While interventions have become the butt of jokes on many television shows, they are a serious and important tool in helping your loved one take the first step in fighting addiction. You should always carefully consider whether an intervention is necessary and how to plan an intervention for it to be as effective as possible. Remember, an intervention is not a confrontation: It’s a conversation that comes from a place of love and support. Before you hold an intervention for your friend or family member, take these steps.
Determine If It’s Time for an Intervention
An intervention is a focused attempt to help your loved one see the consequences of their actions. It may be time for an intervention when those consequences begin affecting you or other people around your loved one.
It may be the right time to hold an intervention if your loved one is:
- Using drugs or alcohol more heavily than before
- Missing work or other obligations due to substance use
- Ignoring their personal hygiene
- Experiencing changes in behavior, such as angry outbursts
- Withdrawing from their friends and family
When it is time for an intervention, it’s likely you won’t be the only person who has noticed that your loved one’s behavior has changed. Before planning an intervention, talk to other people in their lives to see if they have noticed any changes or have any concerns.
Hire an Interventionist
Once you’ve decided to hold an intervention, you can hire someone to help you plan it. An interventionist is a certified professional who can help support you throughout intervention planning. They can help you choose the right people for your intervention group, help you understand what to expect in an intervention, and guide you toward the right treatment options for your loved one. An interventionist is also trained to deal with the intense emotions that can erupt during an intervention, including anger, sadness, or resentment. As a third party, they can help you keep the dynamic of the intervention loving and supportive.
When hiring an interventionist, you should ask about their experience and education and whether the individual is a certified intervention professional (CIP). You should also ask about what help you will receive as well as whether the interventionist will attend the intervention. Make sure you will get the services and support you want and need. You can also ask the interventionist about their success rate and fees.
Not everyone has the means to hire an interventionist; however, an interventionist is highly recommended, particularly if your loved one:
- Has a history of violence
- Has a history of suicidal talk or attempts
- Experiences other mental illnesses
These situations pose extra challenges that an interventionist can help you safely navigate.
Choose Your Intervention Group
Your intervention group should consist of about four to six people that care about your loved one. It should be a mix of family members, friends, and possibly other community members such as a pastor or rabbi. Don’t overwhelm your loved one with too many people, or they may feel attacked.
Different members of your group may have different roles. Family members may feel strong emotions during the intervention that keep them from staying focused. Non-family members may need to take on the responsibility of keeping the intervention on task.
Make sure you can rely on all members of your intervention group. Don’t invite anyone your loved one dislikes or anyone who may not stick to the intervention plan. Ensure all members of your group know that your loved one should not know about the intervention before it takes place.
Choose Your Intervention Location and Time
You will want to hold your intervention at a time when your loved one is unlikely to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs. For instance, you may meet with them when they get off of work or earlier in the day (though not right when they wake up).
You’ll also want to choose a location where your loved one feels safe and comfortable. It should be private and somewhere you won’t be interrupted. You may want to avoid having the intervention in their home, as they may feel attacked. Instead, hold it at the home of one of your intervention group members, especially if your loved one visits there often.
Rehearse Your Intervention
An intervention rehearsal helps all members of your intervention group get on the same page. You should use this time to share information about your loved one’s addiction and to practice saying what you plan to say during the intervention. You should share the intervention plan, which may include:
- Who speaks in what order
- What treatment services you want your loved one to seek out
- Consequences for not agreeing to treatment
Rehearsal also gives you the opportunity to predict how your loved one might react. It is important to have calm responses to their possible objections and tactics for getting the intervention back on track if they try to derail it or evade it. Remember that emotions will be running high throughout the intervention, which can make it difficult to stay focused on your goal.
At the end of the intervention, you should ask your loved one for an immediate decision on whether or not they will seek treatment. You should set up a definitive plan for their treatment immediately so they cannot put it off. You should also be prepared to follow through on consequences if they deny treatment. Consequences may include kicking them out of the house or no longer providing financial support.