Have you been wondering how you can help someone you care about move out of denial and start facing up to their addiction problem? An intervention can be a very beneficial way to help someone realise their issues and make a decision to seek addiction help.
For those struggling with an addiction, finding help when it’s needed most isn’t always an easy feat to achieve. When this is the case, an intervention may be the right approach.
Those suffering from addiction are able to realise that family members and work colleagues are worried about their well-being, which can force them to re-examine their habits and choose a better path forward. This is what an intervention hopes to achieve, by alerting them to the problem and encouraging them to take immediate action.
What Is An Intervention?
Intervention is not a single event, but a structured and controlled process carried out by concerned family members, friends or co-workers and an intervention professional. Intervention begins by assessing the current situation of the addict and giving professional guidance and information to those will be involved.
It culminates in the “intervention meeting” which is where those who are involved meet with the addicted person to discuss their worries and thoughts. The aim of this meeting is to convince the addict to accept that they have a problem which they need assistance with and that they need to seek an appropriate form of treatment in order to address.
What An Intervention Is Not
An intervention is not, and should never be used as:
- A chance for friends and family members to voice their anger and frustration with the addicted person
- A method of emotionally blackmailing the addicted person into a rehab clinic or treatment centre
- A one-off shouting match or emotional outburst with no prior thought, plan of action or professional assistance
Reasons Behind An Intervention
Many reasons exist for why holding an intervention might be a good strategy, but the central idea is that while the subject is under the influence of addiction, they are unable or unwilling to recognise the negative consequences that it is inviting into their life.
Conducting an intervention brings these issues to the forefront and forces the person to acknowledge the impact that they’ve had upon their life and the people around them. This can be an extremely powerful technique, especially in situations where relationships have been broken or damaged beyond repair.
What Does An Intervention Look Like?
An intervention is comprised of family members, friends, and close associates who surround the patient in kindness and understanding while expressing their concern about the unwanted effects of the addiction and willingness for things to change. This is often best accomplished with members of the intervention team writing a personalised letter to the individual.
The letter should describe their innermost feelings and desire for them to accept the rehabilitation plan that will provide the best opportunity for lasting sobriety. Emphasising support for the person and outlining what the members hope to achieve with their intervention are usually key components of a sound and straightforward intervention strategy.
When Should I Intervene?
Usually, an intervention is viewed as a last resort to prevent serious consequences that can arise, or after having exhausted all prior options to have the person focus on recovery in a serious way. If a dependence has been formed and it’s no longer realistic for the person to behave in a rational or responsible manner, staging an intervention can help them realise just how far their addiction has progressed.
Each person and situation are unique, and this requires the help of an intervention expert to assess the circumstances and provide assistance in choosing the right strategy.
Examples of Situations Where an Intervention is Needed
When chronic addiction has taken hold in the life of a patient, it can become quite apparent that unless a drastic change occurs quickly. Their health and future lie in doubt. Many times, the addiction has already caused devastating consequences in ruining their financial life. It may bring the patient closer to death or with run-ins with the law.
If the addictive behaviour becomes out of control and starts to damage key areas of a person’s life, consulting with an experienced professional to develop a blueprint strategy for an intervention may be a good approach to get them the much-needed help that leads to profound and lasting change.
Deciding whether or not an intervention is the proper choice of action for different situations or substances may involve:
When it comes to alcoholism, if it becomes obvious that alcohol is a daily and persistent factor in the person's life, or that they can't "have fun" or "feel good" without it, then it may be time for an intervention.
Prescription drug abuse can cause a great deal of financial ruin in the lives of those facing it, and when these issues prevent them from living a normal or healthy life, an intervention could be the right approach.
Drug abuse can creep into every area of a person's life, destroying relationships and wreaking havoc in their professional and educational world. When this happens, an intervention may be necessary.
Compulsive eating can create stark inconsistencies in a person's life both socially and emotionally, also leading to health problems down the road if left untreated. If an imbalance becomes recognisable and keeps them from health or happiness, an intervention might be required to rectify the problem.
