Those with problematic drug abuse to substances like marijuana or cocaine who get treated at the beginning of their substance use disorders, are much more likely to avoid relapse and other health care issues in the future.
Substance abuse and early intervention
The days of waiting for an addict to hit ”rock bottom” and realizing the severity and helplessness of their addiction have become more of an antiquated albeit unhelpful treatment method over the years.
Evidence suggests that early interventions have proven to be incredibly advantageous to individuals with a drug use problem.
When a person receives treatment early for their addiction, whether it be drug abuse or other substance use disorder, it prevents the likelihood of other mental health consequences.
Delayed intervention encourages the body to build a high tolerance to a substance (such as drugs and alcohol).
It also allows addictions to create mental, emotional and physical footers, all of which makes treatment and recovery incredibly challenging and relapse much more likely.
The consequences of delayed intervention have proven to be costly for many countries across the globe.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported that for every two dollars of American government spending that goes toward addiction prevention, over ninety-six dollars gets spent on addressing the consequences of the countries that fail to prevent and treat drug and substance use disorders.
Drug abuse prevention
Detecting and addressing behavioral problems at the outset is just one way in which substance use disorders get prevented or reduced, particularly in adolescents.
Research suggests that many behavioral health issues can get spotted up to fours years before they become disorders.
Programs such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) help to fund sobriety programs for young children and adolescents by teaching them essential principles around substance use that can get adapted for addicts of all ages.
Importance of early intervention
As mentioned earlier, the benefits of early intervention are bottomless.
Whether someone has a marijuana or cocaine addiction, specific therapies and interventions can help control chronic addiction symptoms and improve an individual’s overall quality of life.
Some of the advantages of early intervention include:
Intervening early sets the stage for positive long-term effects, particularly when the long-term feels endless
Intervening at the outset catches the addict while they are still in frequent contact with healthier influences and environments
Early intervention alters the person’s life-course trajectory before it drifts too far out in the distance
Early intervention ensures that the long-term physical side effects of drug abuse and alcohol get minimized
Early intervening allows an addicts’ family members and friends to correct any unhealthy behaviors of their own that may be contributing to a loved ones’ problem with drug use
Intervening at the start also gives an addict the chance to shift their overall life focus toward healthy factors (before the addiction grabs hold) including, resilience, healthy environments, supportive relationships, positive mental health and adequate coping skills
Lastly, early intervention makes things generally that much easier for the addict.
It is much less challenging to break a substance use habit if the substance abuse pattern hasn’t yet established an integral role in the person’s life.
What are formal vs informal interventions?
The term ”intervention” often strikes up terrible images in a person’s mind, among many things, an intervention ”mob culture” where parents, family members, and friends get viewed as interrogators and the addicted, the prey.
Social media often sensationalizes drug use intervention programs with frightening images of addiction recovery settings within primary mental health.
Painting an inaccurate depiction of early intervention programs can be conducive to substance misuse recovery.
Addicts require the full support and understanding from their school, work colleagues and communities, all of which are critical components to treating underlying trauma, behavior and problematic drug use.
People who may be wondering about formal drug intervention must consider all the facts before making their first move.
For example, suppose parents or loved ones already have frank conversations with someone they love about their drug use issues.
In that case, a gentle conversation might be enough to get them to consider treatment to address their addiction problem.
Formal – intervention principles
However, even the most informal approach to early intervention will benefit from using the formal -intervention principles, all of which get stated below:
Prepare the intervention script way ahead – a rule of thumb is to practice in advance as a group and agree among yourselves not to get distracted by arguments or anything else that may take you off your schedule.
Constantly express your respect, empathy and concern for the addict throughout the intervention, letting them know how much you value your relationship with them and instilling the belief that they can overcome their addiction.
Ensure that the intervention team is no larger than six people. Consider how difficult and upsetting the situation already is for an addict without the added pressure of feeling bombarded and outnumbered. The aim is for the addict to remain as logical and non-defensive as possible.
Ensure that you understand the substance used and the specific concerns related to the drug. You must also know how long your loved one has been experiencing substance abuse and why. It also helps to know what other issues have developed as a result of substance abuse.
Always summarize the intervention by issuing the person with a sturdy ”next step”, such as an immediate call to action like professional treatment that they ideally commit to there and then. It’s also helpful to prepare for any harmful consequences that may arise from the intervention, mainly if they refuse treatment.
It’s normal to be concerned
Another area of importance in early intervention is understanding and addressing the common concerns associated with the intervention process.
An individual may worry about losing their relationship with the addict and fear that the addict is angry at them for approaching the issues surrounding their substance use disorder.
