Intervention: How To Help a Loved one Overcome Addiction

Intervention – The importance of it as a tool to help in recovery

What is an intervention

Typically an intervention is a carefully planned out meeting that is generally conducted by the addict’s family and friends.  In addition to family and friends there is usually either a doctor or a professionally trained drug and alcohol counselor taking lead. During the intervention everyone participating will tell the person how alcohol or drug use has affected them in a negative way. They will tell them how much they are loved and how much the addiction has affected their relationships.  They will also put into place consequences that they will stand by if the addict refuses to get help.  This is often harder for family and friends to do then for the addict to hear.

How does an intervention work

  1. Make a plan – either a family member or close friend proposes an intervention. At this point it is a good idea to consult a professional counselor who has experience in interventions to help organize an effective intervention. Keep in mind that an intervention can be a highly emotional situation that can cause anger, resentment and a feeling of betrayal.
  1. Next gather information – the group members go about finding out the extent of the addict’s problem and do some research to find out the best course of action. ie: treatment facilities.
  1. Gather your intervention team – it is best to involve the addict’s immediate family if possible as well as trusted close friends.  Then set a date, time and place. It is often a good idea to have a run through before the actual intervention. This way everyone including the counselor knows the plan and the structure of the meeting. It is usually the friends that keep the meeting focused on the facts at hand. Do not let your loved one know about the intervention. 
  1. Decide on a specific consequence – make sure that you have a consequence that you can stick to if your loved one refuses treatment.  It is important that everyone on the team decides beforehand what they will or will not do if treatment is refused.
  1. Prepare – Prior to the intervention it is a good idea to make notes as mentioned before, an intervention can be emotionally charged so it’s a good idea to write down what you want to say so that you don’t forget.
  1. Hold the meeting – at this point it is time for the meeting. Do not tell your loved one that you are holding a meeting. Have someone accompany them to the meeting site. Then as firmly and as clearly as possible have each team member express their concerns and their feelings. Also make it clear as to what the  consequences are if the offer of treatment is not taken.  Make sure that you are able to stand by what you said would happen if treatment is refused.
  1. Final step – this is where the counselor comes in. The counselor presents the treatment option that has been agreed upon by the team. The decision to go must be made immediately with your loved one leaving as soon as the intervention is completed.

Your best outcome is that your loved one listens to what everyone has to say, takes it seriously, agrees to go to treatment and leaves right away.

What if your loved one refuses the help offered

Unfortunately not all interventions are a success, even though it is planned out well, family and friends participate and consequences are put into place. Your loved one can still refuse the treatment plan. Your loved one may feel betrayed by all of this, they may become angry and resentful. Or they just may not be ready to admit that they have a problem. 

It is important to prepare yourself for the possibility that this may be the case.  If your loved one refuses treatment be prepared to follow through on the things that you said would happen if treatment was refused.
Often the case may be  that partners, siblings, children or parents are subjected to abuse, violence, threats and emotional upheaval because of the behavior of the addict.  While you can’t control the behavior of your loved one, you can control your response to it.  Remove yourself and any children from the destructive situation and do not return until the behavior is changed.

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