This is the most commonly asked question for parents and it is more complex then it sounds. It is also the obstacle that parents get stuck on the most often. If they are caught in this place of ambivalence, it's usually because they are crippled with fear or they are in a state of denial. In order to understand the situation, I like to create a simple graph. On one axis, you have Hopelessness and on the other, you have Readiness. I define hopelessness as the collective "gut feeling" the family has about their son's "state of mind". It's important to make this distinction because it is possible to hold things together on the outside while feeling bankrupt on the inside. I ask them to assign a number from 0-10. It's necessary to get multiple opinions because family members will have different experiences with the "person of concern". Then, I ask the same question about Readiness. Readiness is defined as their willingness to reach out to family members for help.
Typically, angry or fearful family members think the "person of concern" needs to be at a 10 on either axis in order to receive help. Their belief is that Hopelessness and Readiness correlate with each other. This is simply not true. Every person has a different pain threshold for consequences and a different experience with asking for help. The reality is that anything above a 5 on the Hopelessness scale is dangerous and anything above a 5 on the Readiness scale is unlikely. To get a more clear picture of where things are going, I ask the family to think back 1-2 years from today and assign numbers to those times as well. Often, family members don't call Interventionists when things are getting better. They call because they are concerned about the path of their loved ones. This will paint a more clear picture of what's at stake for the "person of concern".
Hopelessness and a persons "state of mind" have a huge impact on their personal safety. Unfortunately, some unsafe behaviors don't allow for a second chance. Potential dangers for a person who is a 6 or more on the Hopelessness scale include injury, disease, incarceration, overdose, and suicide. It doesn't make sense to wait for Readiness when their is so much at stake.
The follow-up question after the family has decided that seeking help is necessary is "What if they don't want help?" In my experience, families frequently repeat the same old dance and conversation to no avail. They ask the same questions and get the same answer. Addiction has the upper hand. Having someone who can provide an objective and educated opinion to the individual and family is the most effective way to gain traction. If love from the family could fix the problem, it would have already. Love is still the essential tool in change but without direction, it can manifest into codependency. It is also my opinion that people don't truly like to be in pain. They may be stuck there and they may voice "not caring" but, they do. My philosophy is that each client and family member carries unique strengths gained from situations they've endured throughout their life. You are here because you survived.
Even if families buy into this and they like me, what they really care about is results. In peer reviewed studies of the ARISE Invitational Intervention model, over 75% of clients agreed to treatment after the First Meeting and over 90% agreed within 3 weeks of the First Meeting. There are varying levels of treatment that are decided by the family and professional throughout the process. I haven't ran across any studies that show what the success rate is for families who don't ever seek help but, I can promise they wouldn't look very encouraging when stacked against families who did. All things considered, the process starts the moment you ask the question and listen with an open mind.