An intervention is an important event, created by family and friends of a person struggling with addiction, to help the person realize they have a problem, they need help, and they have support. While reality television shows have popularized interventions in recent years, these depictions often offer a false sense of how an intervention should be conducted. While interventions should always provide encouragement and incentive for the person struggling with addiction to seek help, they come in more forms than the classic family meeting frequently displayed in popular media.
What Is an Intervention?
An intervention is a structured conversation between loved ones and an addict, often supervised by an intervention specialist.
Successful interventions can help an addict’s loved ones express their feelings constructively.
If simply talking to the person with the problem doesn’t work, a group intervention is an effective next step. Interventions also show addicts how their actions affect those they care about. The goal is to help the person struggling get into addiction recovery and rehabilitation.
When to Intervene for a Loved One
It can be hard to approach someone struggling with addiction. Although friends or loved ones mean well, they might not know what to say. The addicted person might also deny that they have a drug or alcohol problem, making open conversation difficult.
Outward signs someone is struggling might include:
- Secretive behavior
- Borrowing money
- Aggressive behavior
- Deterioration of physical appearance
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Problems at work or school
- Health issues
How to Stage an Intervention
- Connect with an Intervention Specialist
- Form Your Intervention Group
- Learn and Rehearse
- Choose an Intervention Meeting Place and Time
- Set Boundaries. Be Prepared For Anything
Things to Avoid at an Intervention
Even with preparation, there are important points to avoid during an intervention. These include:
- Labels like “alcoholic,” “addict,” “junkie,” etc.: These can be taken as accusatory. Instead, opt for neutral terms and avoid defining the person by their addiction.
- Too many people: Pick a core group of close friends and family, and stick to a small number of people.
- Being upset during the intervention: Find ways to manage personal feelings so the event doesn’t become overrun by strong emotions.
- An intoxicated subject: If the subject of the intervention is intoxicated when the event is supposed to occur, it is not likely to be effective. Be prepared to wait for the person to sober up.
To fully understand what an intervention should accomplish, it can be important to know what an intervention should not entail. According to the Association of Professional Intervention Specialists, an intervention is not:
- Based in shame
- An ambush
The only way for interventions to be successful is if they are based in love, honesty, and support.
The Next Steps Forward
Those struggling with substance abuse may be in denial about the harm they are causing themselves or others, but an intervention can help them understand that their behaviors are hurting those they love, not just their own physical and mental health. If the subject of the intervention knows they have support as they enter medical detox and a comprehensive rehabilitation program, they are more likely to agree to treatment.