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How To Start An Intervention

An intervention is a planned gathering of family and friends to confront someone about a drug or alcohol addiction. When organizing an intervention, there are several factors to consider, such as who should be involved, what will be covered, and where it will take place.

Who to Invite to An Intervention?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “an intervention team usually includes four to six people who are important in the life of your loved one – people he or she loves, likes, respects or depends on.” People who offer support through friendship, mentoring, or shared religious beliefs are valuable members of an intervention. There is also the option for an intervention specialist who will help you with decision-making and planning. When deciding who will attend the intervention, you should consider the personality of the person with the SUD. For example, if they are introverted you might only involve a few people.

Make sure not to include anyone who:

  • Has relationship issues with the person with the SUD
  • Is currently dealing with their own addiction or mental health crisis
  • Tends to minimize the problems of the person who uses substances
  • Makes excuses or defends the person who uses substances’ actions
  • Will go against the agreed-upon script for the intervention
  • May potentially sabotage the intervention with inappropriate behavior

Human connection is complicated, and while someone may not be an ideal candidate for an in-person intervention for any of the reasons listed above, they may still be an influential figure in the fight for substance use disorder recovery. Perhaps an ex-wife or younger sibling wants to help but does not feel comfortable being involved in the intervention. In this case, consider having this person contribute by mailing a letter that can be given to the person who uses substances or read at the intervention.

Staging A Successful Intervention

What is the order in which you should hold a successful intervention for someone with a substance use disorder (SUD)? The following steps are outlined by most health clinics that specialize in interventions for substance use disorders and addiction issues:

  • Forming a plan
  • Doing the research
  • Strategically choosing who will serve as a successful support team
  • Discuss the end goal and actions needed to make the recovery happen
  • Organize where, when, and who will say what at the intervention
  • Find a time that works and physically hold the space for the intervention to occur
  • Have the individual of concern commit to a recovery plan
  • Follow up

Planning and Research

During the first step, a plan is proposed to hold an intervention for a loved one in need. An intervention may arise due to a family or friend witnessing troubling behavior caused by substance use. It may become difficult to ignore the issue. After observing a loved one in danger, you might find yourself on a mission to do everything you can to make sure you prevent them from using again. This is the point when you can reach out to other loved ones of the person who uses substances and come together for the best interest of your mutual friend. Together, you may commiserate, share your concerns, and brainstorm how to proceed forward.

Once you feel supported and validated, you will want to research how to carry out the most successful intervention for your loved one. You will first need to understand the specific substance use disorder. While many addictions result in selfish and dangerous behaviors, every disorder is different and different drugs result in a multitude of reactions and behaviors.

Consulting An Intervention Specialist

To have a successful intervention, you should consult a health professional or qualified intervention specialist. They can help give you a clinical understanding of your loved one’s disorder. Many people are available to help, like a “qualified professional counselor, an addiction professional, a psychologist, a mental counselor, a social worker or an interventionist to help you organize an effective intervention.”

Because many people with substance use disorders can feel emotional, attached, and defensive, it can be extremely helpful to have an unbiased facilitator to balance the energy in the room and redirect the discussion to a productive conversation. The person who uses substances may feel skeptical or resistant to a stranger giving them instruction, but “nonfamily members of the [intervention] team help keep the discussion focused on the facts of the problem and shared solutions rather than strong emotional responses.”

Having Treatment Options Ready

While it is critical to research the specific condition of your loved one, it is also critical to research what treatment involves. You will need a direct game plan for onboarding into a treatment facility. Luckily, at Boardwalk Recovery Center, we can help you get your loved ones the help they need as soon as they agree to treatment.

Don’t wait to reach out to the facility after researching and finding a SUD treatment center for your loved one. Communicate with them before the intervention occurs and the individual agrees to get help. There are many reasons to be proactive, including the potential for delay in treatment after an intervention. If an individual decides to get help, you will want to get them admitted as soon as possible, so there’s no time to rethink the decision. Treatment centers are accustomed to getting questions from concerned friends and family who want to help their loved ones. A treatment facility may offer insight into running the intervention and encourage the person with the SUD. You’ll also be able to plan logistics with the treatment center, such as airport pickups, packing essentials, and establishing a trusting relationship so that you can work together while your loved one recovers. It’s never too early to reach out; preparation and careful planning will only make the intervention go more smoothly.

Setting A Time and Place

Once you’ve established a trusted team and the plan has been thoroughly detailed, the date for the intervention should be set. Every team member should have set talking points to mention and agree that they will not go off-topic. The process will be smoother if a set date, time, and place are agreed upon and will help avoid delays in beginning the conversation. While friends and family should prepare themselves, the person with the SUD should not know about the intervention in advance. This is to prevent them from leaving the location and avoiding confrontation. The smartest way to get your loved one to show up is “without revealing the reason, your loved one with the addiction is asked to the intervention site.”

Establishing Consequences and Supporting Recovery

Hopefully, the individual struggling with substance use will arrive ready to listen. Each intervention group member will share their planned point of concern, their feelings, and the impact of the substance use disorder. Then, a recovery plan will be laid out, encouraging treatment in a facility. The loved one should be asked to accept help immediately, and you should lay out the consequences if they refuse.

Members of the intervention team must commit to specific consequences if the loved one refuses treatment. This could be anything from cutting off financial support, making them pay rent, or asking them to move out. This sends the message that you will no longer support their substance use, but you will happily support their recovery.

The team at Boardwalk Recovery Center understands what it takes to get your loved one to walk through our doors. We commend you and stand ready to help.

Additional Sources

  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451

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