9 Tips for Staging an Intervention

Staging an intervention for someone who is struggling with addiction is intimidating. You want to help this person, but you have heard that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. You’re worried that your plan will backfire, pushing away your loved one instead of showing them that they have your support.

Pros and Cons of Staging an Intervention

The goal of an addiction intervention is to encourage someone with substance abuse problems to seek treatment. However, the individual may be in denial about the addiction. They may not think that they have a problem, and they might not see how it impacts their life and those of others around them.

During an intervention, you’ll try to make the person with the addiction aware of the issues surrounding their substance abuse. Conducting an intervention involves explaining your concerns about the substance abuse and the way that it is affecting the individual and their loved ones. You’ll share the ways in which the addiction has been damaging for you. You’ll also propose a structured treatment plan and help the individual take advantage of it.

The benefits of an intervention include:

  • Raising awareness about the substance abuse problem
  • Demonstrating that the person with the addiction has social support
  • Providing a chance for friends and family members to heal
  • Setting clear boundaries for current and future behavior and interactions

Some of the downsides of an intervention are that they:

  • Are emotionally charged
  • Don’t guarantee that treatment will be successful
  • Can disrupt relationships
  • May make the individual with the addiction more resistant to assistance

How to Have a Successful Intervention

If you have avoided arranging an intervention because you are afraid of disastrous results, you should know that the process can be successful. At best, the individual with the addiction seeks treatment. At worst, they continue with their substance abuse, continuing along the path that they were already on.

The following intervention tips will help you conduct a successful intervention for someone who is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction.

1. Pick the Right Team

One advantage of staging an intervention is that you don’t have to do it alone. Bringing together a group of people who are supportive and relevant to the addict’s life makes the process more impactful for the individual with the addiction. It also relieves some of the pressure that you may feel to help the person on your own.

Consider the following when you’re choosing a team for the intervention:

  • Select reliable people who won’t back out at the last minute.
  • Choose individuals who have a positive relationship with the addict.
  • Pick helpful, inspirational people.
  • Gather individuals who can express how the addiction has impacted them without becoming overly emotional.
  • Consider including letters from people who don’t attend the intervention in person.

2. Choose an Interventionist

Although you can stage an intervention without a professional, working with an interventionist helps things go smoothly. A professional knows how to phrase things to demonstrate compassion and reduce conflict. They can also guide the meeting if things become hostile or confrontational.

There are several models for holding an intervention. Ask the interventionist about the model that they use to ensure that it’s right for your situation. The professional can also help you make plans for appropriate treatment.

3. Schedule the Intervention

An impromptu intervention is not ideal. Choose a time when the person with the addiction is least likely to be under the influence. It’s challenging to address important issues with someone whose mind is not clear enough to process the information.

4. Choose the Right Intervention Location

You want the target of the intervention to feel comfortable. However, they may be too comfortable if you stage the intervention in their living room. Still, the person with the addiction should feel safe. Choose a place that’s neutral and private. A therapist’s office or a trusted friend’s house is an excellent option.

5. Write a Script for the Intervention

You’re not going to be judged on your monologue memorization skills. It’s more important that you say everything that you need to express in the clearest, most compassionate way. That’s why it’s essential that you write a script to address the person with the addiction.

Do not involve anger, blame, judgment or shame in the script. Instead, encourage each team member to speak from the heart and express their emotional response to the addiction. The main idea of each person’s share should be that they have been hurt by the substance abuse, but they believe that the person who struggles with alcohol or drug addiction can change.

Keep your narratives specific, short and straightforward. Although you may revise the script several times before you stage the intervention, don’t deviate from it when the time comes.

6. Speak From a Loving Place

The person with the addiction likely places a great deal of guilt and shame on themselves. Some phrases that you can use to show them that you are doing this because you care include:

  • I love you.
  • I will be here for you.
  • Addiction treatment is effective.
  • I believe that you can change.
  • You are valuable.
  • You are worthy of getting help.

7. Come Up With Consequences

No matter how intentional you are about the intervention, things may not go as planned. If the person with the addiction doesn’t seek help, there will be consequences. It’s up to you and your intervention team to decide what those consequences are.

They may include:

  • I won’t lie for you or cover up your addiction anymore.
  • You can’t live in my home if you are using or high.
  • You must contribute to the household financially.
  • I will no longer negotiate boundaries with you.
  • I will call the police if you become aggressive again.
  • I cannot remain in contact with you if you don’t seek addiction treatment.

8. Arrange for Addiction Treatment Before the Intervention

Having a clear plan includes pre-arranging the treatment. Contact the addiction treatment facility ahead of time to ensure that they can accommodate your loved one. Decide how you are going to transfer the person with the addiction to the location.

Uncertainty leads to doubt. Failing to arrange for substance abuse treatment before conducting an intervention can give your loved one an excuse to avoid it.

9. Follow Up

An intervention doesn’t always go according to plan. It’s tough to predict how the person with the addiction will react. They may become hostile or manipulative. They may lash out or leave the intervention location.

If your loved one agrees to treatment, follow up with your plan to enroll them in the facility. Make arrangements for continuing treatment methods, such as therapy, support groups and life skills classes after acute treatment is complete. Your loved one will also need support while returning to their normal life and going back to work. Ensure that they know where they can go for help.

The intervention may not result in an immediate pursuit of addiction treatment. If your loved one refuses to seek treatment, follow up with the consequences that you laid out.

At Burning Tree, we believe that no one should have to struggle with addiction alone. We offer a wide variety of programs to help people with substance abuse disorders and their loved ones access recovery, healing and peace.

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