When compulsive gambling becomes more important than caring for the person's family or financial stability, it might be time for an intervention.
Different Types of Intervention
Having seen interventions on television, many people already have a preconceived notion of what is involved; however, several different techniques may be employed, each with their own strategy for producing a successful outcome.
One such model, the invitation model, removes the element of surprise or confrontation by having a close friend or family member request that they join them at a set time and place to discuss their addiction. Though the person may decline, they are less likely to be defensive about entering the scenario when having a prior knowledge of the event.
The systemic model resists placing shame on the individual, instead encouraging them to reach beyond their addiction rather than casting blame on them. Perhaps the most well-known approach, the Johnson model, uses the element of surprise to force the patient to deal with their problems and makes it clear and unambiguous that real change needs to take place.
Addiction Intervention: Breakdown of Stages
Planning an intervention correctly involves many stages to deliver the most effective and promising result. This includes contacting a specialist who is considerate of your needs, and will offer valuable input and advice throughout the process. Next, you’ll have to form your group, deciding how many people will be on-board and getting them involved with the intervention.
Once this is accomplished, you’ll want to fill in the details about what to say, who should say it, and how it should be said (including writing these sentiments down in letter form, as mentioned earlier). Finally, it’s time to choose a date, time, and location for the intervention to occur, and be fully prepared for any reactions or events that may take place as a result.
Can I Host a Workplace Intervention?
It isn’t unusual for someone struggling with an addiction to experience problems in the work environment. This can take many forms, but it often leads to them having trouble maintaining focus, or producing results that aren’t sufficient for their occupation.
If an addiction is preventing someone from completing their job duties, being late, or missing work, hosting an intervention might be a wise course of action. Reserving a conference room for a full day could be a smart move, and it’s also very important to only involve those closest to the subject – no acquaintances allowed.
Are Intervention Letters Useful?
When writing an intervention letter, it’s important to strike the right tone. You don’t want to cast blame upon the person, however you also want to communicate the urgency you feel regarding the situation, as well as the compassion and support you have for the individual. Doing so in a way that encourages them to take action is the key component to writing a successful intervention letter.
Tips To Staging an Addiction Intervention
Below we have listed some of the best guidelines to follow when it comes to staging an intervention:
- When the subject of an intervention has strong social support and access to a quality treatment programme, the process is more likely to succeed
- You can also enhance your odds by investing in a specialist who is prepared to deal with the various intricacies involved in the process
- Involving the right people is key. Always choose your team wisely to include the people who are most likely to have an impact on persuading the person to seek-out help
- An intervention should be motivational, so only include those who are willing to support and encourage the individual
- Choosing a time when the person is most likely to be sober, clear-headed, and ready to talk is ideal, so staging it first thing in the morning is often a good choice
- While it may seem like an attractive option to host your intervention within the family home, this can pose some potential problems such as too intense or familiar. While you want the location to be comfortable, a home may be too comfortable. This may provide several options for retreating into the bedroom or escaping into the bathroom
- Ideally, you would like to choose a setting that is both comfortable and formal, and also offers both privacy and structure. A meeting room or private dining area at a nice restaurant or hotel may be some good options
- Similarly, a public open setting may be too overwhelming or distracting
- Also, create a structure for the event by choosing the order wisely, holding rehearsals, and not veering away from the script too much
The Importance of Picking Your Team
Including those who are of primary importance and prominent value within the person’s life is always smart. This could mean relatives, close friends, or members of the person’s closely-knit faith community. It’s wise not to include those who possess drug and alcohol problems themselves. Anyone who elicits a strong negative reaction within the subject, or who is unable to limit what they say during important moments is also a bad idea.
If you have hesitations regarding a particular person, clearly communicate your intentions beforehand and ask them to write down their thoughts and stick to them the entire time. You can always have someone else read the letter for them if necessary.
Why You Should Hire an Interventionist
While many people who abuse drugs and alcohol aren’t violent in nature, this type of use disorder can lead to a lack of impulse control, thanks to changes within the brain’s chemistry.
