Staging an Intervention with a Loved One

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a structured conversation between loved ones and an individual struggling with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), often supervised by an intervention specialist. Successful interventions can help loved ones express their feelings constructively. If simply talking to the person with the problem doesn’t work, a group intervention is an effective next step. Interventions also help show those with SUDs how their actions affect those they care about. The goal is to help the person struggling to get into addiction recovery and rehabilitation. We’re here to outline staging an intervention with a loved one successfully. 

staging an intervention

Staging an Intervention with a Loved One Successfully

Learn About Their Addiction 

When looking in from the outside, it seems obvious that your loved one should seek treatment for their problem. However, life is a lot more complicated for them than what you see on the outside. Addictions can be complex, with many people, life experiences, and circumstances playing their roles. Mental illness can make the possibility of recovery even harder.

For many people living with drug addiction, they cannot see their problem. The nature of their addiction prevents them from identifying issues. While you can do your best to show them the light, know that their headspace may make it hard for them to understand. And because they can’t understand you, it’s important that you do your best to understand them.

Form Your Support Group

Once on board, the enlisted professional helps family and friends create an intervention strategy. There’s no one-size-fits-all plan for staging an intervention. These specialists work with intervening parties to address their loved one’s specific needs. Some people who might help convince a loved one to start rehab include parents, siblings, spouses or partners, co-workers, and close friends.

Some intervention groups might consider including children, grandparents, and other family members. However, young children and elderly family members must be prepared for intense moments during the confrontation.

Have a Plan 

A spontaneous intervention will not go well for the concerned person or for the addict. Instead of acting on an impulse, take the time to outline a detailed plan for the intervention. Know what you are going to say, as well as what others wish to say. Have a plan for who will speak first and who will mediate. In interventions organization is key.

Make Notes of What You Would Like to Say

When staging an intervention, each team member describes specific incidents where the addiction caused problems, such as emotional or financial issues. Discuss the toll of your loved one’s behavior while still expressing care and the expectation that he or she can change. Your loved one can’t argue with facts or with your emotional response to the problem. For example, begin by saying “I was upset and hurt when you drank …”

Approach the Intervention with Love and Support

It’s normal to feel angry about your loved one’s drug abuse and their disinterest in seeking addiction treatment. While staging an intervention, you don’t want to blow up, yell, or even roll your eyes. They need to feel supported right now, and even justified judgment will not help your cause.

Consider Having Help When Staging an Intervention 

Having a medical professional or social worker present during an intervention is helpful because they can play a neutral role. Since they likely will not be emotionally invested in the situation, they will be able to help mediate the conversation and try to keep the peace. Having a health professional present is also ideal because if the addict agrees they need help, a professional can point them in the right direction for treatment.

Have a Plan for Treatment

Since the end goal of an intervention is to get the addict to accept help, it is important to have a plan in place should they agree. If you do not, it could seem like you were not prepared and the addict will have more time to change his or her mind before accepting help. Having a plan could mean having a specific treatment center lined up and waiting, or having a health professional at the intervention to answer questions and provide guidance.

Prepare an Ultimatum 

An intervention that turns into an argument is likely to go nowhere. Addicts enjoy arguments because they allow them to stay in denial. If the person refuses treatment, relationships with friends and family must change. Everyone present should commit to ending codependency and enabling behaviors. Be clear that there will be consequences if the person refuses help.

For example, tell them they are no longer welcome in the family home unless they get help, or may no longer see their children until they stop using. Sometimes, though not always, this can be the push an addict needs to realize what their behavior is doing to their life and that they need to change it.

Mistakes to Avoid When Staging an Intervention 

Choosing the Wrong People to Attend 

One of the most important things to choose when staging an intervention is deciding who should and should not be there. It’s important to stress that if someone is chosen to not be present during an intervention, it is not a question of whether they care for the addict or not.

A good example may be that one parent can be present but not another. This can be difficult to hear and endure for that parent, but it is for the best. Relationships within families and friends can be complicated, the last thing that will help is having the conversation derailed into past events and retellings of perceived misdeeds.

Using the Wrong Tone

When you are hosting an intervention, your tone of voice is of the upmost importance. Your loved one will likely be experiencing distressing emotions and they may even feel like they are being ganged up on. If you allow your tone to become defensive, accusatory, or negative in any manner, you risk them walking out of the intervention altogether.

Because of this risk, having a positive and supportive tone (no matter what your loved one says or does) is extremely important. They need to know that you are here for them no matter what, even if they are not behaving how you would like them to. 

Choosing the Wrong Time

Truth be told, you wouldn’t want to face people at your worst moment. Unless it’s inevitable. Likewise, the patient wouldn’t feel comfortable when you come to them when they’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

When your loved ones are high or drunk, they may not even recognize you. They wouldn’t want to be told what to do at that moment. Therefore, approach your loved one when they are sober for meaningful conversation.

Not Continuing Support After the Intervention

This is probably the most damaging mistake you could make during an intervention. If you are asking your loved one to attend addiction treatment and offering your support during the intervention, that needs to continue after the meeting is over. Even after your loved one attends treatment and completes a program, they will still need your support. Familial support is a vital aspect of addiction recovery and can make your loved one’s recovery process go much smoother.

Do You Need Help Staging an Intervention with a Loved One? 

Does your loved one need an intervention? Beware of these issues that can impede the process and water down your efforts to get them help. Take the right steps to help them start the journey towards sobriety. Once your loved one is ready for a recovery process, Little Creek Recovery is here for you.

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