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Tough Love Drug Addiction Intervention Methods

As much as we would all love to do things amicably, there are times when showing that you love someone means you have to get tough with them. The Encarta North American Dictionary defines tough love as “a caring [and] strict attitude adopted toward a friend or loved one with a problem, as distinct from an attitude of indulgence.” If you feel like you’re talking ‘till your blue in the face, the words just aren’t getting through, and the chaos is escalating, then it might be time to take a different approach with your efforts at intervening.

The Need for Tough Love Drug Addiction Interventions

If your loved one is known to have a history of any of the following:

  • Violence
  • Mental illness
  • Multiple drug addictions
  • Threats to self or others
  • Emotionally unstable reactions

it’s a good indication that they are already under immense strain with their personal life and may react in such a volatile way that personal safety becomes top priority.

Any involvement that elicits physical, emotional or verbal abuse is counter-productive for everyone involved. Lashing out in kind only adds fuel to the fire, and sitting back and taking it puts all your control in the hands of the abuser. Assertiveness, on the other hand, allows each individual to claim control over their own actions without bulldozing over anyone else.

Mentally Preparing for Tough Love Interventions

Realizing you are the master of only your actions and no one else’s is the first step in being able to separate from the situation and observe what’s happening from a distance. Thinking over the risks associated with getting involved vs. doing nothing, can you live with yourself if someone gets hurt – or worse?

Take the time to talk over your options with a pastor, mentor, therapist, or good friend who has experience with drug abuse and interventions. Explore the possible reactions that could surface when your loved one discovers you’ll no longer play the role of the victim or enabler. Know ahead of time how you will respond to assertively defend your decisions.

Tactical Maneuvers for Tough Love Interventions

When faced with a crisis situation, your first priority is to protect yourself from harm. Teach family members and children to call 911 for threats of violence or suicide, any type of physical assault, and loss of consciousness (drug overdose). These are legitimate emergencies that need to be handled promptly by paramedics and first responders.

Notify law enforcement when you suspect drugs are on your property, or your loved one is driving under the influence. Report thefts, trespassing, vandalism, and truancy immediately and press charges whenever possible.

Ignoring the problem will not make it go away; it rewards the behavior by allowing a free ride for unaccountability. Responding assertively brings a new awareness of consequences and sense of responsibility to a drug addict’s chaotic world. Eventually – hopefully – they will begin to understand the reactions to their own behaviors and realize that it is up to them to change the pattern by getting help for their problems.

If your child was using, would you choose the same or different methods than the ones described here?

Wendy Lee Nentwig

By Wendy Lee Nentwig
Guest Contributor
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