Things to Consider Before Staging an Intervention

Suffering from addiction is an isolating experience — oftentimes so isolating that it becomes unreasonable in the person’s head to ask for help. It is in these instances that it is important for friends and family members to recognize when their loved one needs assistance. It is time to stage an intervention. 

Interventions can act as the final push for a struggling individual to realize they actually have a problem and need to look for professional help. In addition, interventions also let the individual know that they have loved ones looking out for them and providing a much-needed support system.

That being said, bringing up a substance use disorder to an individual who may be in denial can potentially be harmful if not carried out in a way that is sensitive to their experience. The way in which an intervention is staged is key to convincing the person they are worth saving.


What to Consider In Advance of an Intervention

Whether it be staging an intervention due to alcoholism, drug abuse or mental illness, there are always some important things to consider. Things like who will actually hold the intervention and what to say to a loved one are extremely sensitive, and including the wrong people or information can be potentially harmful.


Here are a few things to remember when an intervention becomes inevitable:


Come up with a plan.

Because interventions can be potentially triggering, it is important that the intervention team has a solid plan going forward. An intervention plan should include allocating tasks to those who have decided to hold one. These tasks can include finding the appropriate people to be a part of the team, consulting healthcare professionals and doing research. Interventions should not be a last-minute decision, they should be carefully thought out and planned. 


Form a team.

The actual people who participate in an intervention are the most important aspect of the meeting. Finding people that the individual struggling from addiction cares about may be the key in convincing them to seek treatment. If they see that the most important people in their life care deeply for them and that their addiction is affecting them, it may be what seals the deal.

Usually, teams include family members and close friends who have experienced their loved one’s addiction first hand. Additional members may include teachers, coaches and co-workers. Everyone should come to the meeting with something to say — everyone should have a purpose in the intervention to ensure their loved one knows they care and that they have a support system. It is important to not include anyone the individual may not have the best relationship with, as this may trigger them and send the wrong message.


Do your research.

Interventions are only successful if the people holding it know what they are talking about. Research as a part of an intervention action plan includes gathering information about the loved one’s disorder and possibilities of recovery along with collecting instances in which you decided that you believed the individual needed help. Providing your loved one with specific examples of when you feared for their safety or they were putting themselves in danger may help break down any denial the individual has about their illness. And, it always helps to be educated on relevant statistics and resources pertaining to their disorder in order to back up their opinions with facts and statistics that may further convince them to seek help.

Consider also mentioning specific plans to help them. Look into plans that are specifically geared towards their disorder as well as plans that would work for their schedule and the severity of their addiction. Having a clear help plan will take the stress from having to find a treatment center away and may encourage the individual to participate even more in recovery programs. 

Additionally, void using buzz words such as alcoholic, addict, druggie or anything inflammatory. Any hostility that the individual could perceive in the intervention may backfire. 


Interventions don’t always work.

Manage your expectations. No matter who you have on your team, how much research you have done or how heartfelt the intervention was, the individual struggling from addiction may still not want to receive help. This is not your fault but rather the addiction working its way through them. However, interventions are pointless unless something comes out of it. 

Set boundaries that will affect the individual should they refuse help. Everyone on the team should be able to commit to behavior that no longer enables the individual to abuse drugs or alcohol. Make the individual understand that should they refuse help, their relationship with everyone in the group will be affected until they do. Approach these consequences carefully, as you do not want to create an environment where their disorder may get worse. Be firm in your intention and let them know that you will not let them continue with their destructive and dangerous behavior without consequences.

In general, use empathy. While you may not have experienced a substance abuse disorder or mental illness, attempt to understand where they are coming from. These disorders are uncontrollable most of the time and denial is common — just know that they will come to their senses in time and anything you do to help will be beneficial in the long run.

Do you believe that you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder? Talk to our experienced addiction professionals by calling: (844) 978-1524

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