7 Tips for Holding a Successful Intervention

When someone you care about is harming himself and his loved ones with drugs or alcohol, an intervention could represent your best shot at turning things around. Because you have so much at stake when you intervene in someone’s addiction, it’s crucial to prepare the interview carefully. Use these tips to maximize the benefits of your intervention and get the positive outcomes you want. 

1. Take time to plan the meeting.

Planning is the key to holding a successful intervention. In fact, the Mayo Clinic cautions that an improperly planned intervention can worsen the addict’s denial and make her more defensive. Although the issues surrounding the interview may be emotionally charged, the meeting itself must be arranged in an objective, rational manner. Choose a time and place where you’ll encounter few distractions. The setting should be neutral, safe and secure. If your home doesn’t feel like a safe setting, consider a therapist’s clinic, and office or even a motel room.

2. Seek a professional’s advice.

By the time you reach the point that you’re considering an intervention, your life probably feels out of control. A professional intervention counselor brings an outsider’s neutrality to a chaotic situation. Intervention specialists have advanced training in the nature of addiction. An interventionist can help you plan your meeting and can even participate as part of the intervention team.

3. Choose the intervention team carefully.

An intervention team should include family members, coworkers, friends or addiction professionals who are sincerely concerned about the subject or who have been harmed by the subject’s behavior. Choose team members who will state their case clearly without blame, accusation or uncontrolled emotion. Everyone on the team should be fully supportive of the addict’s recovery; people who are using drugs with the subject or somehow supporting her addiction should not be included. Vulnerable family members, such as young children or spouses who’ve been abused, may not be able to handle the intensity of an intervention.

4. Establish clear goals and consequences.

The purpose of an intervention isn’t just to inform the addict that his or her behavior is hurting others; it’s also to convince the addict to make serious changes. Entering a treatment program should be one of these changes. Other goals might be to attend family counseling, spend sober time with children or join a 12-step group. The addict must also know that there will be serious consequences if he or she refuses to accept the treatment plan, such as a marital separation or loss of custody. To keep your team focused on these goals, consider writing down the terms and conditions in the form of a contract.

5. Rehearse the intervention in advance.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org emphasizes that remaining calm and continuing the discussion are two of the most important points to remember during an intervention. Your loved one may become defensive, manipulative, hostile or tearful. Everyone on the team should get together to rehearse their statements ahead of time, with one person playing the role of the subject. Your intervention counselor should attend the rehearsal to give you pointers on how to make the interview as effective as possible.

6. Focus on motivation, not accusation.

Many addicts who enter treatment aren’t internally motivated to stop using drugs for the rest of their lives. However, an effective intervention can motivate them to enter rehab. According to Alcohol Research & Health, taking that first step may be the start of a successful long-term recovery. If you focus your intervention on motivating your loved one to begin the process of rehab, you’re more likely to get the results you’re looking for. While it’s important to discuss the negative effects of the addict’s behavior, it’s also imperative to talk about the positive consequences of rehab. Because it’s hard for addicts to imagine living without drugs or alcohol forever, setting short-term goals will be more effective than talking about permanent abstinence. Immediate goals might include finishing a 30-day residential treatment program or agreeing to go through medical detox. Keep in mind that for the addict, even 24 hours of sobriety is a victory.

7. Be prepared to stick to the terms of your plan.

Addiction can make the user extremely manipulative, even deceitful. If your loved one agrees to the terms of your treatment plan, you must demand to see those goals carried out. If she refuses to go to treatment, you must be prepared to follow through with the consequences you described. Backing down will only reinforce the addict’s self-destructive behavior and defeat the purpose of the intervention.

An intervention could represent a key turning point in an addict’s life. To make the most of this opportunity, seek help from compassionate professionals who have extensive experience in the field of drug and alcohol rehab. At Axis, we’re ready to help you and the people you love start the journey of recovery today.

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