If you have a loved one who is in denial about the severity of his drug or alcohol abuse or addiction or who is ambivalent about it, you’ve probably tried without success to talk to him about getting help. Addiction affects brain function, thought and behavior, and it can be difficult for someone with an addiction to see how his drug abuse is affecting both him and the people who love him. That’s where an intervention can help.
An intervention is a carefully planned process that begins with educating concerned family members and friends about addiction and ends with a meeting between the concerned individuals and the person with the addiction. During the meeting, each person on the intervention team explains to the loved one how the addiction has personally affected them, and the loved one is offered the opportunity to enter treatment right then and there.
Professional Intervention or DIY?
When conducted without the help of a professional interventionist, addiction counselor or other mental health professional, an intervention has a high risk of failure. The most important thing during an intervention is to keep the meeting positive and productive, and this can be very difficult when emotions are running high and resentment, fear and anger surface.
A professional will help defuse conflict and ensure the meeting stays on track. Interventions that are planned and executed with the help of a professional enjoy a 90 percent success rate.
Education is Paramount
Before you can help your addicted loved one, it’s essential that you fully understand the mechanics of addiction and how the substance of abuse affects your loved one’s thoughts and behaviors. Without this fundamental knowledge, trying to talk to your loved one about getting help will likely be ineffective at best. Before the intervention meeting is planned, your interventionist will provide you with the information you need in order to help you better get through to your loved one.
Intervention Isn’t for Everyone
In some cases, an intervention can backfire and cause more problems than it solves. In situations where the family is highly dysfunctional or the person with the addiction has a history of serious mental illness, violence or suicidal tendencies, a standard intervention isn’t typically recommended. A professional interventionist or other mental health professional can help you determine whether an intervention is right for you. If it’s not, you’ll be offered other options for helping your loved one get the help he needs.
Tips for a Productive Intervention
Mayo Clinic offers a number of essential tips for holding an intervention:
- Schedule the intervention meeting for a time when your loved one isn’t likely to be under the influence.
- Choose around six people to be on the intervention team, and make sure they’re all people whom your loved one likes and respects.
- Hold a rehearsal before the intervention meeting so that everyone involved will know what to expect and can practice what they’re planning to say to your loved one.
- Prepare emotionally ahead of time so that you’re more likely to stay supportive and positive rather than angry or resentful.
- Plan ahead for excuses or accusations your loved one might make, and decide ahead of time how you will calmly respond to him.
- Require an immediate decision regarding treatment. Allowing your loved one to think about it increases the chances that he’ll begin to avoid you, go on a harmful binge, or continue to deny the problem.
Regardless of the outcome of the intervention, continue to learn all you can about addiction and join a support group. Both are crucial for best supporting your loved one in treatment and recovery or helping to convince him later on that he needs help. A support group like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon will offer a sympathetic ear, numerous resources, and a great deal of helpful coping tips.
A high level of support for you and other loved ones will also help to foster continued hope for your loved one’s eventual recovery, and hope, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the very foundation of recovery.