Having to stand by and watch a loved one suffer the consequences of addiction can leave you feeling helpless. There may not be much you can do from a medical standpoint, but you might be able to help by participating in an intervention. An intervention represents an opportunity for you and others to help the addict reach a decision to seek treatment.
The Mayo Clinic describes an intervention has a “carefully planned process” designed to confront the addicted family member or friend. The idea is to encourage the individual to seek professional treatment. Below are some tips for conducting a successful intervention.
Enlist the Help of a Specialist
The best intentions among intervention participants don’t necessarily guarantee success. While there’s no way to be sure your intervention will achieve its stated goals, the chances of success go up when you engage the help of an intervention specialist. This is someone who has years of experience in addiction treatment. It is someone who understands how to confront the addict without chasing him away.
Attempting an intervention without the help of a specialist can actually do more harm than good. Despite a sincere desire to see their loved one to seek treatment, well-intentioned family members and friends can say or do the wrong things without professional guidance.
Rehearse Before the Intervention
Interventions tend to be emotionally charged experiences. As such, it’s helpful to know what you plan to say before you actually get there. This is where rehearsing can be very helpful. By getting together and running through the event ahead of time, participants can figure out what they want to say and how they want to say it.
Some people find it helpful to write down what they want to say on paper. When it comes time for them to speak, it’s easier to read what they’ve written than to speak off-the-cuff. If you are better at reading than ad-libbing, writing down your comments ahead of time is probably a wise idea.
Refrain from Accusations
There are two different schools of thought regarding how interventions should be conducted. One says that the addict should be confronted with facts about how his addiction is harming him. The other says the addict should be confronted with facts regarding how his behavior is harming others.
Regardless of your approach, the one thing both have in common is that they refrain from accusations. The goal is not to accuse the addict of engaging in immoral behavior, purposely hurting other people, etc. It is to show your concern about the consequences of his addictive behavior.
Choose a Neutral Location
It is natural for a person being confronted to immediately go on the defensive. Such defensive behavior can be exacerbated if the intervention takes place in a location where the addict feels outnumbered. As such, experts recommend choosing a neutral location.
One suggestion is to hold the intervention in the office of the specialist you’ve chosen to assist you. The group could agree to meet in a public park or at the house of a mutual acquaintance who is not participating in the intervention. Whatever location you choose should be one that is as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.
Be Prepared to Act
Given that the ultimate goal of an intervention is to encourage the addict to seek treatment, be prepared to act right away. Search out treatment options well in advance so that you are prepared to give the addict options. It’s important that you and the group be ready to go before the intervention starts.
A successful intervention concludes with the addict agreeing to seek treatment. Being ready with treatment options enables the addict to make a choice and put the wheels in motion before there is an opportunity for a change of heart. If you wait a day or so before researching treatment options, you may find that the addict has decided against treatment in the interim.
An intervention can be a helpful tool for encouraging an addicted loved one to get help. There is never a guarantee that staging an intervention will work, but it’s worth a try.