How Do I Hold An Intervention?
The Intervention Process
The first thing you need to remember is that you are not in their shoes, and they are not in yours. It’s going to be frustrating on both ends, whether you are conducting the intervention or receiving it. There are dually aggravating components to each. The user does not want to listen, or you do not want to listen to the intervention team. It often comes out a lose-lose situation, but you can change all of that with proper planning.
We’re going to delve into the fundamentals of an intervention, how to conduct one, and what to keep in mind during the entire process. It isn’t an easy road, but if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol, someone needs to step in before it’s too late.
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How To Conduct An Intervention
There is no one size fits all when it comes to interventions. Each addiction is different, each vice is different, and each user prioritizes them differently. There are virtually endless combinations of causes and effects at any given time. For this reason, you need to be calm and willing to listen, no matter what.
The mental mindset that goes along with conducting an interview can be summed up in a few questions, as listed below. Ask these to yourself to determine if you are ready to head an intervention.
- Can I lay out the points effectively without enraging my loved one?
- Will I be able to form an inner circle of his or her loved ones to assist me?
- Will I be able to follow through with this, even if there is a negative outcome from the event?
Though it may appear as a simple solution, it’s alarming what you realize about the process when you ask yourself these questions out loud. The mental preparation that goes into this is taxing on your emotions and spirit.
Select A Location
You’re going to be staging an intervention; but where? You should select somewhere that your loved one feels comfortable, such as their own home or that of a family member of close friend, or even your own. You want to minimize the possibility of their negative reactions, and prevent them from fleeing if they feel cornered. A comfortable, memorable environment may help ground them in the situation.
How To Stage An Intervention
Your friend or loved one has become entangled in the horrible web of substance abuse, and you don’t want to see them like this. Staging an intervention is a way to help them when they reach the point of utter addiction. There are certain keys to planning a successful intervention and helping your loved one.
Plan It Properly
Seek out the people who are closest to them, and speak to them privately about your concerns. They are likely seeing the exact same signs, and are aware of the presence of addiction. You may encounter those in your loved one’s inner circle that you do not want to ask for help due to personal affliction. For the benefit of the person who is suffering with addiction, you must bridge every single gap and bring every member of their inner circle into the light to help you form this intervention.
These are people that your addicted love one holds dear and respects. Your loved one values their opinions, and that’s where it’s going to hit them the hardest when the intervention commences. Keep the group on the smaller side if possible, as to not overwhelm your loved one, but ensure the quality of the attendees. If someone doesn’t matter to them, whether in an altered state or even beforehand, then they don’t belong at the intervention. It will feel like they are being ganged up on, not helped.
When you plan out the intervention, your words need to be very carefully selected. You don’t want your loved one to feel cornered and retreat from the intervention. Physically dragging them back into the circle may be tempting, but will only damage the results in the end. You need to be impactful, but without scaring them away. The entire event will be wasted if they don’t listen, and they will become increasingly distrusting of all who appeared at the intervention.
You will want everyone to have prepared a speech, and possibly speak in turns. If the event is feeling forced and your loved one begins to reject what is happening, taking turns giving speeches may be doing more harm than good.
One key tactic that works more often than it fails, is delivering an ultimatum. Not just one, but a set of them. Each member of the loved one’s inner circle that is present should present an ultimatum to the user, pushing them towards seeking help in lieu of losing everyone and everything they care about.
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Substance Abuse Interventionist
An interventionist or addiction specialist deals with these issues as a career and a passion. Helping those suffering from addiction is what they care about most. They’re trained professionals and are often included within the title of social worker, drug abuse counselor, psychologist, and psychiatrist. All of these professionals have the information and skills necessary to assist your loved one to the road to recovery.
You can absolutely conduct an intervention without an interventionist, but when you know that the situation is bad enough and your loved one is facing potential hospital time or other serious injuries incurred from their addiction, then a professional can help. Sometimes, the intervention will occur at the interventionists’ office or work space, or they can sometimes leave their offices to come to your home depending on how your intervention is planned. They can help you stay on track while the intervention is being conducted, so that you hit all the points you’re trying to and not allow raw emotion to cloud your judgment.