Developing a sense of trust
People must come to terms with the possibility that the addict may very well be angry at them. Let’s face it; it’s never easy being told that ”you’re messing up your life” or having to admit to an addiction to substances like marijuana or cocaine.
Anger and resentment are likely to occur at the outset since few people will get geared toward instant gratitude.
Parents and family members must appreciate that although the initial intervention phase will be challenging, your loved one won’t end up hating you for it.
The key is to remain supportive, empathetic and understanding. Before long, your loved one will begin to demonstrate appreciation for your concern, and your relationship will end up being a lot stronger for it.
What to do if the intervention process fails
It’s common for people to refuse addiction treatment.
Regardless of how well the intervention process got implemented, your loved one may not be ready to face their substance abuse problems.
People need to remind themselves:
Not to be discouraged or give up hope – Often, setbacks are merely a setup for a comeback.
To consider what might have gone wrong with the intervention, and if there was another attempt, what principles would get included the next time. Common mistakes made at interventions often include people going off subject, the addict being under the influence during the intervention and interveners getting defensive.
To stick to the consequences – when the addict refuses to get treatment, people MUST adhere to the effects they presented to the addict; if people back down, it puts them in a much weaker position and back into the enabler role. All this makes future intervention a lot harder.
Continue to be active within your support network – addicts’ loved ones’ need support too, and continuing to receive this level of support can be very empowering. It may even encourage an addict to follow this example in the future.
Getting in touch
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, then perhaps it’s time to consider getting treated.
If you’ve ever picked up a musical instrument, let’s say a guitar, as a hobby, then you may be familiar with the experience of joyfully losing yourself in the process of learning everything about it. Time seems to fly when you’re mastering chords and strumming techniques. And each new level of mastery you achieve delivers a warm glow of satisfaction, even if no one is there to witness your achievement.
This experience of being moved to action by internal rewards is what’s known as intrinsic motivation.
Its opposite is what’s known as extrinsic motivation, which all of us are more than familiar with. Extrinsic motivation is propelled by external rewards, which include things like receiving a good grade on a school project or a promotion at work for a job well done. It also includes avoiding punishment.
What makes intrinsic motivation so powerful
Intrinsic motivation has a few key things going for it that extrinsic motivation simply can’t match.
For one, internal rewards are driven by enjoyment and curiosity and are naturally satisfying. They compel us to explore and learn and live up to our own potential, which is fundamentally exciting and is often a form of spiritual awakening as well.
Hobbies, like the aforementioned guitar playing, are typically driven by intrinsic motivations. We do them because they bring us joy that isn’t dependent on any external reward being handed to us. We read the book because it stimulates our mind and imagination. We write in our journal because it feels good to put our thoughts to paper. We play chess because the mental challenge is exhilarating.
A sense of meaning is generated by these activities, and it comes from within. No external reward can provoke quite the same sense of significance. External rewards are, of course, nice to receive, but their impact tends to be fleeting, and in the worst cases, they can actually have a de-motivating effect. Studies have shown that attaching extrinsic rewards to an activity that is already internally rewarding tends to diminish the inner satisfaction we feel about it. It seems that the presence of an external reward dulls the natural rush of joy we feel and decreases our interest in the activity for its own sake.
Lessons about intrinsic motivation from the worlds of work and education
Two areas of life where motivation comes into play in a major way are school and work. Many educational institutions and workplaces are built on systems that use external rewards to drive achievement. The underlying belief is that learning and work are generally boring and that people need to be nudged by some external incentive into doing them.
Studies have shown that external incentives are a powerful way to boost productivity, such as offering a cash bonus to complete a project quickly. However, external incentives do not have the same ability to influence the quality of a person’s work.
The quality of a person’s work output is much more influenced by whether they find the task personally engaging and satisfying. In other words, if you have a natural interest in doing a good job and you find the job to be interesting, fun, engaging, and captivating, you are much more likely to generate new ideas and solutions that haven’t been tried before.
When you are powered by intrinsic motivation, the focus shifts from getting the job done in order to receive the reward, to doing the task for the sake of the task and finding joy in completing it in a new, novel, and excellent way.
Essentially, external rewards are effective at boosting productivity and output, but they lag far behind internal rewards in being able to spur quality and creativity.
The question then becomes, how do we foster intrinsic motivation?
Educational researchers have identified several factors that increase intrinsic motivation:
Challenge Motivation tends to be higher when a person is pursuing a goal that is attainable, but not necessarily guaranteed, and when the goal has some personal meaning for them.
Control People are more likely to be intrinsically motivated when they have the personal autonomy over themselves and the power to choose what they pursue as well as the setting in which they pursue it.
