Watching a loved one struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction can be heartbreaking.
Not only do we watch them ruin their own lives, but they also negatively affect the lives of those who love them. This is why addiction is sometimes called a family disease. An intervention can help the addicted person come to terms with their addiction and let them know that people care for them and love them.
Successful interventions include:
- Discretion of people attending – The people who should be at the intervention are family and friends who have been negatively affected by the addictive behavior. Children may be present at the intervention based on their maturity level. Anyone who enables the addicted person or participates in addictive behavior should not be present.
- Rehearsal – A meeting should be held beforehand to rehearse common goals of the intervention. One person should be delegated as the leader; this person will lead the discussion. The group should agree on the goal of the intervention.
- Management of emotions – An intervention can get very emotional. Writing things down that you want to mention and discuss will help keep the meeting focused if emotions begin to run high.
- Smart timing – Choose a time when the person will not be drunk, high, or hung over. Try to be sure that the person does not have another commitment, such as work or picking up children. Plan to have an open space of time that is as stress-free as possible.
- Neutral location – Choose a location for the intervention that is familiar, yet private and non-threatening. It may not be a good idea to hold an intervention at the person’s house, as they will be in their own comfort zone and may be less apt to listen.
- Treatment plan – A treatment plan should be put in place before the intervention. If your loved one agrees that they want help, they should have somewhere to go immediately. This can be a residential facility that currently has room for your loved one; it could be a Twelve-Step meeting list; it could be an IOP plan that was set up for your loved one before the intervention. Everyone’s circumstances and needs vary. You want to guide them in the right direction should they agree to get help.
- Consequences – Consequences should be agreed upon at the rehearsal. If your loved one does not want to get help, what consequences will you put into place? For example, one consequence may be that you stop paying for their rent. You might set boundaries so that they no longer drink or use in your home.
Failed interventions include:
- Blaming – Blaming the person by using “you” statements instead of “I” statements will only heat up the situation and most likely put him/her on the defense.
- Disagreements – If the group of people present for the intervention do not stand united, the meeting may disintegrate into arguments as to what is best or not best for the individual. This is why it is important to meet beforehand and do a rehearsal.
- Bad timing – Bad timing can make an intervention useless. If the intervention time and place are all set and your loved one shows up incoherent, it may be best to reschedule.
- Uncontrolled emotions – Living with a person who is addicted can cause a lot of bad feelings. This is not the time to yell, scream, or cry. Controlling emotions as much as possible makes for a better intervention.
By the end of the intervention, even if your loved one has not agreed that they have a problem or that they need help, provide them with some literature to read at their leisure. An intervention should be thought-provoking and help the person look more seriously at their behavior. It is not a complaint session.
Although some ways of running an intervention meeting may be better than other ways, keep in mind that your time and effort will show your loved one how much you care. Even if you do not see an immediate change, you have planted the seed.