Have you been here? Today there are millions of families and friends who agonize over how to help a loved one struggling with alcoholism, drug problems, or mental health issues. The biggest obstacle to getting someone help is the issue of denial.

Denial in addiction is particularly problematic because the downside of drinking (or drugging) plus denial and driving can be fatal for the substance abuser and others. Other health risks associated with denial in addiction include heart disease, lung and liver disease, overdosing and brain damage. Denial is an unconscious defense mechanism that is necessary for survival. But, with denial in regards to addiction, the denial is taken to an extreme and becomes unhealthy in that it becomes an obstacle to recovery. The alcoholic or addict will blame everything and everyone except their own substance abuse for their problems. Another reason is that the addict may be using drugs or alcohol to cover up or numb unpleasant feelings and by stripping away the denial (and drugs and alcohol), the unpleasant feelings will come to the surface. One way to address a loved one’s addiction is to take action through a formal intervention. Staging a well- planned intervention can be an effective way to help a loved one recognize the impact of his or her behaviors and accept treatment.

An intervention is a carefully planned process in which family and friends, and sometimes colleagues, clergy or others, join together to confront someone about the consequences of alcoholism, addiction or another mental health problem, and ask him or her to accept treatment. An intervention can help people who struggle with addictive behaviors but who are in denial about their situation or who have been unwilling to accept treatment. People with addictions often don’t see the negative effects their behavior has on them and others. It’s important not to wait until they “want help.” Instead, think of an intervention as giving your loved one a clear opportunity to make changes before things get really bad like developing medical issues like liver disease, get arrested for a DWI/DUI or drug possession, lose their careers and family and in so many cases end up dead.

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