Cooperation Situations that involve helping others also promote intrinsic motivation, as many people find a natural satisfaction in being of service to others.
Competition People also tend to be motivated when they have the opportunity to measure them against others in a way that reflects well on themselves.
Curiosity Having one’s curiosity piqued, particularly by something in their physical surroundings, is a powerful source of motivation to investigate further and learn more.
Recognition Having an accomplishment acknowledged is another effective way to spur an internal desire to perform at a higher level and achieve more.
These findings offer important guidance for anyone who wants to create the conditions for high quality, creative, and fulfilling work to be produced, whether it’s in a school, work, or personal environment.
Offering people the opportunity to tackle interesting and worthwhile challenges in a way that offers them autonomy and control over the process is much more likely to yield positive results than a mere bonus or pat on the back could.
Why your perspective on rewards matters
As noted above, studies have demonstrated that when external rewards are given in situations where intrinsic motivation is already at play, they tend to diminish the internal rewards a person experiences. Put simply, when you are given an external reward for an activity you find personally satisfying, your personal satisfaction may actually go down.
Now, there are factors that impact whether or not your intrinsic motivation goes up or down in the fact of an external reward. The nature of the event itself and how you view it is one of them.
For example, a dancer who is competing in a dance competition can view a first place prize in one of two ways:
As an affirmation of their hard work and excellence
As a form of coercion or bribe
Their view of the external reward, and what it means in the context of the event, will be a big determinant of whether the person experiences an increase or decrease in intrinsic motivation from the event.
Intrinsic motivation and recovery from addiction
Intrinsic motivation has a lot to teach us about how and why people succeed in recovery, while others don’t.
People seek treatment for addiction for many reasons, both internally and externally motivated. While external motivations may push you to seek help, such as the potential loss of a job or relationship, it’s rare that this kind of motivation can provide the kind of stable foundation needed for a lasting and flourishing recovery.
In most cases, the quality of your recovery is determined by intrinsic rewards and your desire to change your life for your own sake, rather than for the sake of anyone else.
Your intrinsic motivation doesn’t have to be fully formed or even present at all when you start your recovery. But as you progress in your journey, it’s important to devote some thought to what you hope to gain from making these changes and what you hope to discover about yourself. As you move forward, the natural satisfaction and joy that come from building a better life for yourself provide the fuel for even more positive changes.
We’re here to help
Tikvah Lake Recovery offers a beautiful and peaceful setting that allows you to explore the parts of yourself that have been obscured by addiction.
Our professional team is experienced in helping people rediscover what motivates them and inspires their natural joy and satisfaction so they can lay the foundation for a secure and enduring recovery from addiction.
To find out more about how we can help you or your loved one, please contact us today.
If we don’t like the way we feel we have the potential to get addicted to anything that changes the way we feel. This includes money for the status, sense of superiority and material things it can give us.
That is perfectly apt as a way to describe what many addictions do to the person who is the addict. But as well to those around them – whether that’s their partner, family, friends, colleagues or very often all of these people.
Addiction is an illness
Understanding addiction is very complex. Both the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association say that addiction is an illness.
Just as with illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, addiction is believed to be caused by environmental, behavioral and biological factors.
One thing all addictions have in common is that they change the way we feel. They release “feel-good” chemicals such as dopamine into the body.
The attraction of distraction
There is also the distraction that an addiction causes. It’s created this way unknowingly – so that the person doesn’t have time to look at or even think for a second about any pain or re-feel it from the life experiences that might be behind why they are addicted to something.
So it’s not just the taking or doing, but also the planning and preparation. Then coping with the hangover, comedown or dealing with any damage caused by the addictive behavior.
It becomes a vicious cycle. If left untreated – as with most serious diseases – it will get progressively worse.
For those addicted to something – as well as many people and the community around them – it’s bewildering, agonizing and causes immense despair. Many addicts don’t even know why they can’t seem to stop.
They continue with the addiction, even when the damage it is causing is obvious. It can even seem to be against their own will.
Addiction expert Dr Gabor Maté says: “I’d say that an addiction manifests in any behavior that a person finds temporary pleasure or relief in and therefore craves, suffers negative consequences from, and has trouble giving up.
Dr Maté’s mantra for all addictions is: “The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.”
He says the source of pain is always to be found in a person’s lived experience. This usually starts in childhood.
“All addictions are attempts to escape the deep pain of the hurt child. These are attempts that are temporarily soothing but ultimately futile.”
For some people the love of money is definitely an addiction. For a clear reason, workaholism can often be connected.
