When someone you love is struggling with addiction, having an honest conversation with them about the issue is difficult, to say the least. Even the most informal attempt to discuss the changes that have occurred due to drug use or the possibility of treatment are often met with anger or dismissal.
Ultimately, if there is to be positive change, it may be necessary to hold a more formal conversation with your loved one. Staging an intervention may be the only way to help your loved one to:
- Recognize how life is different now due to addiction
- See how the consequences of addiction have negatively impacted others
- Realize that everyone there is available for support
- Accept the fact that treatment is the only way to positively address the medical disorder that is addiction
- Agree to enroll in treatment immediately
If you are considering staging an intervention for someone you care about, here is what you need to know.
Hiring a professional interventionist, or family mediator, may be a positive first step in staging an effective intervention for your loved one. Benefits for you as planner of the intervention include:
- Access to the expertise of an experienced professional
- An air of formality to the event that may help your loved one stay and listen
- The ability to be a participant rather than having to be in charge
- In some cases, someone who can accompany your loved one to treatment, door to door
It may be that the rehabilitation program you choose can connect you with the services of an interventionist, or you may prefer to hire an interventionist in advance of choosing a rehabilitation program. The choice is yours.
The people you include – and choose not to include – in the intervention can have a significant impact on its efficacy. It may be clear to you who should take part based on their experience with your loved one, but even someone who is close to the situation may not necessarily be a good fit for the intervention. Every situation is different, but in general, it is recommended that you keep the number of participants to fewer than five and choose participants who:
- Respect your loved one and genuinely want to see that person enter treatment
- Are calm and balanced in crisis situations
- Are willing to prepare something to say to your loved one with the purpose of helping them to recognize the need for treatment
- Are respected by your loved one who is living in addiction
Before you stage an intervention, it is recommended that you gather together the participants without your loved one and hold a meeting to plan the event. This meeting should include the interventionist you hired and focus on:
- Providing information about the nature of an intervention and what to expect
- Answering any questions about the intervention
- Helping participants to decide what to say to your loved one
- Determining who will fill what roles during the intervention (e.g., who will speak first, who will get the person to the intervention, etc.)
It is important to emphasize at the planning meeting that an intervention is a nonjudgmental way of presenting the option of treatment to the individual struggling with addiction, and that should the person choose to accept help, it is imperative that they leave immediately to begin treatment.
Where and When
It is a good idea to choose a place that is comfortable and welcoming to the person living in addiction as the location for the intervention. A private location, like someone’s home, is ideal as long as it is somewhere that the person would naturally go to and feel comfortable. It is almost never a good idea to choose a public place or anywhere outdoors.
Important note: If the person is drunk or high when the intervention begins, participants will need to wait until the individual is sober before beginning, so the location should be at a time and place that is conducive to waiting hours if necessary.
Before you stage an intervention, it is essential that you enroll your loved one in a treatment program and ensure that there is a bed available and that the facility is expecting your loved one to arrive on the day of the intervention. Why? Too often, it can be the inclination of the person in addiction to agree to get help and then procrastinate, putting it off by days that turn into weeks, until the end result is that nothing changes. To avoid this, an intervention places an urgency on treatment, making it clear to the person at the center of the event that immediate treatment is necessary or family and friends will implement changes that remove their support of the ongoing addiction.
Focused on the Goal of Treatment
Throughout the intervention, it is important to stay focused on the goal of identifying addiction as a disorder, then detailing how it is clear that the person is living with an addiction, and then making the connection that treatment is therefore the logical next step as it would be for any chronic medical disorder. No matter what the person says, how emotional people may feel, or what has happened in the past, it is imperative that participants remain calm, nonjudgmental, and focused on the singular goal of helping the person living with addiction to take the first step into life-changing treatment.