After working with people in crisis all over the country and throughout the world as a professional interventionist for almost the past 20 years, I can completely understand how difficult it might be right now for anyone out there reading this with a loved one currently struggling with substance abuse and/or mental illness to try and think about about life after an Intervention, especially when you can’t even get your loved one to talk about the underlying problem, let alone accept help for it!
However, the simple truth is that getting someone to agree to accept help for a serious substance abuse problem and/or mental illness is really just the beginning of the journey into recovery for everyone involved in the process. And I call recovery a journey because from my personal professional perspective, most people end up going down a whole bunch of long and winding roads before they finally end up on their Freeway Forward, the one that actually helps them heal, especially when it comes down to healing from within.
I have always said that the success of an Intervention lies heavily within the collective loving power of caring friends and family to establish, hold, and then uphold strategically significant healthy boundaries that support the foundation of the recovery process. As a result, my belief is that it is imperative to not only be able to lay down the law with love during an Intervention, but equally as important, to be able to hold the line after it. Therefore, planning a successful Intervention also includes having a recovery-centered plan of action to help you meet your emotional needs, while your loved one is simultaneously getting help to meet theirs in treatment, thereby creating a powerful therapeutic counterbalance.
So, when it comes down to actually drafting your very own Post-Intervention Care Plan, it’s important to recognize that by the time you finally decided to plan an Intervention, you were probably pretty close to hitting your very own emotional rock bottom, well in advance of your loved one in crisis. And if you can accept that premise, once you finally see your loved one head out on the road to recovery after an Intervention, you will probably feel like it’s the perfect time to tend to your own emotional welfare so that you will hopefully never having to go through that experience ever again!
Set Realistic Goals
The first step in any plan is to identify exactly what you want to accomplish, or your objectives. The same holds true when creating a solid Post-Intervention Care Plan for yourself. Start off by identifying what you want to accomplish for yourself as a result of the Intervention, both before and after your loved one is finally out on the road to recovery. Look closely at improving your quality of life as well as your ability to effectively cope and process issues that may have been impacting you the most, such as stress, anger, anxiety, resentment, and depression.
Although you may not have been the one in need of inpatient residential care, I suggest that you start planning your Post-Intervention Care Plan as soon as you actually decide to move forward with the Intervention, if not sooner. It will help you gauge your own interpersonal growth, while building on your strengths, and helping you learn from your weaknesses. As a matter of fact, unless you are already doing so, start taking care of your emotional welfare right now! Why wait any longer? As one of my unsuspecting mentors once told me, “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” While your loved one is taking care of themselves in treatment, do the same back home so that you can also benefit from the recovery process.
Reinforce Your System of Support
First and foremost, don’t try to go through it all alone. No matter how tough you think that you are, or how powerful you may actually be, your life has been impacted in one way or another by substance abuse and/or mental illness right along with your loved one in crisis. Now, in the same way that you wanted your loved one to reach out and accept help, if you are ready to experience the long-term and life-changing benefits of an Intervention, you will need to do the same.
Right out of the box, I recommend that you attend a support group meeting within in your community, such as Al-Anon or NAMI, so that you can connect with other people who have also been where you are and who are willing to freely share their experience with you. Don’t misunderstand me, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to your close friends and family for support, it’s that they just may not be able to relate to your particular situation, not to mention the fact that they may also want to avoid giving you the wrong advice. Beyond support group meetings, whether before or after all of the emotional dust finally has a chance to settle, I strongly suggest that you set aside at least one hour a week for individual therapy so that you can effectively process all of your feelings with a well-trained professional counselor.
Redefine Your Role
Arranging all of the pieces of the Intervention puzzle was no easy task. More than likely you had to mediate a whole host of inter-family squabbles, while simultaneously and secretly putting out all of those unexpected logistical fires. Maybe you have always been the one who was expected to somehow fix all of the problems, come up with the solutions, and make the peace.
After the Intervention, you may want to look at redefining your role, not only within your family, but in every other aspect of your life. Along with everyone else who participated in the Intervention, including your loved one who was struggling with substance abuse and/or mental illness, now is the perfect time for you move on and grow.
Engage in the Process
As I am sure that your are already well aware, addiction and mental illness touches everyone in the family in one way or another. As a result, when the time is right, perhaps like right now, look for a treatment center that strongly promotes family work as part of their core curriculum.They may even sponsor a Family Weekend, in which families are welcome and encouraged to visit their loved ones in treatment and then actively participate in the treatment experience while they attend workshops designed to promote greater insight, understanding, along with constructive communication skills. Whether in person, over the phone, or by Skype, engage actively in the process. Go. Call. Make the time.
Remain in the Solution
Think positive. Good times are ahead. Things are going to get better for both you and your loved one struggling with substance abuse and/or mental illness. Although you cannot actually control your loved one’s progress in treatment or the speed of their recovery, as long as you remain steadfast in the solution you can definitely help to improve the prognosis by continuing to hold healthy boundaries introduced during the Intervention. After hitting your very own emotional rock bottom, you should be more than ready to thrive in the solution, now guided by a tangible plan of action rich in support, and full of demonstrative opportunities for interpersonal growth. Unfortunately, however, rest assured that more unwelcome and unexpected twists and turns are also on the way. Even after a successful Intervention, the proverbial coast may be far from completely clear. When dealing with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders, just when you think that things are moving in the right direction, something as simple as a small disagreement can end up moving months of progress sideways. Stay cautiously optimistic and remain in the solution at all times!
The Intervention is just the beginning of the recovery process. As is the case when battling any other progressive illness or disease, overcoming substance abuse and/or mental illness takes a lot of hard work and determination by everyone involved. Furthermore, the results of an Intervention have the potential to go far beyond sobriety alone. Although I have to admit that it took me a while to accept the fact that most people end up reaching out to me at the very bottom, as a sort of last ditch effort to try and break through seemingly impenetrable walls of resistance and denial, I take great pride in the fact that the bottom is exactly where true healing begins. After the Intervention, you will have the unique opportunity to thrive in the solution, right along with your loved one in recovery.
- About the author Evan Jarschauer:
- I am a Professional Comprehensive Intervention Counselor and Licensed Psychotherapist. I create, implement, and monitor comprehensive treatment plan solutions to meet the unique therapeutic needs of individuals and families impacted by symptoms of addiction and mental health disorders throughout the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. To learn more about my services and to get in touch with me, make sure to check out Choose Help's Intervention Services.
Page last updated Jun 07, 2018