They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. But getting to that stage can be a challenge all on its own. In many instances, those who are addicted are the last to realize that their substance abuse has gone from a recreational vice to destructive. Interventions are an attempt to confront those individuals about their detrimental behavior. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. The key to increasing the likelihood of your loved one’s success is knowing how to stage an intervention.
Preparing For The Intervention
Interventions are typically arranged by friends or family members but can be done by anyone who has a relationship with the addicted person. These people will serve as the core group of organizers, the intervention team, and should arrange everything from who else is involved to getting the addicted person at the chosen date and time. It is highly recommended to get help from a professional interventionist, who can help ensure that both the planning and the execution of the intervention go smoothly.
Choosing The Type of Intervention
Perhaps the most important aspect of staging an intervention is deciding what kind of intervention it will be. Most tend to think of the kinds involving a gathering of people who are surprising the addicted person in confrontation. While this is a viable and popular option, it isn’t the only one.
The intervention approach that’s used will determine who is involved, how the topic is broached, and how the recipient of the intervention will be included in the proceedings.
Classic Intervention: A group of people, can be small or large in size, surprise the addicted person with a surprise confrontation.
Simple Intervention: A single person directly addresses the addiction person in a one-on-one approach.
Family System Intervention: When other family members who struggle with the same addiction appeal to the individual to get help and are also heavily involved in the treatment process.
Crisis Intervention: Often impromptu; these occur when the addicted person has become a danger to themselves and concerned loved ones need to stabilize the situation.
Deciding on the Time & Place of the Intervention
This seemingly straightforward aspect of planning an intervention also requires thoughtfulness and care. In addition to finding a time that works for all parties involved, it’s important to choose a time and place that will be the least stressful for the addicted person. This means being mindful of their schedule and what they might have going on. Do they have a stressful job? Don’t confront them immediately after coming home from work. Perhaps they’ve recently undergone a breakup or were involved in a car accident. Also, don’t have an intervention at a time they’re likely to be intoxicated. If they are at the time of the confrontation, it’s in everyone’s best interest to wait until they’ve sobered up.
No matter what kind of intervention, addressing someone’s drug use can be a touchy subject. Emotions will run high and things can quickly spiral out of control. Conduct a run-through of the intervention so that everyone will know when to speak, what they will say, and be in agreement on the expectations of what they want from the addicted person.
During The Intervention
When it comes time to follow through with the intervention, the best way to maximize the odds of a successful outcome is to come prepared. Participants should have rehearsed what they will say and what they want from the addicted person. These conversations should detail how addiction has hurt their relationship with specific examples.
Focus on how addiction has negatively affected your relationship or their lives. Accusations will only make someone defensive and closed off to you. Avoid labels like “addict” or “junkie” which can further alienate the person you are trying to help.
Stick To The Script
Convincing the addicted person that their drug use has become detrimental to themselves and others will likely involve recounting details of previous issues and encounters. There is plenty of opportunity for emotions to arise from either party; the speaker, with frustration; the addicted person, with denial or outrage. For this reason, it’s recommended that those who will be speaking have their statements written down.
Confronting the person and convincing them that their addiction is out of hand is only part of an intervention’s purpose. The ultimate goal is to convince them to seek treatment and get help. As such, it’s crucial to do research about medical detox, rehab programs, or 12 step programs. Be clear in your expectations and include practical information on how you’ll be able to support them to make it happen. The more details you provide, the less room there will be for protest. Look into all the details from payment to logistics to what they could expect.
Set Consequences (and Stick To Them)
If you truly want to convince the addicted person that you are committed to their recovery, you can’t go back on your word. Whether you threaten to stop supporting them financially, cutting them off, or some other means that you may have been enabling them, everyone present must commit to the consequences the addicted person will face if they refuse help.
What If An Intervention Doesn’t Work?
Drug addiction literally rewires the brain and can turn your loved one into an irrational, impulsive person. It’s a very real possibility that an intervention may not be enough to get to them and that it may take several attempts.
While the goal is to get them into a treatment center, peer-based social groups like Alcoholics Anonymous offer a lower-stakes option that the addicted person may feel less resistance towards. There, individuals won’t be required to be abstinent–the only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. Hear the testimonies and triumphs of others who were in similar situations can be a powerful motivating factor, which itself is a major determinant of addiction recovery success.