What to Know About Interventions

Do you have a loved one that suffers from drug or alcohol addiction? Do you want them to go through intervention? If yes, then this article can help you with that as we discuss what it means to have interventions and what you can do to help your loved one. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is an Intervention?

You probably heard about the term intervention but what is it really all about? An intervention is a procedure that involves intervening in the behavior or life of a person with the hopes of changing their behavior as well as the outcome of a person’s situation. Intervention happens when an addicted person’s life is spiraling out of control and they want help. In some cases, an intervention could mean an ultimatum is presented to an addict. An intervention may also involve a professional health worker but in some cases, family members are the ones who do the intervention themselves.

During an intervention, family, friends and professional workers gather together to confront the addict or patient about the consequences of their addiction. They will then ask him or her to accept the treatment that they see fit. 

The Intervention Team

So before an intervention is done, a team must be first formed. There are at least four to six people involved in this group. It should also be people who are important in the life of the patient. This could be their best friend, parents, adult relatives or a member of the same faith. A health care professional is also an important figure in the team. 

Don’t involve people who the addict dislikes. Someone who has mental health issues of their own or an addict themselves should not be included in the group. Don’t involve anyone who does not go through what was agreed on during the initial meeting as this could sabotage the intervention. If the person is someone who has the potential to create issues rather than help during the intervention, best to leave that person out. 

How Does an Intervention Work?

There are seven (7) steps in an intervention. In order to make the intervention successful, all steps must be done accordingly. Here’s what you need to know:

  • First of all, make a plan – one of the first things that a family member or friend does is propose an intervention and form a group that will start the planning. If a qualified health professional is available, consult them first. It could be an addiction professional, a mental health counselor, psychologist or social worker that can help organize the intervention. A health care professional is an important member of the group as interventions usually cause anger, a sense of betrayal or resentment from the addict towards the people who are trying to help. Having a health worker on board can help in case the going gets tough.
  • Gather all the information needed – once the problem is pointed out, group members will then research the treatment program needed as well as the condition of the patient. It is also the group who kick starts a program or arranges it to enroll their loved ones into a specific program to help treat the addiction. 
  • Create the intervention team – this means that the group will personally participate in the intervention needed. They will be the one to set a location, date and the work that needs to be done. It should be a consistent, structured plan and rehearsed message that they should deliver while the non-family member is responsible for helping the team keep the discussion focused on the facts of the problem at hand. He or she should also help in the solutions rather than responding emotionally. Basically, the group should not let their loved one know what they are doing until intervention day comes.
  • Establish boundaries – in case your loved one refuses the treatment, members of the team or group must decide on what the action they will take as the consequence of their refusal. Let’s say, the group can decide on asking the patient to move out of the house but that doesn’t always have to be the consequence. The group must be creative with the outcome and must decide as one.
  • Take note of what to say – describe the incidents where addiction caused the problems and be specific about it. It could be something to do with financial issues or emotional scarring. Discussing this with the addicted loved one while expressing their care as well as their expectation for them to change is important. 
  • Call an intervention meeting – it is important not to tell your loved one that you are inviting him or her to an intervention meeting as you make a call for one. Make sure that the members of the group take turns in expressing their concerns as the group present the treatment option and ask the patient to accept the option on the spot. Each member of the group will then say specific changes they want to do in case the patient does not accept the plan. DO NOT THREATEN the addict with a consequence.
  • Make a follow-up – it is a known fact that an addict can relapse. That is why it is important that the group involved in the intervention does a follow up. This will ensure that your loved one stays in treatment and avoids relapsing from the same problem. This could be as simple as giving them a call or visiting them at a treatment facility. Counseling, seeing a therapist, going to therapy groups or recovery support can always help too. 

In order to have a successful intervention, it should be carefully planned and that plan should be stuck to. If an intervention is poorly planned, the situation can and could worsen the problem. Even worse, your loved one may feel more attacked and may not trust you in the end. 

When The Help Is Refused

Unfortunately, there are cases when the intervention does not work or the patient relapses and goes back to taking drugs and alcohol all over again. In some cases, patients just simply refuse to take the treatment plan. Most of the time, anger and resentment are the immediate reactions of the patient towards the people who are trying to help them, so it is important that you prepare yourself emotionally for such reactions. In case they don’t follow through the treatment, prepare yourself to follow through the changes and consequences that you have laid out. It is best to remove yourself from a destructive situation rather than staying and watch the abuse spiral down. 

Intervention is a good way to show that you care for your loved ones but in reality, this isn’t always accepted. If you want to really help and if all interventions did not go as planned, calling in the professionals to do the intervention themselves is the last resort. It may be tough love but it will save their life.