An intervention is a strategic way of confronting a person who needs help with their addiction and requesting that they receive treatment in order to recover. Intervention can be a very valuable first step for some individuals and families as it can help put everyone on the same page and sort through the emotions and consequences of substance abuse. You may even help save the life of a loved one who is struggling with addiction yet refuses to accept treatment.
If your loved one is in denial about his or her addiction- even though it’s apparent to everyone else that alcohol or drug abuse is causing negative consequences in his and others’ lives- an intervention may be the answer. Denial is a way of coping with traumatic events, feeling vulnerable, or threats to one’s sense of psychological well-being. But when it comes to chronic drug abuse and addiction, denial can lead to serious problems, including a worsening of the addiction.
Locate an Intervention Specialist
Before moving forward with confronting your loved one about their drug or alcohol abuse, seek out a professional who has experience conducting and planning addiction interventions. An intervention specialist will keep the lines of communication open and help guide the intervention process.
These professionals also have the necessary tools to help people overcome their denial and realize they need help. A professional will guide you and your family members or team in how to prepare for an intervention, how to approach the addict, and how to speak without blame or judgment in a way that will encourage the person to accept treatment.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 90 percent of interventions performed in conjunction with a trained addiction specialist to coordinate the process are successful in having the addicted person accept treatment¹.
Gather the Appropriate People
Important people in your loved one’s life should be present at the intervention. These individuals are most aware of the physical and emotional changes that are taking place in the person’s life.
A group of three to six adults who hold a place of importance in the life of the person they are trying to help is a large enough gathering. The intervention specialist will help you determine who should be present at the intervention. Those people should primarily include immediate or close family members, intimate friends, possibly employers or coworkers, and spiritual advisors.
Have a Plan
An intervention professional can help you prepare for what needs to be said during the intervention. Before deciding what to say, each member of the intervention team needs to be as educated as possible about the disease of addiction and the recovery process. This helps ensure that everyone is equipped with the knowledge they need to convince the addict to get help.
Everyone should plan in advance what they will say. This could be a short story describing how the addicted person has hurt them, information about addiction and how it changes brain chemistry or giving the addict some clarity about their current situation. Rehearsing these lines ahead of time can help make everyone comfortable and confident in what they will say.
Although you can prepare for an intervention, you can’t predict how the person will react when confronted. A professional can help you learn and prepare to remain calm if the situation escalates or gets out of control. The main goal of an intervention is to have the person in need realize they are in denial and commit to getting treatment. A treatment facility and plan should be prearranged before the intervention so the person can immediately enter treatment if they agree².
It’s easy to fall into the habit of putting your addicted loved one’s needs first, but it’s important to establish boundaries and avoid becoming too involved in their problems.
Enforcing boundaries doesn’t mean that you need to turn your back on your loved one. You could agree to help them look for work but refuse to lend them money or pay for their expenses. When you define clear boundaries and stick to them, you protect your own physical and emotional health, and you force the addicted person to deal with the natural consequences of their behavior.