“…an intervention is about interrupting self-destructive behaviors with love. We are reminding someone that we care, we pay attention, and we see them for what they really are. And we know they are bigger and better than their nonsense of addiction, and will help hold them accountable to making change.”
~Kathy L., The Intervention Book: Stories and Solutions from Addicts, Professionals, and Families
When you love someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, time is of the essence. Addiction is an insidious, progressive disease that can take the life of the sufferer and ruin the lives of everyone around them. The best time to get help for a suffering substance abuser is ALWAYS right now.
One of the most powerful tools that a person can use to help their addicted loved one get the help they need is a professionally-staged addiction intervention.
What Is an Addiction Intervention?
An addiction intervention is a planned and structured process where the people around the addict/alcoholic – friends and family members – lovingly yet firmly confront the person about the true impact and consequences of their disease and try to convince them to accept help in the form of addiction rehab.
How Does a Typical Addiction Intervention Work?
This loving confrontation is actually a well-thought-out step-by-step process:
- Plan with a Professional– An intervention is an emotionally-charged, potentially volatile situation, but if negative feelings such as anger and resentment boil over, then there is a risk that the real message – that rehab is needed – will be lost.
Employing the services of a qualified and experienced interventionist will ensure that the confrontation stays “on point”.
- Gather Information and Make Arrangements–Family members need to educate themselves about the disease of addiction and to what extent it has manifested in their loved one.
They also need to take care of the logistical concerns – what drug rehab resources are available in their area and perhaps even pre-register for services in a specific program.
- Assemble the Intervention Team –These are the people who will participate in the actual intervention– the friends and family members who are closest to have the most influence with the substance abuser. Do not let the addict/alcoholic know what is going on.
It is important that the intervention team meets before the actual date of the planned confrontation in order to agree on the consistent message that they want to each convey individually. The focus of these meetings should be on shared solutions, not individual grievances. Set a specific place, date, and time for the planned intervention.
- Set Personal Boundaries and Specific Consequences– If the substance abuser declines the offer for help, each person in attendance needs to be prepared to take a specific course of action in response. Examples might include:
- Ending financial support
- Having no contact with the substance abuser
- Stopping visitation with their children
- Kicking them out of the house
- Write Everything Down–In such an emotional situation, it can be easy to forget what you actually wanted to say, so to communicate clearly, it’s best to take notes about what you want to get across.
It is important that each person in attendance lists specific examples of how their life has been negatively impacted by the substance abuser’s addictive behaviors – “I felt hurt when you…”
- Conduct the Intervention –Everyone on the intervention team– including the professional interventionist – needs to assemble at the agreed-upon location before the substance abuser gets there.
When that person arrives, each person in attendance will have the opportunity to speak directly to them. After listing the ways that their lives have been negatively impacted by the addiction, each speaker needs to clearly state what specific consequences will occur if the addicted person refuses help. These cannot be empty threats.
- Follow Up, No Matter What Happens–One of two things typically happens:
Ideally, the addicted loved one agrees to go to drug and/or alcohol rehab. If this is the case, then it is important that they leave for treatment right away and that they receive support and encouragement while they are in rehab. Family involvement is key to avoiding relapse.
If, on the other hand, the offer of treatment is refused, then each person needs to follow through with their stated consequences. This only changes when the substance abuser agrees to get help.
What the Interventionist Needs to Know
In order to help you best plan the intervention and make the proper recommendations as to needed services, there are a few things that the interventionist will need to know:
- A brief recap of the person’s drug history and behaviors
- If the person has ever been diagnosed or shown signs of serious mental illness
- If the person has ever exhibited any suicidal or violent tendencies
Addiction interventions are always emotionally charged, as old hurts and resentments are brought up. It is easy for the confrontation to spiral out of control. For this reason, it is always best to involve a professional who can guide the process dispassionately, thereby maximizing the chances of a successful outcome.
If you have further questions about how to hold an intervention or you have any questions about treatment options for your loved ones, contact NorthPoint Recovery today – Idaho’s #1 inpatient addiction recovery program – to get the help and support you need.
NorthPoint has 24/7 medical supervision and the highest staff-to-patient ratio in the entire Pacific Northwest region, ensuring that your loved one gets the personal attention that they need as they begin their sober journey.
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