If you have friends or loved ones suffering from addictions, it’s often hard to get them to open up. Once you try to talk to them about their habits, they tend to shut down or shy away from you. They’re either not aware of their problems or they just outright deny it. Thus, they would avoid engaging in any conversations about their addictions.
So how can you help them? A solution is a structured approach known as an intervention. Here, conversations are rehearsed, and an intervention specialist is often present to mediate.
Interventions work well for addictions to different substances, like prescription drugs, alcohol, and illicit drugs. They’re even useful for behavioral addictions like gambling and eating.
For an intervention to be successful, you first need to prepare for it.
Interventions must be planned well to succeed
You must not do the intervention yourself. You need to enlist the help of a well-trained intervention specialist to facilitate it. Without that kind of help, you may lose control of the intervention. In turn, your addicted loved ones may become unpleasant or violent towards you.
But with an intervention specialist leading the way, you will know exactly what to do when your loved ones respond in certain ways. The specialist will help you formulate questions, address negative behaviors, and help your addicted loved ones to open up more about their struggles.
You need a team of people to perform the intervention
Interventions should not be done one-on-one. You need a team of others to help you out. Similarly, you need to think carefully about who to put on the intervention team.
Your team should consist of four to six people. They must be very close to your addicted loved ones. The level of trust must be quite high; otherwise, these people may do more harm than good. Examples of people to put on the intervention team include parents, siblings, or best friends.
If your addicted loved ones are not close to their families, though, do not force it. It’s better to have other, more trusted people on the team. The important thing to remember is that your addicted loved ones must like these people a lot. Also, work with the intervention specialist to find out the best people to put on the team.
Make sure the steps of the intervention are well-defined
An intervention is not like a friendly conversation over coffee. It ought to be structured, not a free-for-all. Knowing that, you should carefully word your questions and responses. Come from a position of help, and don’t try to lecture your addicted loved ones at any point during the intervention. The intervention specialist will also help you in this part.
Try to anticipate possible responses too. If your addicted loved ones say certain things or act in certain ways, you can also practice how to deal with them appropriately. If they turn violent, however, you must stop the intervention and schedule another session next time.
Define consequences if they don’t comply with treatment
If you happen to be successful in letting your addicted loved ones open up, the next step is to encourage them to get treatment. The intervention specialist will guide you in coming up with a treatment plan. Ideally, your addicted loved ones would go through with the treatments as planned.
But in case they don’t, you need to set consequences. For example, if they don’t show up to therapy sessions, you would take away their wallets. The consequences must be firm yet not too harsh, and there should be very little room for excuses.
Practice the intervention
It’s a good idea for each member to have a script. That way, they won’t go off-topic as the intervention goes along. Stick to the plan as much as you can. Avoid ad-libbing or dwelling on topics that are on the side.
In the actual session, though, having lots of notes may put the intervention in danger. If your addicted loved ones realize that what you’re doing is rehearsed, they may not behave as expected.
To avoid this, don’t bring a script in the actual intervention. Make it look like a normal, friendly conversation.
The intervention specialist must also be part of every rehearsal. That way, you can be guided better on how the intervention should progress. Their feedback would also help you make the intervention even more effective.
Pick a good time and place to hold the intervention
Choose a place that’s familiar, so your addicted loved ones feel safe being there. It could be their homes, which is the most convenient place for them too. Otherwise, you could go to a park or any other place that’s relaxing.
Also, pick a time when you’re sure that your addicted loved one is sober. Don’t attempt an intervention when you know they’re under the influence. This means, for example, that you shouldn’t schedule the intervention in the evening when they’re about to use drugs.
Each intervention usually lasts 30 to 90 minutes. It can be shorter or longer, though, depending on the situation.
Don’t let your addicted loved ones know of the plan
Your addicted loved ones must see the intervention as nothing but you and them talking. If they’re onto you, and they realize the intervention is rehearsed, they might not even bother talking at all.
Remain calm during the intervention
Remember, your goal is to help your addicted loved ones open up about their struggles and realize that they need help. You are not there to judge, lecture, or antagonize them. For that reason, you need to keep your cool while talking to them.
Even if they say something that makes you upset, you have to remain calm. Otherwise, the intervention could go south.
Encourage your addicted loved ones to get help
If the intervention is successful, your addicted loved ones will want to get treated. The intervention specialist will have laid down a treatment plan too. Encourage them to get treatment as soon as they can.