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9 Tips on How to Do an Intervention Successfully

By May 25, 2018 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
Man in intervention therapy meeting

It’s hard to admit, you’ve tried to deny it, but you can’t anymore. Someone you love is struggling with addiction and it’s time you do something. If you don’t, the situation will only become worse. They may not admit their problem and involuntary commitment to a drug or alcohol rehab is not an option.

It is time to stage an intervention. You’ve seen interventions on TV shows and movies, even the reality show Intervention. You used to find these shows entertaining, but now they hit too close to home. That’s when you knew you really had to do something.

Here are tips on how to do an addiction intervention successfully to help someone you love.

1. Understand Exactly What An Intervention Is

You’ve heard the word “intervention” thrown around a lot. Sometimes jokingly like, “if Becky wears that You Can’t Squat With Us shirt to pilates one more time, we need to stage an intervention.”

But this time it’s no laughing matter. An intervention is a structured conversation between loved ones and an addict and is often under the supervision of an intervention specialist.

If done properly and successfully, a structured intervention can help the loved ones of an addict express their feelings effectively and constructively and help the addict seek treatment.

If you tried talking individually to the addict about their problem and you’re still not seeing change, then it’s time for a group intervention. Interventions can be a good wake-up call, as they help show addicts how their actions affect those they care about. Interventions also allow addicts to see that they need help and have support.

The goal of an intervention is to help your loved one with a problem get into addiction recovery and rehabilitation. Reality shows that have popularized interventions over the past few years often show a false sense of how interventions actually work. Interventions should always provide encouragement, support, and incentive for the person struggling to seek help.

2. Know How to Do An Intervention And What It Should Focus On

Interventions should always focus on the positive and suggest paths towards hope and change. While it’s important for the person in need to understand how their actions are affecting their loved ones, it’s important to balance that fine line between understanding and placing blame.

Instead, focus on how addiction causes negative behaviour. But make sure you stress it is going to be okay because there’s a solution: a medical detox and rehabilitation program.

It’s important that interventions are carefully planned and not spontaneously thrown together. Family and friends need to make sure they know what they are going to say, and when and where the intervention will take place.

It’s important that everyone stays on topic, and no one places blame, makes accusations or says hurtful things that may make the person in need not want to get help.

3. Realize And Accept When It’s Time for an Intervention

It is hard to admit that someone you love has a problem. It’s normal at first to think things like:

  • What will other people think?
  • Do I have a problem too?
  • Is this all my fault?

Try not to focus on those questions, and instead focus and accept the problem at hand: your loved one who is struggling with addiction.

Addicts are often in denial about their condition and may not realize the harm they are causing to themselves and others. Which is why you should be aware of the signs of addiction and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this person spending a large amount of their income on alcohol and or drugs? Are they always borrowing money?
  2. Have they been arrested for driving under the influence?
  3. Is this person lying or trying to hide evidence of their behaviour, for example by hiding bottles of alcohol and pills?
  4. Has their appearance changed or deteriorated? Did they used to look fresh and clean and now do they always seem disheveled?
  5. Does this person often forget what they did or said the night before?
  6. Has this person been isolating themselves and avoiding things they used to love like being around other people?
  7. Did this person used to be responsible and now are they just getting by?
  8. Does this person often have mood swings or signs of aggressive behaviour?
  9. Have you noticed a lack of energy and motivation? Are they having problems at work or school?
  10. Has this person been experiencing more health issues than before?

If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions then it’s time for an intervention. It’s better to intervene sooner rather than later as addictions only get worse over time. It’s better to act now before the consequences become even worse.

There is nothing shameful about admitting your loved one needs help. Tens of millions of people in the United States alone struggle with addiction. A 2015 study found that 32 million adults struggled with a serious drinking problem, while 27 million used drugs.

Many addicts also struggle with other problems, such as depression or eating disorders. This will influence their behaviour.

4. Get Support

Educate Yourself

Learn as much as you can about alcoholism and addiction so you can understand and sympathize with what your loved one is experiencing. Bringing misinformation into the problem can make matters worse.

Learn about the substance your loved one is abusing. Become familiar with addiction and the recovery process. Find information about detox and rehabilitation programs, and understand how the process works.

There are even support groups like Al-Anon and Codependents Anonymous that offer support for the friends and families of addicts.

Hire Or Consult With An Expert

If you can afford it, it’s a great idea to hire a certified intervention professional. This person can coach family members and close friends to make sure they say what they need to say while preventing strong emotions from boiling over.

An intervention professional can also moderate the intervention, help set up rehabilitation services, and work with your family as the individual begins recovery.

Interventionists can charge anywhere between $1,500 to $20,000 depending on the depth and length of services. If you can’t afford an interventionist, you could also hire counsellors familiar with addiction, to coach and mediate the intervention. This tends to be cheaper as counsellors usually charge on an hourly basis.

