It can be extremely difficult to determine when to stage an intervention for an addicted loved one. In truth, there is really 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. And 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 soul purpose of every intervention is to get someone who is struggling with drug or alcohol into treatment. While this is true, of course, interventions serve another, equally as important purpose – to help the friends and family members of the addict or alcoholic regain control of their lives.
More on Interventions – Plan in Advance
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.
Enlist a Professional Interventionist
This is just a rough guideline of what to expect – the interventionist that you bring onboard will give you a far more detailed timeline.The 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 – cope with their current circumstances, and cope with 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 – that it is 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 in understanding 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.
Expect the Unexpected
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 it’s extremely important that boundaries are 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 greatly. 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, will have to cease all communication with you. We love you so, so much, but the choices you’re making are hurting our family.” The 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.