How to stage an intervention
Having a family member with addiction can put a great deal of strain on your relationship, causing worry, stress and anxiety. If this is the case for you, you might wonder what steps to take to get your loved one the help they desperately need. Staging an intervention is one step that could help, offering you the chance to voice your concerns and hopefully acting as a springboard to recovery for your family member.
What is an intervention?
An intervention is a planned and structured conversation that aims to confront a person’s addiction, encourage them to seek help and offer support in their recovery. While this can be an emotional and challenging experience, it can also be a catalyst for positive change.
An intervention typically involves a small group of family or friends who come together to talk to a loved one about their addiction. The intervention should always come from a place of compassion, and great care should be taken to avoid heated arguments, judgement or shame.
Types of interventions
There are several types of interventions, and the one you conduct will depend on the circumstances and needs of your family member.
In a simple intervention, the person with addiction is approached by one close friend or family member in a neutral environment. The goal is to create a non-threatening space where you can openly discuss concerns and persuade the individual to get help for their addiction.
The classic intervention involves a group meeting with close friends and family members. Usually, the meeting is planned ahead of time, with responses thought out and goals outlined. Each group member will take turns saying how the addiction has impacted them.
A crisis intervention occurs as an immediate reaction to a potentially threatening or dangerous situation. Those present at the time of the incident may intervene and attempt to get the addicted person into a treatment programme.
When and where should I stage an intervention?
Staging an intervention requires careful consideration and planning. The timing and location of the meeting are both important factors to consider. If you are becoming increasingly fearful of your loved one’s behaviour, or if their behaviour is becoming more dangerous, an intervention is a sensible step to take.
Preferably, your loved one should not be under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the intervention. You should choose a time when they are calm and have time to listen to and absorb your concerns.
The location is equally as important when staging an intervention. Holding a meeting in a busy, public place is not advised – this could cause embarrassment to your family member and distractions could get in the way. Instead, pick a private location where your relative will feel comfortable – for example, in a home environment.
Staging an intervention
If you have decided to stage an intervention, there are some steps you should follow to boost your chance of success. These steps include:
- Educate yourself on addiction and treatment: Researching addiction will give you a deeper understanding of what your family member is going through. It would also help to understand what is involved in treatment and rehab.
- Decide who will be present at the intervention: Consider those closest to the individual and avoid having confrontational or argumentative people at the intervention.
- Plan your approach: Each person should write notes on what they would like to say, and you should all decide on consequences and boundaries if your family member does not agree to treatment; for example, they may have to move out of the family home.
- Practice beforehand: Your group should practise different scenarios before the intervention takes place. This ensures that you will be able to respond calmly to whatever may arise during the intervention.
- Stage the intervention: Arrange a time to meet your loved one (without revealing an intervention will take place), take turns in addressing your issues and offer your support.
- Follow up: Make sure that your loved one goes through with treatment after the intervention has taken place. If they have refused to get help, it is important to follow through with the consequences outlined during the meeting.
A poorly executed intervention can have the opposite effect than what is intended, often pushing the person further away, exacerbating their addiction and causing tension in relationships. Therefore, it is vital that you take your time to plan ahead and carefully consider every aspect of the meeting.
The dos and don’ts of an intervention
There are some dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind when navigating the highly emotional and sensitive process of an intervention.
- Approach the intervention with compassion and empathy, remembering that addiction is a complex condition.
- Listen actively to what your relative has to say and allow them to express their emotions.
- Offer specific examples of how their addiction has affected you personally.
- Establish clear boundaries and stick to them.
- Approach the intervention with anger, blame or criticism, as this could cause your family member to become defensive and less receptive to the conversation.
- Enable your loved one’s addiction by providing financial support or excuses for their behaviour.
- Set boundaries or consequences you are unprepared to follow through with.
- Ignore the emotional impact of an intervention on both you and your relative – talk to a professional if you need to.
- Give up on your loved one – if the intervention was not successful, let them know you will be there for them when they do decide to get help.
What happens if my loved one refuses to get help?
The most difficult thing to deal with when it comes to interventions is refusal from your loved one. They may struggle to accept that there is a problem, deny any need for treatment and decline your offers of help. Of course, you will likely feel upset and defeated if this happens to you, but it is important to remember that their refusal does not mean you have failed.
Staging an intervention, whether it ends up with rehab or not, still opens up a line of communication between you and your loved one. It gives you the opportunity to express your feelings and concerns, set healthy boundaries and let your relative know you care. While they might not be ready to get help right now, you have planted a seed that will hopefully grow into a willingness to recover.
You cannot control the actions of others, but you can control your response to difficult circumstances. Offering love and support to your family member, as well as prioritising your own well-being, is the best thing you can do in these situations.
The importance of interventions
Interventions can be a powerful tool to help break through the denial of addiction and kick-start your loved one’s recovery. By staging an intervention the right way, you and your loved one can benefit from the following:
- The outcome of addiction treatment
- Strengthened relationships between family members
- More effective communication
- A support system of caring individuals
- Reduction in the harm caused by addiction
If you are concerned about a loved one’s addiction and want to help them get on the path to recovery by staging an intervention, our Recovery Lighthouse team is here to support you. With our help, your loved one can overcome the temptations of addiction and begin their journey to recovery.