Should Children Be Included in Interventions?

Should Children Be Included in Interventions?

Children can provide a strong motivation for parents to get help for their addiction

Addiction doesn’t just affect the person under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It affects everyone around that addict, including coworkers, friends and family. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of drug addiction in the home. According to the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over eight million children in the United States live with at least one parent who abused drugs in the past year. This translates to about one in four children under the age of 18 being exposed to family addiction, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Despite the negative environment they face, children of parents who abuse drugs like Xanax can play a major role in helping their parents to get the help they need to live drug-free. According to an article released by Psych Central, most men and women seek treatment for their substance abuse because of positive family intervention and involvement in recovery. Addicts who are confronted by their children about their drug problem see their addiction in a different light when they understand the impact of their poor choices on their children. To hear a plea from one’s child is a powerful motivator for getting help. Involving a child in an intervention may be an important element in an addict’s decision to enter treatment.

Elements of an Intervention

An intervention is simply a meeting created for the sole purpose of confronting an addict about his drug abuse and giving him the option of entering treatment or facing negative consequences.

According the Mayo Clinic, elements of an intervention include:

  • Planning – A family member forms a planning group comprised of family members and loved ones who will participate in the intervention. At this stage, it is best to consult with an interventionist or mediator who is trained and experienced in these types of meetings. They can be a valuable asset in the process.
  • Gather information – You and other concerned people should find out the extent of the loved one’s addiction and research treatment options. You may also want to make arrangements for admission to treatment if the loved one should agree to get help.
  • Form a team – This team will be comprised of everyone who will be involved in the intervention, including children. At this point, you will also set a time and place for the meeting. You will also determine the structure of the meeting and who will speak.
  • Decide on consequences – If your loved one refuses to get help for his addiction, each person on the team must determine the consequences he will enact. This may involve eviction from the home, cutting off financial support or removing children from the home.
  • Write down your statements – Before the meeting, each person involved in the intervention should write down specific details about how the addict’s behavior has resulted in problems, such as abuse, neglect, emotional harm, financial problems, embarrassment or other issues. You should also write down words of love, affirmation and encouragement to get help for the addiction.
  • Hold the intervention meeting – The addict is asked to come (or is brought by a loved one) to a location without being told why. Each person present is then given the opportunity to share the information they wrote down. Everyone should also explain the consequences the addict will face if he does not enter treatment.
  • Follow up based on the outcome – If the addict agrees to treatment, help him get to the location. Be available for family and group counseling as a part of treatment. If the addict refuses treatment, it is important to enact the consequences each member stated would occur. This is important to show the addict the seriousness of the situation.

An intervention does not necessarily have to be an emotionally-charged, volatile meeting as depicted in the media. It can be an effective tool for change.

Should a Child Be Involved in an Intervention?

Determining whether or not a child should be involved in an intervention should be based on the individual child. Some children are simply too young to understand the situation and could experience emotional trauma if involved in an intervention. Young children, such as infants and toddlers, can actually derail an intervention if the attention is shifted from the addict’s behavior to a young child’s immediate needs (like diaper change, feeding, sleep, etc.). Some children might be in danger if the addict has a history of violence and thus should not be involved in that intervention situation. Under some conditions, however, involving a child could be helpful for both the parent and the child. A child who finally has the opportunity to voice his pain and speak his mind about his parent’s addiction could benefit greatly from involvement in an intervention. This could be the first step for him in the healing process. A child should always be asked before being involved.

Other principles to follow if a child is involved in an intervention include the following:

  • Explain what the intervention will be like so the child is not alarmed. Discuss who will be there, including an interventionist if used.
  • Before the meeting, review with the child what he would like to say. Talk this over several times.
  • Always give the child the option to leave the intervention if he would like.
  • Never force a child to participate in an intervention.
  • Remove a child from the room during the intervention if he shows signs of distress. Make sure there is someone designated to leave with the child and to stay with him for the duration of the intervention.

Remember, involving a child in an intervention is done for the benefit of the child, not as a pawn to guilt an addict into treatment.

Getting Help For Your Addiction

If you are addicted to drugs like Xanax, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline anytime; we’re available 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions counselors who will help you determine the best treatment options for your unique situation. Don’t allow an addiction to rob you of your relationships, including your relationship with your child. Take the first step and call us today.

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