If your loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, sometimes an intervention is a necessary and effective way to get them into treatment. If you want to perform an intervention, follow these steps.
In the pre-planning stage, loved ones of the addict should meet to discuss the need for the intervention. If you are organizing the meeting, make sure everyone is prepared to discuss the problem and knows not to inform the addict about the meeting. Before the meeting, consider doing some research and bringing some literature on the disease of addiction, so that participants can educate themselves on the issue.
Everyone should share their experiences with the addict so the extent of their problem is clear. Participants should also share their feelings and ideas, as well as any questions or concerns they have about the intervention. As the organizer, you should take notes. Come up with a preliminary plan on how and when the intervention will take place, and schedule a second meeting in the near future. Also ask each participant to write down what they might like to say to their loved one at the intervention and to bring their letters to the next meeting. They should include concrete examples of how their loved one’s addiction has affected them.
Contact a professional interventionist or other addictions specialist to discuss the intervention. While not necessary, it is beneficial to hire a professional who has experience with substance abuse interventions. He or she can help you with the important details and help facilitate the actual intervention, acting as a mediator for an emotionally charged situation.
You will also need to research viable treatment options. If you need assistance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) has a 24/7 treatment referral line that can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). Contact the treatment center(s) you are considering to discuss admission for your loved one. It is important to have a treatment plan set in place ahead of time so that your loved one can enter treatment immediately following the intervention.
Everyone involved in the intervention, including any professional help, should meet again to discuss the intervention in detail. Set the date, time, and location of the intervention, as well as deciding on how the addict will be brought to the intervention site without being told about what will be happening.
Discuss the consequences that the addict will face if they do not choose to go directly to treatment. Consequences such as being cut off financially, being kicked out of the house, severing contact with family members, etc. should be severe and must be acted upon if necessary.
Practice the intervention. Have everyone share their letters, and make sure everyone uses a consistent tone. When speaking to the addict, agree to use “I” statements. For example, “I am hurt by your actions,” as opposed to, “You are hurting me,” which can cause your loved one to become more defensive. The tone of the intervention should be stern. Everyone must know to stay as calm as possible and not react to the addict’s emotional outbursts if they occur.
At the intervention, each loved one will take turns sharing their letters with the addict. Strongly reinforce the message that you love the addict, and your concern for their well-being is why you are compelling them to seek treatment. Be supportive, but do not waver in your resolve to get the addict into immediate treatment; make the consequences if they don’t go clear to them. Let your loved one know that you understand their addiction is a chemical problem and not a defect in their character. Remind them how much you love them and how much you love the person they are when they are not using. Try to get a commitment to treatment, and say your goodbyes before taking them to the treatment center.
Follow-Up to an Intervention
If your loved one does not go into treatment, let them know that the offer is always on the table if they change their mind in the future. Then, follow through with the consequences you set indefinitely until the addict does go into treatment. If your loved one does go to treatment, be involved in the process in a supportive way. Consider getting treatment or counseling for yourself and learning how to cope with the way their addiction has affected you, as well as how to best support your loved one in recovery and what to do if a relapse occurs.