intervention hug

5 Essential Considerations When Planning an Intervention

It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one struggle with a cycle of substance abuse. Time after time, you’ve heard them promise to quit drinking or using drugs, only to resume their self-destructive behavior when they have a stressful day at work, or when their cravings and withdrawal symptoms become unbearable. Fortunately, you do have an option to help your addicted loved one: an intervention. Here are five things to keep in mind to help things go right.

1. Understand Addicts Can’t “Just Say No”

The first thing to keep in mind about addiction is that nobody starts drinking or taking drugs with a goal of getting hooked and losing their health and well-being to substance abuse. You might be frustrated and wondering why your friend or family member keeps returning to drinking or using, despite the obvious adverse effects. 

The reality is that these addictive substances alter brain chemistry. Over long-term use, it becomes nearly impossible for people who are caught up in the cycle of substance abuse to walk away on their own, no matter how much willpower they have. Because of this, you should always approach your intervention with compassion.

2. Interventions Require Planning

Unlike the dramatic depictions of interventions you may have seen on TV, spur-of-the-moment interventions usually do not succeed. If you try to confront your loved one on a whim because you’ve reached your breaking point, you run the risk of the addicted person reacting with denial or hostility. Instead, you should carefully rehearse every detail of the intervention, including:

  • Who will take part
  • What each person will say
  • What time people will arrive (Tip: Choose a time when the addict is sober.)
  • Where you will hold the intervention
  • What happens next if the subject of the meeting agrees to get help
  • What you will do if the subject of the meeting rejects help

3. Research Treatment Centers

If the goal of your intervention is to get your loved one to admit they have a problem they can’t solve on their own, it stands to reason that you should have a clear idea of why and how they can get the help they need. To that end, make sure you have done your homework on treatment facilities, and have a program lined up and ready to admit your family member or friend. 

4. Line up Participants

A substance misuse intervention is not a casual house party, where people stay and chat for a few minutes and then wander away. Instead, there is only one purpose of this meeting: to enact lasting change. To this end, invite the people who are most invested and involved in the addict’s life to participate. Make sure everyone you invite is comfortable speaking up and providing concrete examples of how the addict’s behavior has affected them. You should also ensure all your participants have prepared their remarks from a position of love and support, rather than trying to accuse or shame the person into getting help.

5. Get Professional Help

If the serious nature of planning an addiction intervention is overwhelming you, and you wish you didn’t have to shoulder so much of this burden on your own, you can hire a professional interventionist to help guide you through the process. At Whitman Recovery Service, we have more than 30 years of experience planning and leading interventions in all 50 U.S. states. We can help ensure your meeting stays focused and helps you get the treatment you need for the person you care about most. Reach out to us today to inquire about planning an intervention.