How to Have a Successful Intervention

How to Have a Successful Intervention

An intervention is a process, typically planned by family and friends, that aims to help a drug or alcohol addict realize the extent and consequences of their actions. Often aided by a drug intervention specialist or doctor, an intervention is an opportunity for the addict to accept help and take the first steps toward recovery.

Staging an intervention for someone you love is not easy. Before considering an intervention, many people have already tried talking to their loved one about their addiction, to now avail. Unfortunately, this type of situation occurs more often than not. As a result, many people turn to formal intervention methods in order to help their loved one get the help they need.

During a formal intervention, family and friends will provide concrete examples to show how their loved one has hurt them as a result of their addiction and discuss a proposed treatment plan.

In many cases, family and friends will give the addict an ultimatum: either go to treatment or face serious consequences. If the intervention proves successful and the individual chooses to go to treatment, family and friends are encouraged to support them throughout the process. On the other hand, if the individual chooses to forego treatment, family and friends are encouraged to stick by their original statement and ultimatum.

Oftentimes, people turn to formal intervention as a last resort. Therefore, it is important to approach the situation knowledgeable, prepared, and with a positive attitude. Use these tips in order to hold a successful intervention with a loved one.


Preparation is Key

One key tip to having a successful intervention is to do your research.  Look into your loved one’s type of addiction and specific treatment programs geared toward his/her condition.  Consult with a doctor, addiction specialist, or intervention professional and make a plan for how to have an intervention and what type of intervention you want to have.  The three main types of intervention are:

  • Invitational
  • Formal
  • Informal

An invitational approach to intervention involves the addicted person throughout the entire process. The addict is aware of the intervention as soon as the intervention specialist is hired. This method is preferred by family and friends who do not want to go behind the addict’s back, which can sometimes lead to hostility and embarrassment. By including the addict in the process from the very beginning, they have the opportunity to learn about their addiction and how it is affecting their loved ones.

One key benefit of the invitational approach to intervention is that it focuses on the entire family, not just the addict. Through this approach, the family will have the chance to learn more about the addiction, identify enabling behaviors, and learn how to support their loved one through the recovery process.

A formal intervention, similar to the invitational approach, involves having a structured conversation with the addicted person. During a formal intervention, family and friends will express how the addict’s behaviors have affected their lives.

An informal intervention, on the other hand, can come in a variety of different forms. Informal interventions range from getting arrested for drunk driving, experiencing financial or relationship troubles, or being sent to the hospital for an overdose. Situations such as these typically act as effective “wake up calls” for the addict and may be all it takes to convince them to seek help.

Make sure you know which type of intervention you are staging for your loved one, so that you can prepare accordingly.

Part of the preparation step is writing down some instances where you feel the addiction has affected you in some negative way.  It is better to provide specific examples of when you were hurt by this person so that he/she understands how their addiction has affected everyone around them. Make sure to speak from the heart.


Set the Stage

Make sure that the intervention takes place somewhere that the addicted person will feel comfortable. This secure environment will make the gathering feel less formal and more like a meaningful talk with a loved one.

Practice is also key. Some professionals say the rehearsal day (the day before) is the most important part of a successful intervention.  If family and friends practice what they are going to say beforehand, the gathering is more likely to go as planned. Try preparing for a variety of different situations that may occur when practicing.

Hiring a professional interventionist can help facilitate the conversion and ensure that the intervention runs smoothly. He/she has most likely seen the worst of it as far as interventions go, and therefore, are a great resource.


Keep a Positive Attitude 

Be stern, but have a positive attitude. Your loved one is unhappy, but your attitude can help change theirs. Help he/she see that there is a way out, and that they will get through this.  Make sure to say that you and the rest of your family members are there to help, every step of the way.

During the intervention, it is important that you help the addicted person realize that treatment is the only option if they want to get better. Sometimes the addict will try to talk his/her way out of it. However, if you have a trained interventionist present, they will help get the conversation back on track and provide any support family or friends may need during this challenging time.


Surround Your Loved One with Support

This goes hand-in-hand with keeping a positive attitude, but support will go a long way. Make a commitment to your loved one to help them through this rough time and beyond. Your loved one will see that he/she is not in this alone.

Show them how much you care by stating what action you will take if they do not cooperate with treatment. It may seem harsh at first, but helping your loved one realize the severity of the situation is necessary. And remember that because are a critical component in the recovery process, you may need to change some of your behaviors to help your loved one stay on track.  This includes avoiding alcohol and other substances as well as making yourself available as a support system before and after treatment.

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