When this happens, it helps to have the advice of a trained and qualified specialist on-hand, who can help you to approach the situation in the best possible way. Also, nothing compares to the experience of a professional who has been there before and knows how to get the job done right.
Family Intervention Specialist
Unlike an individual’s intervention, a family intervention treats the entire family of the subject as the patient. A family intervention specialist is typically used when an entire family has been closely involved throughout the addiction process, has dealt with traumatic experiences, or has been subject to extremely stressful situations.
Learning how to change old habits and foster better communication skills are key components to a successful family intervention. These sessions span a few days rather than a few hours, and work toward implementing lasting change through openness and support.
Drug Intervention Specialist
Hiring a drug intervention specialist can deliver close consultation throughout the entire intervention process, from helping to outline the intervention from the early planning stages, to dealing with each member of the team on an individual basis.
They’ll help you to develop an appropriate tone for the individual in need, and give you the tools and techniques to do so correctly. The sooner the group begins working with a specialist, the more prepared they’ll be when the time arrives to conduct the intervention.
FAQs on Addiction Intervention
Wondering more about interventions but don’t know where to start asking questions? We’ve done it for you. Below you will find a list of the most frequently asked questions:
Yes, most interventions do work - if done correctly, and that's why it's so imperative to take steps beforehand and call on the right professionals who can offer valuable advice each step of the way.
If a reasonable, appropriate, and level-headed strategy is implemented in a sincere way, there stands a good chance that the individual will recognise their problem and be willing to take steps to repair the damage they've already committed.
An intervention should not be conducted with lack of foresight or serious cause. If tried or done incorrectly, it could lead to deeper rifts in relationships or make the person less likely to respond to attempts at sobriety in the future.
Realise that interventions are not without some degree of unforeseen risk, and take this into account before committing yourself to the process, as well as every stage throughout.
While interventions are not simply friendly chats to be had as and when you please, they should not be one-offs. Especially if the first one was not a success.
Trying a different approach or using a different model is always best. If you did not hire an interventionist, do so the second time. Maybe the time or place was wrong.
Whatever you change from your first attempt, make sure to really consider what it was the original intervention was lacking. Which elements will more likely get through to the person suffering?
If an intervention doesn't go according to plan, it may still be possible to make the best of the situation. Try to identify any clear mistakes in order to learn from them and build a better strategy for the future. Also, assess whether or not proper planning was done, or what techniques might have failed.
Understand what tone should have been taken, and whether or not the level of communication and existing rapport matched the structure and processes involved in the approach. Don't give up hope, and recognise that opportunities may still present themselves in the future.
We can provide information and guidance on how to stage a successful intervention process for any addict, as well as recommendations and advice on choosing an intervention professional to ensure that your intervention achieves its goals, whether it is just acknowledging a problem or beginning the path to addiction treatment.
Things You Can Say During an Addiction Intervention
Each member of the group should explain in detail how the subject’s addiction affects them personally, as well as describe their grievances and worries in a calm and collected way.
Strive to remain calm no matter what, and be understanding and reasonable throughout the entire process. Let them know that it’s not their fault, but action should be taken to correct the situation.
Language To Avoid During An Addiction Intervention
It’s important to realise that interventions don’t go well spontaneously, and it’s best to conduct them with much strategizing and planning ahead of time. Avoid provocative or negative language whenever possible, and don’t castigate or villainise the individual, whether indirectly or outright.
Turning the situation into an “us versus them” scenario benefits nobody, and places the subject in a defensive posture which makes it harder for them to accept their problem or the help that follows.
Finding a Treatment Programme Before an Intervention
Finding a professional to evaluate the situation and assist in determining the proper treatment programme is a good first step in the process. Making arrangements as far ahead of time as possible is always smart.
This should include contacting the rehabilitation centre to let them know you’ll be conducting the intervention and finding out whether costs will be covered by insurance. Understand the steps involved with admitting the patient and get in touch with any support groups if necessary.