If you have a loved one struggling with substance abuse, you understand the pain of watching a person you care about spiraling out of control. You know the pain of talking to them about it and your words falling on deaf ears: a sign that they’d rather waste their lives away.
If you’re in such a situation, you must consider substance abuse intervention.
What Is a Substance Abuse Intervention?
A substance abuse intervention is a planned and structured conversation between you and a loved one to discuss and find a way of helping them overcome their addiction. It’s advisable to have an intervention specialist present.
The purpose of a substance abuse intervention is to help the addicted person realize that they have a problem and accept avenues for getting help. It also allows loved ones to express their concern and love for the person struggling with substance abuse.
How Interventions Work
Intervention is a simple process that involves sitting down a person with addiction and showing them that they have a substance abuse problem. In some instances, a counselor or intervention specialist leads the discussion. Otherwise, an employer or family member can do so, depending on how the intervention is organized.
While you can organize an intervention without the person knowing, modern techniques now involve letting the person know that you’re talking to a counselor. This allows you to convince them to participate in the intervention willingly and not feel like they’ve been tricked into it.
The Benefits of Drug and Alcohol Interventions
When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they usually don’t see that they have a problem—they’re in denial—and therein lies an essential benefit of substance abuse intervention. It helps open the person’s eyes to see that there really is a problem. It’s also through an intervention that most substance abuse victims realize that their addiction doesn’t only affect them but also their family and friends.
Another benefit of staging an intervention is that it opens up the person to receive treatment. In many cases, intervention is usually the first step to recovery.
Usually, people with substance abuse problems isolate themselves because they believe their family and friends don’t understand them. In some cases, they even feel no one cares about them. Staging an intervention is an excellent way of overcoming this and letting the person know that they are surrounded by people who love them. This is essential in gaining their trust and getting them to accept getting addiction recovery treatment.
When to Know It’s Time for an Intervention
Knowing when to stage an intervention can be tricky. However, you can determine when a loved one needs one with a little bit of observation and diligence.
The first step in deciding when to stage an intervention is to determine if an intervention is necessary. In other words, is there really an addiction problem? If an addiction problem is present, how severe is it? Once you’ve answered these questions, some signs that can help you know when it’s time for intervention include:
- Behavioral changes
- Deteriorating physical appearance
- Having problems at school or work
- Secretive behavior and isolation
- Weight gain or weight loss
However, the most significant indicator that an intervention is necessary is when your loved one is in denial about their addiction and is reluctant or opposed to getting treatment. If this is the situation with your loved one, then an intervention is definitely in order.
Substance Abuse Intervention Planning Tips
Once you’ve determined that it’s time to stage an intervention, you must plan it well for it to be effective.
Just like everyone is unique, every intervention is also different. The main reason for this is that each situation is different. Therefore, each intervention must be carefully tailored to meet the individual’s needs and the circumstances surrounding their addiction. Here are a few tips to help you plan an effective intervention:
Determine Who to Involve
Your first port of call when planning an intervention is deciding who to involve. The people involved in your intervention must be those the person knows well, trusts, and loves. You must also determine who will be the main speaker or person directing the intervention proceedings.
Decide Where to Hold the Intervention
When it comes to place, pick a venue the person is comfortable with. This will give them a sense of security, allowing them to feel safe to discuss their addiction problems openly. Remember, an intervention can put your loved one on edge and make them feel defensive. That’s why choosing a place that puts them at ease is essential to your intervention’s success.
Decide When to Hold the Intervention
Another critical element of the intervention is the timing. Don’t hold an intervention when the person is under the influence. Remember, drugs and alcohol alter how a person thinks and reacts. Instead, pick a time when you know the person will be completely sober. Tips on choosing the right time include:
- Try early in the morning when the person is more likely to be sober.
- Have one after a significant substance abuse-related incident. Staging an intervention at this time can help emphasize the need for rehabilitation.
The bottom line is that you must stage your intervention in a place the person feels safe, and at a time they’re most likely to be sober.
How to Stage an Intervention
Now that you’ve laid all the groundwork for your substance abuse intervention, let’s look at how you can stage an intervention.
Plan the Approach and Invitation
The way you approach the person and invite them to the intervention is critical. Do it in such a way that it won’t scare them off. The risk of them making excuses or not showing up is one reason most interventions are based on the element of surprise.
Each person involved in the intervention narrates specific instances of how their loved one’s addiction problem has impacted them. This is meant to show the person that the problem you’re trying to help them through is real.
Deliver the Action Plan
Once everyone has spoken, the leader of the intervention should deliver a plan of action for the addicted person to follow. This usually includes enrolling in a drug rehabilitation program or checking into a drug rehab center.
Elicit an Immediate Decision
The main point of staging an intervention is to help your loved one take a step in the right direction. Therefore, the meeting shouldn’t end before they decide on getting treatment. If they agree to get treatment, have a couple of options ready and encourage the person to take the next step quickly.
Be Prepared for a Refusal
Not all interventions succeed. Your loved one may reject your proposal for getting addiction recovery treatment. When this happens, let the person know that you will be taking things more seriously and won’t enable their behavior anymore. Each person must express how they will feel if the person refuses to get help.
However, be careful to remain calm and not turn the intervention into an argument or, worse still, a fight. Treat your loved one with respect and show love throughout the process. Doing so will increase the chances of them processing the intervention in a better light when they’re alone. As a result, they may even reach out to you for help.
When to Call a Professional
While you can stage an intervention as a support group of family and friends, there are times and situations when roping in a professional is necessary. So, how do you know when you need to call a professional?
- You’re not confident in handling an intervention.
- Relationship dynamics require you to enlist the help of a professional.
- Your loved one is in denial and won’t listen to close family and friends.
Staging an intervention as a support group is a great idea, but for the intervention to be more effective, it’s always advisable to have a professional involved. After all, they have more experience dealing with different kinds of people and can handle different situations. Family and friends who do not stage interventions properly can end up “pointing fingers” and can cause more harm by placing the person on the defensive. Dr. Keith Marshall of Dedicato Treatment Center is an intervention specialist.
If you have a loved one who needs substance abuse intervention, Dedicato Treatment Center can help you. We have a team of dedicated professional therapists who can help you stage an effective intervention. So, go ahead and get in touch by calling us at 626-921-0113.