5. Form Your Intervention Team

After you’ve contacted and consulted with a professional interventionist, social worker, counsellor or doctor, it’s now time to form the team of family and friends that will be at the intervention.

Support for this process is essential, you don’t want to do all this work alone.

Your intervention team typically should consist of only close family members, friends, and coworkers. If one of these people happens to also be a person who is currently struggling with their own substance abuse issues, it is advised to not have them on the team.

Everyone on your intervention team should also willing and able to support their loved one in some capacity during this process. This means not only showing up at the intervention, but also being there while the person goes their detox, rehabilitation, and long-term recovery.

This support could be offering rides to treatment, visiting the addict in rehab, attending therapy sessions or support group meetings, and checking in with the addict long after rehab is done.

6. Plan The Intervention

Once you formed your team and selected your expert, it’s time to make a plan for the intervention. This includes scheduling a day, time and location and making sure those logistics work for everyone on your team.

In addition to the logistics, it’s also important you have an outline of how the process will work and what everyone will say.

Rehearse or practice with the team. It’s important that everyone is on the same page and focused.

Be aware that interventions are emotional. Avoid taking too much time placing blame or feeling sorry for yourself. The whole team should rehearse with everyone at least once before the intervention.

Impact Statements

Everyone at the intervention should have impact statements prepared. These statements should be personal about how the addiction has harmed a loved one. Relationships can really suffer from substance abuse.

Carefully thought out statements about how the addict’s behaviour has affected the ones they loved, can help the addict understand they are not alone, and they’re not the only one struggling.

These statements should come from a place of honesty and love, and avoid any blame or judgment. Impact statements are not personal attacks.

7. Be Direct, Honest, and Kind

Again, there’s a fine line between being direct and honest, while not attacking the addict. Understand where this line is drawn. The intervention should be more focused on how concerned friends and family members are about the person struggling.

It is important to provide specific examples of how the addicts’ behaviour is affecting their loved ones, but you must do this without criticizing. If you start blaming the addict for why you can’t sleep or why you’re on anxiety medication, that person can feel attacked and less likely to agree to accept help.

While it’s important to let your loved one who has a problem know that you care for them and support them, it’s equally important for this person to know and understand if they don’t seek help there will be consequences.

With these consequences also come boundaries. It’s important to set boundaries if the addict refuses treatment, they should be aware that relationships with friends and family will change. Everyone present at the intervention should commit to ending codependency and enabling behaviours with the addict.

For example, a wife can tell her husband he will have to move out of the home if he doesn’t go to rehab, but for this to work, the people at the intervention must keep their word and follow through.

8. Have a Rehab Center Lined Up

Make sure that your arrangements are made with the rehabilitation centre before your intervention. Do the right research to ensure that this centre is familiar with the substance your loved one is abusing, and that they know how to treat it.

You want the addict to be able to go to rehab right away, giving them a night or even a few hours could change his or her mind. Quitting drinking and drugs without medical supervision can be incredibly dangerous. Addicts can suffer terrible withdrawal systems if they suddenly stop drinking or using drugs.

9. Be Realistic

Keep your post intervention and post-rehab expectations in check to avoid disappointment. If the intervention is successful and the person agrees to go to rehab, realize this isn’t the end of the process.

Alcoholism, cocaine abuse or heroin addiction are chronic conditions, and recovery is an ongoing journey, not an event. There will be ups and downs, good days and bad days. Which explains why Alcoholic Anonymous encourages their member to take it a day at a time.

Be aware that unlike on TV sometimes and often the addict will not accept help, even with a well planned out intervention.

There’s a number of reasons why someone will not want help. If they do not want help, know that you have to follow through with consequences and boundaries.

Whether the addict accepts help or not, it is important to follow up and stay true to the statements you and your team made during the intervention.

Don’t Wait

It’s important to stress again, the longer addiction goes without treatment the worse it will become.

If a loved one is dealing with addiction and it is dramatically affecting their lives and the lives of those around them, you now know how to do an intervention.

Interventions can feel overwhelming and stressful, which is why you must be sure to have the support of friends, family members and a professional. Interventions should never be spur of the moment. Make sure everyone is on the same page and offers compassion and support and never judgment or blame.

💡 Another Option: “Addiction Rehab At Home”
Sometimes, interventions do not work because the addict doesn’t want to leave home or work to go to a rehab centre.
If applicable, your loved one can also get structured and comprehensive addiction treatment in the comfort of their home, at their convenience.
Consider Virtual Addiction Treatment option as it may be easier to commit for your loved one.

It’s important to have a plan after the intervention, like arrangements at an addiction rehabilitation center. It’s equally important to understand the addict may not want help, in which case everyone should be sure to let that person know there will be consequences and boundaries.

For more information and support on how to help a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, check out our blog or contact us. We’re here for you.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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