Last updated: 04/2/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Planning an intervention to help a loved one with an addiction takes time and effort but can often be a very successful way of helping the individual realize that they need help. If your friend, family member, or significant other is abusing drugs or alcohol, it could be time to stage an intervention.
What’s an Intervention?
An intervention is a kind of meeting that involves the individual who has been abusing drugs and/or alcohol and those in their life who are closest to them and worried about them. It can be a very helpful option to someone who needs to show their loved one that they are concerned about their drug abuse and want them to seek treatment. Often, a professional interventionist can also be part of the program, in order to keep things on track.
How Do I Stage a Proper Intervention?
Staging an intervention can be tricky, but there are a few key rules you should understand and abide by.
- Interventions usually only require about 6 people who are very close to the individual and will be able to stay calm during the meeting. Therefore, you should only invite those who fit this profile.
- Everyone should plan what they are going to say beforehand and share it with the others who are attending the intervention. This can help keep everyone on message and prevent hurtful things from being said that will not benefit the conversation.
- Encouraging everyone to use “I” statements can also be helpful (“I feel…” “I’m worried…”). This can help to ensure that the individual for whom the intervention has been staged will not feel attacked or become defensive.
- If there is someone who wants to come to the intervention but cannot be there, doesn’t feel that they can keep calm, etc., you can ask them to write a letter that will be read at the event.
- It can be very beneficial to hire a professional to help you with the intervention. Often, this individual can keep everyone on track as well as help the individual understand the seriousness of the situation. It can be especially helpful if no one involved has any experience with this sort of issue.
- It is also a good idea to already have a rehab option in mind for the individual when you go into your intervention. This way, they will not be able to stall or say they will find help and then not do it.
What Should Happen?
When everyone is ready and knows what they’re going to say, you can choose a day for the intervention to occur. Make sure the individual is sober when it does and that everyone understands the severity of the situation. It is very important above all to stay calm and to encourage the others attending the intervention to do so as well. Your loved one is likely to become upset, so if everyone else stays calm, it will probably be a much safer and more successful event.
Sometimes, interventions are completely effective, and the individual realizes their need for treatment. But more often than not, the individual will be unlikely to respond positively, especially at first. If they do not agree to the terms you have set (which usually entail attending treatment), then it is important to have a plan for this eventuality.
- Talk to the others attending the intervention beforehand about what you will all do if your loved one doesn’t agree to get the help they need. You must show the individual that they can no longer count on any enabling behavior on your parts. This could mean that you will not give or loan them any more money, that they will not be able to stay with you, etc.
- Make sure your loved one understands your terms. If they refuse to attend treatment, tell them what will happen.
- Stick to your convictions. Make sure you can keep your promise, as it will be what is best for you and for your loved one.