About Interventions

By The Fix staff 08/06/18

Make sure that love and acceptance are the main focus, even though you may feel hurt, betrayed or angry by your loved one’s behavior.

young man in intervention
A Better Today understands the intricacies of staging an intervention for a loved one suffering from addiction.

When your loved one is struggling with active addiction, you probably feel overwhelmed, powerless and, worst of all, uncertain of what’s coming next. As their addiction escalates, it can feel a lot like you’re on a runaway train with no hope in sight. Maybe you’ve researched treatment programs. Perhaps you’ve managed to bring up your concerns in soft, subtle ways. Or maybe you’ve confronted your loved one directly, only to be given lies and denial in return. You might even be second-guessing yourself, wondering if the problem is really as bad as it seems. Watching someone go through addiction can be as frustrating as it can be heartbreaking. Still, convincing your loved one to stop their devastating behavior and habits is tricky business. You run the risk of completely driving him or her away. A Better Today Recovery Services (ABT) not only understands the difficult position you’re in, but it also knows the best options you have available. As difficult as it may seem, an intervention might be the best possible solution for the situation that you and your loved one find yourselves in.

An intervention is a planned event where friends and family members come together to communicate their feelings of love and concern to someone who’s at risk of completely losing themselves to addiction. The very idea of hosting an intervention can be daunting and intimidating—but when done correctly, an intervention can be powerful and hugely meaningful for everyone involved. It can also become the first step toward long-term sobriety. An intervention helps guide your loved one toward a healthy, positive future at the same time it provides family members some measure of closure. It’s important to note that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for an intervention. Just like a treatment plan, an intervention needs to be tailored to the person. There are several different models, techniques and approaches for how to confront a loved one about their addiction. For some people, a simple one-on-one discussion might get the job done. However, in many cases, depending on the depth of your loved one’s addiction, a coordinated group intervention is the most effective way of getting through.

A Better Today highly recommends that interventions shouldn’t be held without strict planning and professional guidance. Interventions are delicate. Since the situation with your loved one is already emotionally charged, getting an intervention specialist involved is critical. Specialists are trained in addiction therapy and different intervention models. They work to customize each intervention to the individual, taking into consideration a number of different factors, such as the length of abuse, the type of substance they’re abusing, and the kind of support the struggling individual might need. When it comes to interventions, it’s important that you don’t feel guilty or that you somehow drove your loved one to abuse drugs or alcohol. Once you understand (or, better yet, actually believe) that, you’ll be able to move forward and be a strong support system for your loved one.

When you’ve made the decision to host an intervention, you may experience a rush of different emotions: anxiety, motivation, confusion. The very first step after making the decision is to research substance abuse treatment options. Finding the right treatment facility takes time. You need to find one that you trust, feel is safe, and one that’s located in a place that promotes long-lasting recovery. Don’t rush your research. It’s crucial that you find a treatment option that works for you and your loved one. If the intervention is successful, you’ll need your loved one to enter treatment right away, which is why researching all of your available options ahead of time pays off. ABT suggests that you should be packed and ready to go, in order to capitalize on the moment your loved one says “yes” to treatment. Also, by doing the right amount of research, you may discover that your insurance company will cover some, if not all, of your loved one’s treatment. Choosing the right place for your loved one to go also gives you time to work with an addiction specialist in order to determine the best course of action to guide them to successful sobriety.

Almost as important as choosing the right treatment facility is selecting the right group of family members and friends to be part of the intervention. You need to think about who can add the most value to the discussion and most effectively encourage the individual to get help. A Better Today suggests keeping your intervention small, with no more than eight people. While you can have as many people as you want, the intervention can be overwhelming for everyone, including your loved one. It can also last longer than it needs to. (ABT recommends that interventions should last no longer than three hours.) You should select people your loved one trusts, not to mention avoiding anyone they may have had a difficult past with. An intervention is meant to motivate and encourage the individual, not dredge up resentments or anger. It’s also not meant to create a confrontation.

Since you’re the intervention host, you’ll need to plan out what everyone on your “team” is going to say. You’re not writing a stage play where everyone needs to hit their marks and memorize exact lines of dialogue. But you should help your team members craft their speeches and messages for the intervention. That way, you have some semblance of control over what’s going to be said to your loved one, not to mention getting some consistency between everyone. In fact, ABT recommends that you structure your messages around “I feel” statements, such as “When you are high on drugs, I feel like you are…” or “When you do not come home for days, I feel worried for your safety…” Your intervention’s message should be hopeful but, most of all, clear. Have your team members use phrases like “I am here today to offer my support. Know that when you call me, I will answer to encourage you to complete drug and alcohol rehab. I will be there when you graduate the program to welcome you back in the family.” Make sure that love and acceptance are the main focus, even though you may feel hurt, betrayed or angry by your loved one’s behavior.

Obviously, it’s just as important to decide when to host your invention than it is what you’ll say during the event itself. ABT believes that one of the best times to host an intervention is right after a major drug-related event has happened. Try to avoid holding the intervention when the person is drunk or high, as those events rarely ever go well. You need your loved one to have their faculties about them. You’ll also need to consider whether you should tell your loved one about the intervention ahead of time. It really boils to two options: being upfront and honest about the intervention, or surprising someone with the event. The “surprise intervention” is the more common method, as it is very often the only way to get someone to listen.

On the day of the intervention, family members and friends should take turns reading their speeches to the loved one. Remember: the goal is to get your loved one to seek treatment. In order to maintain balance and control, you should speak first and last. By going first, you’ll be able to set the tone of the intervention. You can explain that the group hasn’t gathered together to shame the person for their addiction. It’s all out of love and compassion. Going last also means that you can summarize and simplify everything that was said during the intervention, not to mention making the offer to get treatment at the facility you’ve selected. ABT warns that if you host an intervention and don’t take action, you could simply be establishing a precedent for enabling them in the future.

A Better Today believes in you and your judgment. You know your loved one better than anyone, so an intervention with them can be successful if you follow the steps. It’s not easy, but it can be done. That said, not every intervention ends with someone willingly going to rehab. You have to steel yourself for the very real possibility that the intervention will simply drive that person away. When someone is caught up in addiction, they don’t see rehab as an option. Still, a failed intervention isn’t entirely worthless. If nothing else, it will have planted the seed of recovery. Over time, you may very well get to see that seed grow and blossom into full, long-term sobriety.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

The Fix staff consists of the editor-in-chief and publisher, a senior editor, an associate editor, an editorial coordinator, and several contributing editors and writers. Articles in Professional Voices, Ask an Expert, and similar sections are written by doctors, psychologists, clinicians, professors and other experts from universities, hospitals, government agencies and elsewhere. For contact and other info, please visit our About Us page.