Workaholism is an extremely difficult addiction to realize. This is due to the fact that we live in a system where excessive hard work is not only encouraged but frequently praised.
It’s not unusual to hear someone praised for working 60-plus hours every week. Yet many people who do this will over time develop stress-related physical illnesses as a result, sometimes that prove fatal.
Another thing connected to workaholism is that many people working addictively will be rewarded financially well. They get to love the status that money can give them.
As well as the material things it can buy, which in themselves can create a short-term high and be a distraction as well, there is the feeling of superiority many people get and crave from having lots of money.
It might also be because they have another addiction. This could be such as an addiction to drugs, shopping, plastic surgery, sex (they pay for) and/or gambling.
Craving external validation
It’s the love of money rather than money itself that is the problem. Even when some people are millionaires they cannot stop fixating on money and all it can get and give them.
A great deal of this is to do with the desperate need for external validation. A money addict craves love and approval from outside of themselves because it is not coming from their insides.
Every child needs to be valued and validated. They need to feel loved.
Many people addicted to money had their needs unmet as a child. It could be that their parents were always absent due to their own addictive behavior, that may or may not have been due to the love of money.
If this sense of worth is not given to a child by their parents, it will not be within. For instance, a child who is frequently criticized by their parents will not stop loving their parents – but they will most likely stop loving themselves.
So as an adult they will desperately seek ways to prove they really are lovable. They will not even consciously know they are doing this.
Wealthy from the inside
One way some people think makes them lovable is through having lots of money. This is why for some people it can become an addiction.
But with that comes the fear of losing what they have – the material things, the status, the bank balance… So they live in a continually anxious state.
They are usually always extremely busy doing things. This is to keep the money they have got and to make more of it.
But also, unknowingly to them, it makes for the perfect distraction from painful memories and emotions that they are trying to push away or push down.
Even though they are financially rich, they might not like spending money. This is because they need it not so much for the things it can get them, but for their insides not to feel utterly empty and unlovable.
Some people who have grown spiritually can be equally financially wealthy. But they do not have such an emphasis on having money and material things.
They have realized that their true value comes from within. They know that the most important things in life are not things at all.
Consequently they live a much more serene and content life. They are more likely to be generous with their money.
Consider that the word “wealth” was originally connected to the words “well” and “health”, and the word “health” is related to the word “whole”. So if someone gets cracked, broken or shattered in some way as a child they are extremely unlikely to be undamaged (that is, whole) as an adult. That is, unless they seek professional help from someone who understands these things.
A dysfunctional family is one in which bad behavior, conflicts and frequently abuse and neglect by one or both of the parents happens regularly. Children of dysfunctional families most often grow up in these households thinking this is how every family is behind the doors of their family home.
Dysfunctional families are most frequently because one of the parents is an addict in some way and/or with an undiagnosed or untreated mental health condition. The other parent is most likely to be codependent.
Dysfunctional parents are usually imitating their own dysfunctional parents. This is because as children we all imitate our parents to some degree.
It is likely that these dysfunctional behaviors have been in the “family blueprint” – the family way of being and its rules – for generations.
It is handed down from generation to generation. New generations will not question it because as children we have nothing else to measure it against.
Particularly in the first ten years of life we are being molded – learning how to respond and behave, finding out what’s morally right and wrong. This means that growing up in a dysfunctional family can negatively impact us for the rest of our lives.
Common features of dysfunctional families
Lack of boundaries
It is normal in a dysfunctional family for there to be a relentless amount of criticism, little or no empathy and there is often neglect and abuse. Because of this it leaves all family members with no understanding of what a healthy boundary is for themselves, and consequently how to insist on and enforce one.
There is either between different family members no discussion as it might lead to conflict, or there is almost continual conflict.
Treatment of one or more family members is not steady or fair. This could be due to such as gender, age, birth order, intelligence, abilities or their family role. It means that family rules and norms are inconsistent and confusing.
Healthy communication difficulties
This is not only between themselves but also outside the family. Dysfunctional families are extremely strict about the rule that when it comes to any information about them that: “Nobody must ever know…”
This means living with a belief that their unhealthy family situation is normal or even useful. The denial is usually not overtly conscious, it’s complex and much to do with the fact that there is no concept of what a healthy family is like. The “family blueprint” also hands down moral obligations that if not followed leave a feeling of guilt and even shame as – going back generations – “This is the way our family has always done it.”
What are the dysfunctional family roles?
These can also be known as the “family survival roles”, which to a great extent explains why these roles develop. But it is important to realize that dysfunctional family roles can be flexible.
This means that one family member will mostly be given or adopt one role. But they can also shift to aspects of – or fully at a certain time – another role if changes occur within the family.
