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How to Stage An Intervention

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intervention addiction substance use disorder alcoholism confrontationHow Do Professional Interventions Work?

Few things are more painful than watching as someone that you care about destroys their life due to an addiction. Over the past few months, you might have noticed that your loved one’s behavior is getting worse. They may have lost their job, destroyed relationships, or even gotten in trouble with the law. Family members, friends, and colleagues are often the first people to notice when someone is struggling with an addiction. If you’ve recognized the signs of an addiction in someone that you know, then it is up to you to help them face the fact that they may need to seek treatment.

A professional intervention is a formal way of talking to someone about their addiction. People often turn to a professional interventionist when they’ve tried other methods to convince their loved one to seek help, such as talking one-on-one. You might also prefer to have a professional nearby if you worry about your loved one’s reaction or fear that you won’t have the right things to say. While you might have seen interventions get out of control on movies or television shows, it is important to note that these scenarios are merely done for dramatic effects.

A true intervention should always remain fairly calm, and the focus should remain on maintaining a level of positivity that helps the person struggling with addiction feel a sense of hope. The end goal of an intervention is always to help the person decide to seek treatment rather than to simply vent and make them feel more guilt. Staging a successful intervention does require some work, and you can make sure that yours goes off without a hitch by establishing a solid plan before you begin.


What Are the Basic Steps for Planning an Intervention

Figuring out whether or not someone needs an intervention is hard enough. Now, you might be facing the next hurdle in your path for helping them agree to go to treatment. An intervention can look quite different from one group to another. Some people prefer to open the intervention up to close friends and colleagues. Others try to limit the meeting to just family members. In most cases, you can expect to take these steps that are common to all types of personal interventions.


Seek Professional Advice

The first step towards getting your loved one help is to accept that you need help yourself. Reach out to a professional interventionist or mental health counselor. Talking to someone who understands addiction can help you begin to learn more about the things that drive your loved one’s behavior. A professional can explain to you how drugs and alcohol impact the brain and lead to dependency. They can also talk to you about how options such as a medication-assisted treatment program could be more beneficial for your loved one than trying to quit cold turkey if they use certain substances.


Put Together the Intervention Team

Once you have a good understanding of what your loved one needs, you can begin pulling together other people who are impacted by their behavior. Most interventions involve family members such as a spouse, parent or sibling. Depending on your loved one’s lifestyle, they may also have a best friend who is concerned or co-workers who play a large role in their life.

As you create your list of people to be involved, try to remember to limit it to only people who are closely linked to your loved one. Bringing in a neighbor that they rarely talk to or a brand new co-worker they barely know won’t be effective. It could even cause your loved one to feel embarrassed, which could stop them from wanting to get help.


Create a General Outline for the Intervention

After you’ve reached out to your support network, you can start putting together the basic information for the intervention. Talk to everyone to identify the best time and place to hold the meeting. Keep in mind that you’ll want to choose a private setting where your loved one will feel the most comfortable. This could be their home or a family member’s house as long as it is somewhere that they would normally go.


Plan What Each Person Will Share

Before the intervention, each member of the team will need to create an impact statement. Writing down their thoughts beforehand helps them to avoid saying something that they don’t mean, and it gives you all a chance to be sure that things don’t get repetitive. Ideally, each person can share a different way that your loved one’s behavior has impacted them.

Try to remind everyone to speak only with love. Although some of the things that they may say are hard to express, it is best to avoid being hurtful. Using positive language that reduces the stigma that your loved one may feel about having an addiction goes a long way towards convincing them to seek help.


Hold a Mock Intervention Meeting

Rehearsing what everyone is going to say helps to calm those nervous jitters that you may all be feeling on the big day. A mock intervention also gives you a chance to introduce people who might not know each other well and decide who will speak in a specific order. Additionally, practicing the intervention will help you to get things back on track if your loved one derails someone’s impact speech.


