If someone you love is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, you may feel at a loss for how to help. Not only does a person with a substance use disorder cause them pain and suffering, but their family and close friends are affected as well. You may be feeling despair, rage, disgust, worry, guilt, or a combination of a complex range of emotions all at once. If you don’t know what else to do, it might be time to stage an intervention.
What Is an Intervention?
An intervention is a planned and structured conversation in which friends, family members, and other loved ones close to the person struggling with substance use disorder come together to compassionately confront the addiction. The participants share their concerns with the individual as well as their affection and support. The goal is to convince, or at least encourage, the person struggling to go into addiction recovery and rehabilitation.
When to Stage an Intervention
Individuals with addiction need to admit to themselves that they have a problem before they are ready for recovery. This can be immensely difficult for them to do on their own, though.
Signs that someone is struggling with a worsening addiction problem may include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Asking for or borrowing money
- Attempts to hide how much they drink or use
- Deterioration of physical appearance
- Health issues
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Problems at work, home, or school
- Secretive behavior
- Unusual mood changes
Components of an Intervention
Interventions are not trials. Your loved one should not feel cornered or judged but loved and supported. To ensure maximum success you will have to do a lot of planning and rehearsing. Fortunately, you can hire a specialist to help you do just that.
Essential components to staging an intervention are:
- Contact an intervention specialist: Undertaking an intervention is a momentous task and should not be done alone. Not only will you need the support of family and friends, but we strongly recommend enlisting the help of an intervention specialist. A specialist will not only help you prepare but will also join you during the confrontation to keep things calm and productive.
- Do your research: In addition to consulting with an intervention specialist, you should conduct your own extensive research on interventions. This will help you explain what is going on to the participants as well as achieve a better idea of what to expect.
- Form an intervention group: Reach out to a few of the people closest to the person with addictions, such as their parents, siblings, partners, coworkers, and close friends. Interventions can become intense, so make sure the people involved are willing to go through the experience. Keep the core group small to ensure things stay on track.
- Write an impact statement: Your intervention specialist will guide you through the process of composing a letter to read to your loved one who is suffering from addiction during the intervention. You should use language that is positive and supportive to state factually and without blame how the individual with addictions’ behavior has hurt you. The letter should end with you offering to support your loved one if they get treatment but making it clear that you will no longer enable their addiction if they choose not to get help.
- Rehearse the intervention: You can’t just wing an intervention. You and the other participants must meet with your intervention specialist to rehearse what to say and how to go about it.
- Set a meeting time and place: Choose a familiar, non-threatening, and private location and set aside at least a couple of hours. Also, make sure to choose a time during which your loved one will be sober, or at least at their most lucid.
- Be prepared for anything: Despite your good intentions, your loved one may react in a confrontational or even hostile manner, even if their disposition is normally very much the opposite. Try your best to stay calm if things get heated. Your intervention specialist will have experience in conflict resolution and can alleviate the situation.
- Hold the individual with addiction accountable: While you cannot force them to get help, you and your cohorts can agree not to enable the individual with addiction going forward. Just because they decide not to get treatment doesn’t mean you have to continue to be affected by their choices. Make sure to keep whatever promises or ultimatums you make.
An intervention can be a lengthy and emotionally draining process for everyone involved. We highly recommend that you take the time to thoroughly plan ahead and consult with an intervention specialist.