These professionals are especially helpful if your loved one is suffering from the following:
You know that your loved one isn’t a violent person, but drugs have made them intolerant of hearing anything from anybody. Their mind may be focused on the next fix, or they may be in the early stages of withdrawal if they are unable to acquire their vice. Under these circumstances, they can have violent outbursts.
Prior to the intervention, if your loved one has any mental illness or disorder, there’s no help coming from the drugs or alcohol in their system. It can make them horribly irrational, and even lash out verbally, or violently, as stated above. Trained professionals will know how to deal with this in a safe and effective manner.
If your loved one has ever been known to have thoughts of suicide or has attempted suicide in the past, a professional can help in advising how the intervention should go and maintain a positive and supportive environment that may help in preventing the user from reverting back to those thought processes.
Empathy and “holding space” for someone who’s been visited by suicidal thoughts can be an important component of any dialogue; practicing active listening, where the individual is allowed to speak freely without interruption (and then has their sentiment rephrased back to them by the listener to show understanding) may be beneficial.
They Are Responding Positively – Now What Do I Do?
You may have been expecting the worst, and nobody can blame you. If you’ve done your research, then you know the horror stories about failed interventions and what they pertain to. Still, you’ve done it, and they’re standing there and listening to you. They’re even being responsive. What do you do now?
Listening and agreeing are two totally different things. You’re not to agree with their points, but push your own in a delicate manner. When they tell you that they have it under control, or that they know what they’re doing, let them know what you see. They’re talking to you; it’s more than you’ve achieved before. They will want to speak, and try to reason with themselves. The more they do this and listen to themselves, the more sense your points may make to them.
Don’t Allow Them to Coerce You
Some say that the mind of an addict is the smartest potential that the human mind can achieve. In severe cases, they will try anything and everything to achieve their vice, or fix. Under these circumstances, they may be going along with you just to gain your trust, and possibly convince you that they have everything fully under control. Even if it is under control, it is still not a healthy or safe practice to be addicted to anything. Don’t let them fool you if everything seems like it’s going far too well with little to no struggle.
The Intervention Went Horribly
You’re dealing with volatile results, and it’s not easy. If your loved one has backed out completely, or even worse, engaged in violent or irreparable behavior, you’ll need some time to regroup and plan out your next course of action, at which point other members of the inner circle may be discouraged to continue. You need to follow through on any ultimatums that were discussed during the short time that you held their attention.
Enforcing the severe consequences will allow your loved one to know you weren’t simply blowing smoke to get a reaction out of them. Even if they don’t immediately show it, knowing that they weren’t lied to and that the threats that were laid out on the table are being followed through with, may push them towards selecting an option: a form of treatment, or at least sitting down and listening to the full length of the intervention. It’s a second chance to get the point across, and now they know you’re not messing around.
If they are still unresponsive, or giving you the cold shoulder after the attempted intervention, you need to know that you haven’t failed them. You’re getting a reaction; they know how you feel, how their own inner circle feels, and everything is out in the open for discussion. They may fear the consequences, but it is paramount that they are followed through with to try and push a result, being rehabilitation or detox.
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An intervention is a key turning point to showing someone who is suffering from addiction the light, and that they are hurting the people around them, and most importantly, themselves. When you feel as though an intervention is necessary, the user may already be in such a cycle with their addiction that they will be unwilling to cooperate. You need to verbally and calmly let them know why they are hurting everyone, and make the information critical. It’s not uncommon for someone to dart out of the room when they feel ganged up on; get the crucial bits out in the open first and foremost.
Remember that the point of an intervention is not to gang up on, or let out your anger loose on, the addicted individual. You can discuss all of that in post-treatment family therapy sessions if you think it will at all be constructive to keeping them from reverting or relapsing. Whatever you may be feeling in these circumstances, remember who the intervention is about, and that you are trying to help them first and foremost. If you follow all of these steps above and look out for the helpful tricks along the way, you’re already on the way to properly planning a successful intervention. For more information on interventions or treatment in general, contact a treatment provider today.
Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has 6 years of professional writing experience. A passion for writing led her to a career in journalism, and she worked as a news reporter for 3 years, focusing on stories in the healthcare and wellness industry. Knowledge in healthcare led to an interest in drug and alcohol abuse, and she realized how many people are touched by addiction.
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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:
A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).
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