All About The Family Intervention And How To Get Help

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Do I need to set up an intervention for my loved one with a substance abuse problem? How do I do this, can I do it by myself? When is the right time? These are questions that many family members ask themselves.

At The Cedars, we believe that the family and loved ones are as important as the substance abuser. We understand the pain and frustration that addiction causes. Some families blame themselves for the addiction and have lost hope of regaining a normal, healthy way of living. These are some of the reasons why addiction is often referred to as a family disease – but there is hope.

It is certainly the case that family members are most often aware of the addiction long before the substance abuser admits they have a problem. It is often less clear how the family is affected and how the family dynamic could be unintentionally adding fuel to the fire.

Family members can lose themselves in the process by desperately attempting to fix the substance abuser. They may experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, sleepless nights, frustration, sadness, loss of interest in hobbies and friends, and arguments with immediate family members. Often, these negative behaviors continue for many years resulting in an unhealthy family environment.


That Addiction is a family illness, and what this actually means only really becomes clear once the addict is in treatment and working with the family. Most family members believe that the primary problem lies with the addict and if the addiction problem is solved then the family unit will heal.  There is no doubt that the substance abuser creates a huge amount of pain and sadness during their active addiction, however each family member plays their role.

As the addiction progresses over time, the family members become frustrated, exhausted or worn out in the process.  During this time of crisis, not only are family members unaware of their role in the dynamic but have no tools or guidance to behave differently. Some common reactions are:  lying and covering up for the addict, accepting behaviors that are not acceptable in order to keep the peace, feel a desperate need to control the substance abuser’s environment and avoid any confrontation due to fear of the substance abuser relapsing.

Unfortunately, a substance abuser seldom responds to a speech, threats, begging or pleading. Often, a complete change in the family environment is required.

This family dynamic means that very often, family members are not best placed to initiate an intervention. While it is of course possible, it is likely to be preferable to have a professional assist with intervention process.

Being open to receiving assistance from addiction professionals can be the very first step to healing the family as a whole. The humility to admit that we as a family require outside assistance is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.


Most family members believe that the substance is the only problem.  However, this is not the way addiction works – the substance is actually the symptom. If the substance was the problem, there would be no need for ongoing recovery to maintain abstinence after a detox, and the family unit would heal after the intervention.  The underlying problems are often complex, sometimes rooted in childhood and almost always involve negative behavioural patterns and ways of thinking. Changing these aspects requires time and commitment to a recovery programme from the addict and ongoing support and involvement from the family.


When dealing with medical or financial problems, there is seldom a hesitation to contact a professional with experience in that particular field. The same applies when dealing with addiction, and a professional can bring exactly the objectivity required to mediate an agreement between the family and the addict to seek help.

Families are in desperate need for the substance abuser to recover and tend to think that the intervention process is an event that requires little preparation. The goal of a professional is to assist the entire family to find recovery, however this is not an over-night process.

At The Cedars, we begin with the PREPARATION phase. During this phase the interventionist will spend time with the family and loved ones to gain some insight in to the family dynamics as well as history of the substance abuse.  During this phase the interventionist will also ensure that all family members and loved ones are on the same page.  In other words, everyone must be in agreement with their goals and objectives.

Once the preparation is complete, the FAMILY INTERVENTION will take place.  The family members, the substance abuser and the interventionist will be present.  Family members will often understandably get emotional and may want to voice their opinions strongly, and the interventionist takes the mediator role in this case during the intervention.

Once the intervention is complete many family members may think that their problems have been solved and the family unit can return to normal.  However, this is most likely not the case. Family members may only become fully aware of how severely affected they are during or soon after the intervention, and it is vitally important that family members take the time to heal and find their own sense of well-being. To this end, The Cedars provides FAMILY COUNSELLING and COACHING, helping families to find their own paths to recovery.


Family members will often find an excuse as to why they cannot do an intervention. There are often underlying fears that prevent a family from going forward with an intervention.  Some common fears are, “Will he or she still love me?”, “His children are currently busy with exams and an intervention will upset them” or “Where will she live if she refuses treatment?” and so on.

If a family member was diagnosed with cancer, would we not want to act immediately in getting a solution to their illness?  Addiction is an illness where the addict is fighting to stay sick and therefore requires outside intervention.

As a team we have the resources, knowledge and experience to assist you in dealing with the substance abuser as well as helping you heal as a family.

If you are ready to take action, or are just wanting some advice, please feel to contact us and a professional counsellor will be glad to assist.

For any further information please contact us :

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Cell Number:  073 532 1752

Office :  087 813 0950

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If you have any additional questions on addiction, would like to speak to one of our team members, or want to hear more about the admissions process, feel free to make contact with us at any time. We look forward to helping you and your loved ones