Be Prepared to Act Immediately

Each person at the intervention may need to set boundaries to stop the negative impact that your loved one’s substance use disorder is having on their life. For instance, a spouse might need to ask their loved one to find somewhere else to stay until they are ready to get sober. A parent might need to tell their adult child that they will no longer loan them money since it might go towards drugs. Then, make sure that these boundaries are enforced immediately if your loved one doesn’t agree to seek treatment.

If your loved one does decide to get help, then you’ll want to have information about possible treatment programs that can fit their needs. Letting them know that you’ve found a gender-specific treatment program or one that is designed for treating underlying conditions, for instance, can help them to make the decision about where they want to go.


Remember to Follow Up On a Refusal

Professional interventionists will often tell you that a refusal is not the end of your intervention. Instead, try to take the viewpoint that your loved one just needs time to think about what they heard. You’ve laid the groundwork by opening up the topic of addiction, and making an effort to help your loved one avoid feeling stigmatized can help them decide to seek help.

After giving it some time, check in with your loved one to see if they’ve given what everyone said some thought. Once again, be prepared to answer their questions about specific types of addiction treatment, and keep the information handy for getting them into a program right away.


What Else Can Someone Do to Host a Successful Intervention?

When you care about someone, you want to do everything possible to help them stop falling further into the spiral of addiction. Knowing how to keep the intervention focused on the ultimate goal of helping your loved one seek treatment gives you more confidence as you begin your meeting.


Make Sure Everyone Has the Right Mindset

Naturally, there may be some powerful emotions among the members of your intervention team. While people may have reasons to feel angry, you’ll want to remind them of the negative impact of lashing out. Encourage each person in the group to share a few things that they love about the person that you are hosting the intervention to help. Adding a few good memories to the impact statements can help your loved one remember how things can be again if they choose to get help with their addiction.


Plan to Limit Distractions

In most cases, it is better to avoid having young children present during the intervention. If possible, arrange for child care for the duration of the meeting. You may also want to make sure that the television and any other noisy electronics are not on. If your loved one has a pet, then having it around could provide them with support. However, you might need to remove barking dogs and other distractions from the room.


Reschedule the Intervention If the Person Is Intoxicated

Many people with addictions have fairly predictable behavior patterns. For example, you might know that your loved one tends to start drinking as soon as they get home from work. Try to plan the intervention to take place during a time when you know that your loved one should be sober. However, you’ll want to keep in mind that they could possibly show up intoxicated.

Someone who is under the influence of substances might not be capable of fully listening to everyone’s reasoning. They could even be more likely to lash out verbally or physically during emotionally challenging moments. If your loved one shows up intoxicated, then temporarily abandon your plans. You can always come together again when they are in a more receptive frame of mind.


Keep the Intervention Within a Reasonable Timeframe

Anyone who’s ever squirmed during a lengthy work training session already knows that most people have a specific amount of time during which they can stay focused. The ideal time range for an intervention is between 60 and 90 minutes. If the meeting goes longer than that, then your loved one might zone out or become overwhelmed by all of the information that everyone is sharing.

You can keep your intervention within this timeframe by making sure that everyone practices what they want to say. If your loved one extends the time by interrupting people, then consider shortening some of the impact statements so that everyone has a chance to talk.


How Do Professional Interventionists Help?

A professional interventionist knows how to provide a personal approach to helping family members and friends stage and host an intervention. Some people are simply too emotional in the situation, and they may need the interventionist to lead the entire meeting. Others may need an interventionist to stay nearby to help calm things down if they heat up.

An interventionist is also helpful if your loved one is prone to violence or has underlying mental health conditions that could impact the meeting. Having a professional on hand has the additional benefit of giving your loved one someone to speak to immediately if they are moved to go to rehab by your statements.

Planning an intervention isn’t something that you have to do alone. In fact, reaching out for professional support can help you create an organized intervention that hits your loved one right in the heart. As you get ready to make your impact statement, be sure to consult with a professional interventionist who can help you create a moving meeting that helps everyone begin healing from the negative effects of addiction.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we have years of experience helping people struggling with substance use disorder. Our professional team offers a range of treatment options to address various needs. We can even provide resources to assist you in planning an intervention. If you’re looking to help a loved one, or you need help yourself, reach out to us today.