If your loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, sometimes an intervention is necessary and the most effective way to convince them to get the professional help they need. The term intervention is used loosely by people who may not even be sure what an intervention really is. The following is an outline that will explain what an intervention is, what happens during an intervention, and suggested tips on how to plan and execute a successful intervention for your addicted loved one.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is a pre-planned meeting that involves intervening in the life or behavior of a person with the common goal of changing the behaviors of the individual or the outcome of the present situation. An intervention is a common practice for the loved ones of an addict who see that their loved one’s addiction is detrimental and potentially fatal. The goal of staging an intervention is to attempt to help their addicted loved one while also ending their own roles in enabling the addict. It is often suggested that an intervention includes an ultimatum presented to the addict. An intervention might even include the resources of a professional interventionist, but others may not.
What Happens During an Intervention?
During an intervention, a group of people come together and lovingly confront the person addicted to drugs and alcohol, with the goal of persuading the individual to seek professional help at a drug and alcohol rehab facility. Group members are often made up of close friends, partners, spouses, parents, children, and other extended family members of the person struggling with addiction. Before executing an intervention, it is important that the members participating in the intervention make a plan for the intervention. Here are a few steps you will need to take when planning an intervention:
In the pre-planning stage, loved ones of the addict should meet together to discuss the need for an intervention. It is important that everyone participating in the intervention knows not to inform the addict about the meeting. It is always a good idea to do some research and bring literature on the disease of addiction for participants to educate themselves on the true nature of substance use disorder.
All participants should take this time to share their individual experiences with the addict so the extent of the addiction is clear. It is also important for the members who stage the intervention to share their feelings, ideas, questions, and concerns about the intervention. During the pre-planning, you should decide on an appropriate time and location for the intervention. You should choose a location that your loved one feels comfortable in such as their own home or that of a family member or close friend. The goal is to minimize the addicted individual from feeling cornered and ultimately wanting to flee. A comfortable, neutral environment is the most fitting for an intervention.
Preparing Speeches Beforehand
When you and your loved ones begin to plan an intervention, you will write down and plan your speeches ahead of time. You do not want your loved one to feel cornered, judged, or attacked during the intervention. Therefore, it is important everyone chooses their words wisely and prepares a speech in order to stay focused. Everyone participating in the intervention needs to make impactful statements without scaring the addict or making the individual feel attacked.
A key tactic in effectively preparing a speech for your addicted loved one is to first discuss the memories you share with them before their addiction, what the relationship is like now that they are addicted, and ultimately present an ultimatum to the addict if he/she does not leave for treatment. It is important that everyone uses a consistent tone of using “I” statements when speaking with the addict. For example, “I am hurt by your actions.” as opposed to, “you are hurting me.” This simple approach helps minimize the naturally defensive nature of your addicted loved one. The most important reason for preparing your “letters” or speeches before the intervention is because the tone must remain stern. However, everyone must also remain as calm as possible without reacting to the addict’s emotional outbursts if they occur.
An interventionist or addiction specialist specializes in planning and executing interventions to help individuals suffering from addiction. These individuals are trained professionals that often have a background in social work, drug abuse counseling, psychology, and even psychiatry. It is possible to conduct and plan an intervention without the help of a professional interventionist. However, an interventionist may be helpful if your loved one struggles with any of the following:
- Violent outbursts
- Mental Illness
- Suicidal tendencies
- Abusive behaviors
The Goal of an Intervention
The number one goal of an intervention is to motivate an addict towards entering a substance abuse treatment program. Eliminating enabling behaviors and setting boundaries during an intervention often pushes addicted individuals towards accepting professional help for their addiction. Members of the group will highlight specific, definitive ways that addiction affects them and this tactic also helps the addict how profound their substance abuse is.
An intervention is often the turning point in showing your addicted loved one how their addiction is hurting the people around them, and most importantly, themselves. If you feel an intervention is necessary for your loved one, there is a chance that your loved one’s addiction may prevent him/her from being willing to cooperate. It is important you maintain a calm demeanor as you let your loved one know how their addiction is hurting everyone around them. An intervention is not the appropriate time to gang up on or let out your anger on your addicted loved one. The goal of an intervention is to potentially save your addicted loved one’s life. If you and your family are struggling because of a family member’s addiction, do not hesitate to reach out to PAX Riverbend today!
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.