries that you set forth during the intervention by yourself can be challenging, to say the least. Having a trusted person to lean on when you find your willpower waning in regards to your ultimatum, can be the factor that stops you from enabling your addict once again.

The Family-Based Support System

When family members come together to stage an addiction intervention, they are fuelled by the hope that their loved own will agree to treatment. So, when the addict chooses to accept the consequences rather than treatment, the proverbial wind is knocked from their sails. After such a disappointment, it is easy for family members to drift back into their own individual lives and away from one another. An important part of the healing process for the loved ones of an addict is having their own support system to call upon in times of need. It is beneficial for family members to gather regularly to not only help one another but to ensure each family member has not been lured by the addict not to uphold their ultimatum.

Family Treatment

Many families suffer from their loved one’s addiction, and a failed addiction intervention often exacerbates that suffering. There are programmes available through organisations such as our own that provide family recovery programmes for family members who need extra support in coping with their addict’s choices.


How to Help the Addict When Addiction Intervention Fails

While you must adhere to the ultimatum you have given your addict, it is understandable that regardless of their behaviours, you will still love them and want to be a part of your life. Speaking with an interventionist or addiction counsellor can help you to identify ways in which you can still support your addict without enabling him or her or compromising your ultimatum’s hard lines.

Healing and Remaining Hopeful

The disappointment following an unsuccessful addiction intervention can be palpable, as an addict’s family and friends come to the realisation that their addict has chosen their addiction over their heartfelt pleas. It is important that the addict’s loved ones do what is necessary to heal themselves no matter what their addict decides to do. Should the day come when your addict embraces the idea of rehab or therapy, they will need a strong support system. You cannot be there for them if you have not healed yourself first.

Liberty House offers a robust Family Recovery Programme for all clients and their families. Please call today for further details and information on our family programme.