An Inside Look at the Intervention Process

Drug addiction is a progressive and complex disease. Oftentimes, individuals dealing with addiction are unable to realize the full extent of their problems. Typically, this is due to the individual being consumed with the need to use, leading them to become blind to the consequences they are facing. This may lead friends and family members to frantically worry, wondering what they could do to help. Fortunately, individuals worried about a loved one struggling with an addiction have the opportunity to conduct a life-saving intervention.

An intervention process is an event created by friends, family members, and specialists to help the addicted individual realize they need professional help and have support. Reality television often falsely portrays interventions, leading people to be unaware of the true nature of this life-saving procedure. As shown on television, addiction interventions should always provide the addicted individual with support, encouragement, and incentive to get help. However, this procedure may be conducted in more ways than the classic family meeting frequently displayed in popular media.

Let’s take a look at the step-by-step process of hosting an intervention.

The Process of an Intervention: Step by Step

Drug and alcohol interventions are carefully thought out plans to help an addicted individual realize they need professional help to get sober. With that being said, interventions must be planned meticulously due to the sensitive nature of this process.

Step 1: Get Professional Help

The first thing everyone should do when planning an intervention is call in professional help. This involves contacting a professional interventionist, social worker, or doctor. Additionally, individuals should gather friends and loved ones of the addicted individual to be involved in the intervention. The intervention process relies heavily on support, therefore, the work cannot be done alone.

Step 2: Form the Intervention Team

After finding a professional interventionist, the intervention team must be formed. The intervention team is the core group of organizers, including an intervention expert, family members, and friends of the addicted individual. It is important to note that people struggling with their issues with substance abuse should not be included in an intervention team.

Step 3: Make a Detailed Plan

Interventions are time-sensitive and every detail must be carefully planned and thought through. Because of this, a detailed plan should be created, including scheduling a specific day, time of day, location, and guest list. Additionally, this plan should include an outline of what each person will say and how the process will work.

Step 4: Become Knowledgable on Addiction and Treatment

Each individual involved in the intervention process must become educated on the substance of abuse, addiction, and the recovery process. Additionally, information about detox and rehabilitation programs for the addicted individual must be gathered before the intervention is conducted.

Step 5: Write Impact Statements

Each friend, family member, and loved one present at the intervention must have an impact statement. Impact statements are a huge aspect of the intervention process, as they emotionally appeal to the addicted individual. These statements should be personal, detailing how the individual was impacted by their loved one’s addiction. It is well known that substance abuse deeply affects personal relationships. These written impact statements may help the addicted individual realize the extent of the pain their addiction has caused. It is important to note that these statements should be focused on emotional honesty and love, rather than on personal attacks.

Step 6: Offer Help

Individuals attending the intervention should be prepared to help the addicted individual in some form while they go through detox, rehabilitation, and the recovery process. For example, this may include offering rides to treatment therapy groups, participating in family counseling, or going to addiction support groups with the individual.

Step 7: Set Boundaries

If the individual refuses treatment, friends and family members must be ready to set clear and firm boundaries.  Family members and friends present must commit to ending codependency and enabling behaviors. Additionally, these consequences must be enforced if the person refuses help or the individual will not receive benefits from the intervention.

Step 8: Practice and Rehearse

Talking about a loved one’s addiction causes high emotions. To avoid blaming the loved one for their addiction or falling into self-pity, the impact statements and the entire intervention process should be rehearsed. In doing so, everyone will be prepared regarding what to say, how much time to take up, and what they should avoid mentioning.

Step 9: Manage Expectations

Unfortunately, interventions do not guarantee that the individual will receive help. Ultimately, the choice is still in your addicted loved one’s hands. With that being said, expectations must be managed. The intervention process works to appeal to the emotions and needs of the addicted individual. If they are not ready for treatment, family members and friends must follow through with consequences and boundaries.

Step 10: Follow Up

Whether the individual accepts professional treatment or not, you must uphold statements made during the intervention. Otherwise, the individual may experience excessive stress, which slows down their rehabilitation process, leads to relapse, and might deepen their issues with substance abuse.

What to Avoid During an Intervention

Even with preparation, there is an array of statements or issues to avoid during an intervention.

Things to avoid during an intervention include:

  • Using labels such as “alcoholic,” “addict,” “junkie,” etc.: These can be taken as accusatory and hurtful statements. Instead, utilize neutral terms and avoid talking about the individual as if they are their addiction.
  • Avoid including too many people. Pick a small group of the individual’s closest friends and family.
  • Make sure you aren’t responding out of frustration or anger. Practice managing personal feelings so the event is not overrun by strong emotions.
  • If the subject of the intervention is under the influence when the event is supposed to take place, it will not be effective. Wait for the individual to sober up before conducting an intervention.

Interventions are successful when they are based on love, honesty, and support. With that being said, avoid speaking or acting on emotion during the intervention. Being supportive, honest, and open-minded will prove to be beneficial.

Planning an Intervention for an Addicted Loved One

If you are worried about a loved one’s substance abuse, it may be time to confront them about their drug use and consider staging an intervention. With the right addiction rehabilitation program, recovery is possible. If you suspect that your loved one is struggling from addiction, pick up the phone, and contact a dedicated treatment provider today.

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