An intervention is an event that can be used to get someone who is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol the help they need. It is designed to help motivate the addict or alcoholic to change their behaviors by confronting them with the consequences of their actions, and getting them to see the benefits of attending a rehab program.
Interventions can put together with or without the help of a professional intervention specialist that is trained to plan and execute them. By the time a family or close friends start to contemplate an intervention there have been many consequences for the individual who has become addicted.
Addiction affects the alcoholic or addict directly, but it also affects everyone that is close to them in numerous ways. It slowly but surely destroys personal relationships, and leads to isolation and alienation. Family, friends, spouses and significant others, co-workers, associates, and employers are all unwittingly involved.
Often the alcoholic or addict is blind to full extent of how their substance abuse is affecting their own life let alone how it affects others in their lives. In some ways the addict is the last one to know, and for this reason it can be very hard to get them to see the benefits, and necessity of getting help.
Denial is a part of the addiction process and users have often justified their behaviors out of necessity to continue using. When dependence has set in the addict is making decisions and taking actions based on physiological changes the result from their abuse. They aren’t able to see the benefits of treatment because they have developed an obsession for the substance, and in most cases need it to function. This is why a direct approach is necessary in order to get the addict to understand how severe the situation actually is. By planning an intervention the concerned parties can work together and take action as a team.
The Purpose of an Intervention
A typical intervention is organized by loved ones and people who are the closest to the individual who is experiencing problems related to an addiction. It can involve anyone who is willing to participate, and anyone the addict will see as someone who has their best interest in mind.
It is essential that the addict who is the intervention is for is surrounded by people they love, and trust. It is imperative that they don’t know in advance that an intervention is planned so that they can’t prepare to counter or justify their situation. The intervention team meets in advance to ensure that they are all on the same page, and that they are all willing to work together to help the addict who isn’t able to help themselves.
The goals of an intervention are:
- Present the addict with the reality of how addiction is negatively affecting their lives
- Get them to understand that is normal to need help, and get them to see the benefits of treatment
- Give them the chance to accept the predetermined plan of addiction recovery
Planning the Intervention
A successful intervention requires planning, and should never be held without a proper plan. Interventions are only as successful as the planning that goes into it, and this is why many loved ones and families rely on intervention professionals. Situations can come up that make it seem like it would be a good idea to hold an intervention at the spur of the moment, but this could have disastrous results which can be difficult to undo. For the best chance of success arrangements must be made carefully, and details should be worked out beforehand.
The first step in organizing an intervention is bringing the team together. Since the addict doesn’t believe they need help, the team should consist of people they trust. It is good idea to choose a team leader to coordinate the planning. If the addict has a history of violence, extreme mental illness, or prior suicide attempt seek out the help of a professional interventionist. Their unbiased experience can add objectivity and keep everything moving in the right direction in an emotionally charged situation.
Once the team is solidified, the different members should prepare the following:
- Each should write down something to say or read to the addict in advance that addresses the need for help, and how they see the addict’s life improving if they are willing to enter treatment.
- Individually they should outline the consequences that the subject will face if they refuse to accept their help.
- It is very important for the team to coordinate with a rehab center ahead of time to make sure they will be able to admit the addict when they agree to go. Treatment needs to be available immediately to make sure the addict doesn’t change their mind, and the team will need to find a center and let them know that they are holding an intervention and when it is.
Blaming or venting frustration won’t be helpful in getting the addict to see that they should cooperate. Team members need to work together to encourage the addict to see the benefits of their offer. The team needs to agree that no one will tip off the subject of the intervention about their plans. The addict must not know about the plan.
Each member of the team needs to commit to act as a group, and anyone who doesn’t have their heart in it should be allowed to not participate. The team should agree on a location for the formal intervention, and choose a member to get the addict there without tipping them off as to what’s going on.
On the day of the intervention the team gets together and the member who was chosen brings the addict there without letting them know where they are going or what is happening. Each team member then addresses the addict one by one and each explains what will happen if they refuse help. When everyone is done the team then offers the option to start treatment right away. If all goes as planned the addict is transported to the rehab center as quickly as possible.
Interventionists are trained in all aspects of planning and executing effective interventions. They are helpful during preparations to make sure the team is focused. It can be a great help to have an intervention professional at the event itself, but this is not necessary in all cases.
There are situations which make it necessary to have an intervention professional present. If the alcoholic or addict has a history of violence or suicide attempts, an intervention may be too volatile for the family on their own. Intervention professionals know how to direct things, and their unbiased input usually prevents the addict from being able to use personal attacks.
A family should use their best judgment to decide on whether to hire an intervention professional or not, but remember to keep the team’s safety in mind. Interventions can be powerful and they can change lives, but they can also be filled with emotion. No one knows how their loved one will respond when they are presented with the painful realities of how their addiction is affecting others, so planning and caution can make all the difference.