It can be challenging to determine when to stage an intervention for an addicted loved one. In truth, there is no wrong time to stage an intervention. If you are sincerely concerned for the well-being of a close friend or family member, and if you believe your loved one poses a threat to themselves (or others), there is nothing wrong with doing all you can to provide support and inspire change.
However, there are several important things to consider before beginning to organize an intervention. First of all, be sure that you plan the intervention far in advance – hastily throwing something together last minute can backfire. Secondly, make sure that you have the help of a licensed and experienced professional. Finally, don’t get too attached to the outcome. In many cases, interventions work to “plant the seed,” and treatment may not be immediately sought. Understand that things may not go as expected – but there is no such thing as a “failed” intervention.
Many believe that the sole purpose of every intervention is to get someone who is struggling with drugs or alcohol into treatment. While this is true, of course, interventions serve another equally important purpose – to help the friends and family members of the addict or alcoholic regain control of their lives.
An intervention is a calculated and planned meeting to speak to an individual about their destructive behavior patterns. In many cases, interventions mark the starting point, which saves many people’s lives. Family and friends participate in most interventions and use coordinated efforts to bring up potentially uncomfortable issues. At their core, interventions can help show how an individual’s behavior affects them and the people around them.
If you are planning to stage an intervention, it is vital to understand the following ten steps.
Research shows most successful interventions involve a professional. Professional interventionists are capable of dealing with almost every situation. The guidance of a doctor, interventionist, or social worker may be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful intervention.
Understand the implications of an intervention. Weigh out any possibilities and devise a detailed plan for every outcome. The intervention team must agree on a specific location, date, and time. Don’t be afraid to make an outline of the event and coordinate what each participant will say.
Coordinate a core group of organizers. Even if you choose not to include a professional interventionist, it is okay. A good intervention team generally involves close family members, friends, and sometimes coworkers. Do not involve any individuals that deal with their own substance use issues.
Conduct research on the recovery process. Become familiar with each step of recovery and what it takes to be successful in treatment. Learn about each program treatment facilities offer. Some individuals fit better in certain programs.
Plan what each participant will say. Each person’s impact statement should be directed toward the struggling individual. The intervention team should not blame the individual, instead express their support and concern for any potential harm. Addiction can be detrimental to relationships. The struggling individual should feel their loved one’s concern stems from love and understanding.
Family behaviors sometimes feed into an individual’s addiction. Learn about codependency and enabling. These behaviors must stop if they are present in the household. If your loved one refuses treatment, set firm boundaries with them and let them know there will be repercussions involved. Sometimes uncomfortable changes must occur to push someone to seek help.
Let the struggling person know they will not go through their journey alone. Family and friends participating in the intervention should let their loved ones know they will be present each step of the way. Offer them rides to and from treatment. Family and friends should attend group sessions once their loved one begins treatment.
Interventions are intense and uncomfortable. The team should be prepared as possible, and sometimes that involves rehearsing. Tension is high during interventions. Each person planning to speak should remain calm and remember the points they have planned to get across.
Become aware of any possible outcome. Interventions are not always successful. Take all of the necessary steps to have the best chance of a positive outcome, but be ready for anything. Conduct a plan for each potential scenario.
It can be detrimental to someone’s recovery process to see their support fall through. Make sure each person offering continued support follows up with their promises.
Interventions should always be carefully planned and planned far in advance. Spontaneity never works out, and throwing something together haphazardly can drive your addicted loved one farther away. The first thing you’ll want to do is reach out to the closest friends and family members of the addict or alcoholic. Let them know that you’re planning on staging an intervention, and ask them if they would be willing to participate.
If they are, then ask them to write a letter to present – but make sure they understand that the point of the letter is not to place blame, make accusations, or make the addict or alcoholic feel bad or guilty in any way. The point is to encourage admission to treatment.
The professional interventionist that you hire will look over all of the letters prior to the event to make sure that they encourage rather than spurn defensiveness. Planning the intervention far in advance will help you lock down participants and focus on developing a letter steeped in positivity. “I love you, and I care about you and your well-being. Active addiction leads to negative behavioral changes. There is help available to you.” Always offer a way out.
This information is just a rough guideline of what to expect; the interventionist you bring onboard will give you a far more detailed timeline. An interventionist will also help you determine who should and should not be present at the actual intervention. Aside from staging the actual event, the hired professional will help the family cope with their current circumstances and the outcome, regardless of what it may be.
In many instances, the loved ones of the addict will feel responsible. They will feel as if they could’ve done more or as if there was something they should’ve done differently. The interventionist helps them understand that no one is at fault. It’s the addict’s responsibility to seek treatment once the option is made available.
The interventionist will follow up with the family after the event and point them in the direction of support groups, therapists, and other means of effectively coping. He or she will also help the family understand what to do once the addict returns home from treatment (and what not to do, of course). All in all, the role of the interventionist is to facilitate, help, and educate. Goals will be set, and arrangements will be made.
When staging an intervention, one of two things can happen. Firstly, the outcome that everyone involved is hoping for – the addict responds well and agrees to attend inpatient treatment. Secondly, the addict can refuse treatment. This is a viable option. This is also why boundaries must be set.
You can’t force someone into seeking the help they need, unfortunately. It’s important to remember that your loved one has the freedom to walk away. The important thing is that the seed has been planted, as previously mentioned. But if boundaries are set and maintained, the likelihood that your loved one will seek treatment sometime down the line – sooner rather than later – increases significantly.
For example, you may say something like, “If you refuse to enter detox today, we will completely cut you off financially.” Or, “If you choose not to go to treatment, you will have to cease all communication with you. We love you so, so much, but the choices you’re making are hurting our family.” An interventionist will help you determine which boundaries to set, how to present them, and how to maintain them long-term.
If all goes according to plan, staging an intervention can take an enormous weight off of the shoulders of close friends and family members. However, always be sure that you’re taking the advice of a trusted and licensed professional – never attempt this on your own! If you’re interested in learning more, we’re happy to point you in the right direction. We’re in close communication with many experienced and successful interventionists – simply give us a call and ask to be put into contact.
Take each moment seriously during an intervention. Each participating member must be aware of what to avoid at an intervention. Words such as “junkie,” “addict,” and “alcoholic” are accusatory and generally serve no benefit. Avoid large numbers of people at an intervention; this may be overwhelming for your struggling loved one.
The intervention team should not act out of emotion. Attendees should remain calm and not appear upset. The event should not be based on someone else’s feelings. Avoid conducting an intervention if your loved one shows up under the influence of any substances. Interventions should not be based on any of the following schemes:
There is a proper way to stage an intervention. No two circumstances are the same. Therefore, applying a precise plan to your loved one’s particular situation is necessary. Interventions can be emotionally and physically demanding for everyone involved. Be sure to focus on what is essential within the situation: encouraging your loved one to seek help. If you have any questions about addiction or need assistance with an intervention, please reach out today.