How to Stage an Intervention

By Myra Davis

Watching a loved one battle with drug use or alcoholism can be a difficult and grueling feat. Having a conversation can initiate the road to recovery but usually requires reinforcements from professionals who can organize an intervention. Knowing how to stage an intervention and engaging a loved one about their addiction is an important step on the road to recovery. An intervention panel should be composed of people who care about the person struggling with addiction: family, friends, colleagues, or clergy members. A properly prepared and organized intervention has the potential to transform the dependent person and put them on the road to recovery. It can be a tedious task to organize and execute an effective intervention, but using the steps below will increase the odds of the person overcoming their addiction.

Planning

It is important to describe the problem first; a checklist may be helpful in organizing the issues and the desired outcome. It may be beneficial to confer with an interventionist, as an intervention has the ability to bring out rage or hostility from the dependent due to feelings of betrayal. It is especially helpful to contact a professional if your loved one has a history of violence, emotional distress, is highly medicated, or has suicidal tendencies. More than 90% of people make a commitment to getting help when an intervention is conducted by an interventionist, as they are trained in managing intense and sometimes hostile situations. The counselor will be there for support, comfort, and direction if the conversation goes off-task. The group members need to research the specific condition the loved one is suffering from and possible treatment options. They may even choose a specific treatment program to enroll the dependent in before the intervention begins. It is crucial to set a date and location for the intervention, and then each participating member should write out what they are going to say in a structured, concise manner.

The overall goal of any intervention is to bring awareness to the life-threatening issues at hand. This is usually not the first time the dependent has been confronted about their addiction issues, but with an intervention, there will be serious repercussions for not following through. Be prepared with consequences if your loved one resists treatment, such as taking away their children or pets, filing for divorce, asking them to move out of the house, or cutting relations, both financial and personal, altogether. These “tough love” consequences are recommended, as the dependent is more likely to get treatment and potentially beat their addiction.

While preparing and executing an intervention, be prepared for an intense reaction from your loved one; they will feel attacked and vulnerable, and this may result in rage or anger. Having an organized, set schedule of what will happen during the intervention will help to minimize off-topic conversations and comments. Remember to stay calm and reinforce that you are on the addict’s side and want them to succeed in life and conquer their addiction.

Implementation

When the addict arrives at the intervention site, each person on the team should explain their issues or concerns about the destructive path the person is taking in life. The goal is to motivate the individual to take responsibility for their actions and get proper medical treatment for their addiction. The team members should give specific incidents that have raised alarm with the family and/or community. At that point, the treatment option should be presented and the dependent should be asked to accept. If there is resistance, the team members should share with the dependent the consequences of not accepting the treatment program and how it will affect their individual relationships. The team may not have the power to control the person’s drug problem, but they do have control over their responses to drug use. Once the addict accepts that they need help and agrees to enter a treatment program, the intervention begins to work. They are accepting the reality that they have a problem and need help and do in fact want to get better for themselves and their loved ones. With a structured and organized intervention, the treatment facility will already be expecting the person’s arrival to allow for a smooth transition into the treatment stage.

Follow Up

A successful intervention is only the beginning of the long road to recovery for the addict and their family. It is important to stay involved in the person’s life while they are in treatment and once they are released to help avoid a relapse. This may include attending counseling sessions, changing your everyday schedule to help curtail detrimental behavior, and knowing how to react if a relapse happens. It is important to evaluate the success of your intervention and learn from mistakes previously made. Your loved one will continue to battle dependency issues throughout their life, so it is important to keep an open dialogue with them so they feel comfortable expressing issues or concerns.

If relapse, does occur it is important to contact your interventionist and prepare for another intervention. But it is important to keep in mind that you only have control over your life and decisions, not your loved one’s. They have to truly want change in order for it to happen.

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