The Addict (sometimes known as the Identified Patient or IP) may be addicted to alcohol, drugs and/or behavioral addictions such as work, sex, food, gambling as well as things that change the way they feel like power and rage.
Whether they are in active addiction or getting treatment, they will very often be the family’s focus. Within The Addict role can also be the roles of being a victim, rebel and an offender.
Many people think that a dysfunctional family must always be just about to break apart, that one of the parents will leave the other. But this is frequently in fact not the case at all – because the parents have “found” each other.
A codependent parent gets the external validation they need from the other parent. They feel needed because they feel that The Addict cannot survive life without them.
It’s about desperately seeking love and approval. This is most usually because these basic needs were unmet when they were a child.
So the addiction or addictions are tolerated, often ignored and excuses are readily made for The Addict – because The Codependent is addicted to the relationship. This is the reason that in some cases, The Addict will neglect or abuse their children and yet The Codependent will not stop it or even say anything.
The Codependent may also be addicted to emotions such as anxiety or sadness that serve as distractions from the painful emptiness they feel deep down. This role has many aspects of The Caretaker role that follows, although The Caretaker role is very often adopted by or assigned to one of the family’s children as well.
The Caretaker will be on constant alert to deal with any family issues and conflicts. This will always go ahead of their own personal needs, which is obviously not healthy.
They are the one who takes on the duties and responsibilities of others in the family. They will be continually attempting to save other family members from the consequences of their words and actions.
For a child to take on a parental role in this way is not only sad as it hinders the child’s childhood, it is deeply damaging. They often grow up to subconsciously seek partners with addiction, mental health or chronic health issues.
Because much of their dysfunctional family role is driven by anxiety that the family will fall apart, if they don’t always step in just in time, they are likely to become adults who suffer from stress, anxiety and depression.
As children they will often feel drained. This continues into adulthood and throughout their life, especially as people who had this role in a family find it difficult to relax – they always have to be doing something.
The Golden Child/Hero/Saint/Superkid
This is the child who can do no wrong. Because they are so “perfect” it lets the family believe there is nothing wrong because they have obviously done something right – just like everyone is always telling them.
But The Golden Child will have intense pressure to continue with their achievements or risk exposing the real dysfunction of their family.
They most likely only get attention when they’re achieving something – so they will often become perfectionists and are set up for a stressful life. They only feel as if they are somebody if they are achieving things.
This role is frequently seen in a family with one or both parents suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. A narcissist loves the image of themselves, but not their true self because inside they will always feel unlovable – so they are continually seeking love and approval through their image.
As a rule the atmosphere in a dysfunctional family is tense. The Clown steps into the role of “mood lightener” to avoid something boiling over again.
Consequently, as with The Caretaker they will be on high alert at all times. They will be perpetually ready with some humor or clowning around to act as a distraction from any potential issues.
Each time this works, the pressure is pushed up for them to act in a similar way the next time. This pressure means they will most likely be full of constant anxiety inside.
In adulthood, they will continue to use humor and amusing behavior to deal with any potential conflict, when often an issue really needs to be discussed or faced. They may well end up in a dysfunctional relationship in which they can use their Clown “skills”.
The Lost Child
Where there is a Golden Child there is a Lost Child. They attempt to stay out of the dysfunctional picture as much as possible by staying quiet, on their own and fending for themselves as much as possible.
Their needs are going unmet anyway. Consequently, this child will withdraw, feel alone and desperately yearn for love, approval and attention.
They are unlikely to have positive social skills or healthy self-esteem. This can continue into adulthood and so they will struggle to have any meaningful relationships.
The Scapegoat/Troublemaker/Black Sheep
Someone has to be blamed for the family’s continual problems. The Scapegoat and The Golden Child are often put against each other, which serves to strengthen their dysfunctional family roles.
In actual fact, The Scapegoat is frequently the only emotionally stable one in the family. They are the ones that speak the truth about the family’s dysfunction – but because they have broken the rule that “Nobody must ever know…” the family will make them pay by labelling them as the problem, the cause of all the family’s troubles.
They may only get any attention when they do something that causes a problem. So they cause problems, such as misbehaving at school or getting in trouble with the police.
The Scapegoat is usually assigned their role at a very young age. Then they are from then on in a clear no-win situation because everything they do is seen as “bad” or “wrong”.
It can leave them feeling guilt-ridden and full of shame. This can have obvious negative impacts when they are adults.
In recovery it’s essential to know what dysfunctional family role (or roles) someone might have had. It can help to understand why they are as they are in adulthood.
Speaking with a therapist with expertise in these matters can help someone move on and move into recovery.