Interventions are tools that families or loved ones can use to motivate someone that they love who is struggling with addiction to see that they need help, and understand the benefits of entering into a rehabilitation program. Interventions can be conducted with a professional intervention specialist who is trained to plan and execute them, or can be put together by loved their own.
An intervention can be a defining event in addict’s life, but isn’t always the first course of action to take in all cases. Interventions should not take place without serious planning and consideration.
Addiction affects the substance abuser first and foremost, but it also affects everyone else in their lives. It takes a heavy toll on the addict’s health, and impairs their social functioning at the same time. Addiction can destroy personal relationships, and lead to isolation from family, friends, significant others, associates, employers, and co-workers. Often the addicted individual isn’t able to see how their using is affecting their own life let alone how it affects everyone else around them. For this reason it can be very hard for the addict to see the benefits of getting help.
Unfortunately denial is a part of addiction and users often unwittingly justify their behavior to continue using. Remember that this is normal and common in the process of addiction, and that the addict is acting based on physiological changes that have occurred as a result of their abuse. They don’t see the benefits of finding help because their body and mind tells them that they need the substance, and in most cases they literally need it to function. This is why a direct approach is necessary in order to get the addict to understand how severe the situation actually is. By planning an intervention the concerned parties can work together and take action as a team.
The Goals of an Intervention Services
A typical intervention is put together by loved ones and people who are the closest to the individual who is experiencing problems related to an addiction. It can include anyone who is willing to help, and anyone the addict may see as someone they who cares for them. It is important that the person who is the subject of the intervention is surrounded by people they love, and trust. It is imperative that they don’t know in advance that an intervention is planned so that they can’t prepare to explain away their situation. The intervention team should get together in advance to ensure that they are all united in their cause, and that they are all willing to work together to help the addict.
The goals of an intervention are as follows:
- Present the addict with real-life examples of how addiction is negatively affecting their lives
- Get them to see the reasons why getting help will benefit them
- Give them the opportunity to get help for their addiction related problems immediately
Planning the Intervention
Interventions require planning to execute and should never be held without it. An intervention will only be as successful as the planning that goes into it and for this reason many loved ones and families choose to work with an intervention professional. In the heat of the moment it might sound like a good idea to hold an intervention spur of the moment, but this could have disastrous results which can be difficult to undo. For the best chance of success arrangements must be made carefully, and details should be worked out beforehand.
The first step in organizing an intervention is to assemble a team. Since the addict isn’t reaching out for help, the team should consist of people they trust. It is good idea to elect a team leader to coordinate the planning. If the addict has a history of violence, extreme mental illness, or prior suicide attempts a professional interventionist is likely required. Their unbiased experience can add objectivity and keep everything moving in the right direction in an emotionally charged situation.
Once the team members have been chosen, the group should prepare the following:
Each member should prepare something to say or read to the addict in advance that addresses the need for help, and how they see the addict’s life improving if they are willing to enter treatment.
- Each member should decide on consequences they will impose it the individual refuses help.
- Blaming or venting frustration won’t be effective to get the addict to see that they should cooperate so team members need to encourage each other to encourage the subject of the intervention.
- It is very important for the team to coordinate with a rehabilitation program ahead of time to make sure they will be able to admit the addict if they agree to go. Rehab needs to be available immediately to make sure the addict doesn’t change their mind, and the team will need to find a center and inform them about when the intervention will be held.
- The team needs to agree that no one will tip off the subject of the intervention about their plans. The addict must not know about the plan.
- Each member of the team needs to commit to act as a group, and anyone who doesn’t have their heart in it should be allowed to not participate.
- The team should agree on a location for the formal intervention, and choose a member to get the addict there without tipping them off as to what’s going on.
On the day of the intervention the team gathers and the member who was chosen to gets the addict there without letting them know where they are going or what is happening. Each team member then talks to the addict one by one, and each goes over what will happen if they refuse help. When everyone is done the team then offers the option to enter the rehabilitation program. If
all goes as planned the addict then starts treatment as quickly as possible.
Intervention professionals have training in all aspects of planning and administering effective interventions. They can be helpful during planning to make sure the team is properly prepared. It can be a great help to have an intervention professional at the actual event, but this is optional in some cases.
In specific cases it is necessary to have an intervention professional present. If the subject of the intervention has a history of violence or suicidal behavior, an intervention may be too volatile for a family to hold alone. If the team is unable to control the event the outcome can be a disaster. Intervention professionals know how to keep things moving in the right direction, and their unbiased input usually prevents the addict from being able to use personal attacks.
You should use your best judgment to decide on whether to employ an intervention professional or not, but always keep the team’s safety in mind. Interventions can be powerful events that can change lives, but they can also be emotionally charged and messy. No one can predict exactly how an addict will respond when they are presented with the painful realities of how their addiction is affecting others, so caution should always be used.