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Watching a loved one suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction is painful. Sometimes having a heartfelt conversation with the person is enough to motivate them to seek help. However, often the person with a substance use disorder struggles to accept the severity of their problem or refuses to acknowledge the problem at all. Staging an intervention is often a successful way to encourage a loved one to accept their addiction and agree to get help.
What Is an Intervention?
An intervention is not addiction treatment. It is a carefully planned attempt by those who care about the individual to persuade them to stop using drugs or alcohol on their own or enter a treatment program. The intervention typically works best when organized and overseen by a doctor or professional interventionist. During the process, family members and/or friends confront their loved one and explain how the person’s substance use has affected them. They also set boundaries for the loved one, which include the consequences of refusing to accept treatment. For example, the family may decide to take away the person’s car or ask them to move out until they are ready to get treatment.
It is essential to have a prearranged treatment plan to offer your loved one that includes steps, guidelines, and goals. Do your research beforehand to find a treatment center that is appropriate for your loved one and is accepting new clients. Ideally, the person will agree to enter the treatment center the same day as the intervention. Be prepared and have all arrangements made ahead of time.
The Intervention Team
The intervention team usually consists of four to six people, not including the professional. The people chosen should be important to the loved one, the people they love, respect, and depend on. For example, adult relatives, best friends, or members of their faith community might participate. The intervention professional will help you decide who should be part of the intervention team.
The Mayo Clinic suggests not including anyone on the team who:
- Your loved one dislikes
- You feel might sabotage the intervention
- May be unable to limit what they say to what was agreed upon during the planning of the meeting
- Has an unmanaged substance abuse problem or mental health issue
Learn About Addiction & Your Loved One
Holding an intervention will help everyone understand that addiction is a chronic brain disease. Before the intervention, take the time to learn about substance abuse and addiction. Learn the effects drugs and alcohol have on the brain. Learn about detox and the recovery process. Try to determine what made your loved one turn to drugs or alcohol.
Plan What You Will Say
Once you decide on what you are planning to say to your loved one, rehearse it. Talk it over with your team. You have to be well prepared when you confront the individual. By practicing what you are going to say, you will be confident and have a better chance of making an impact on the person. While you want to explain the toll your loved one’s addiction has taken on you, you also want to assure them that you care about them and believe they can change. Avoid making “you” statements. These statements place the blame on your loved one. Using “I” statements lets them know how you feel. “I” statements show them how you were personally affected by their behaviors.
Offer to Help During Recovery
Everyone at the intervention should let their loved one know how they will support them during their recovery process. For example, they may attend support group meetings or family therapy sessions with the person, or offer rides to treatment each week. By offering help, you are letting your loved one know they are not alone. You are telling your loved one that you care about them and their recovery.
Ten Tips to Help Ensure a Successful Intervention
Always remember that intense emotions among family members and friends will need to be managed during the intervention. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following tips to ensure a successful intervention:
- Never hold an intervention on the spur of the moment.
- Plan when and where the intervention will take place.
- Do your homework.
- Appoint one person to act as a liaison for the group.
- Share information among all team members.
- Hold a rehearsal intervention.
- Anticipate any objections your loved one may have.
- Avoid anger and confrontation.
- Keep the intervention on the planned track.
- Ask your loved one for an immediate decision.
A successful intervention must be planned carefully to work as intended.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help is available. You are not alone. Call and speak to a caring professional at Canyon Vista Recovery Center, located in Mesa, Arizona. Now is the time to take the first step on the path to recovery.