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planning an intervention

Planning a Successful Intervention: What You Should Know

If someone you care about has been struggling with substance misuse issues, you may have resolved that you won’t let their destructive behavior tear your family apart any longer. For friends and family who have reached a breaking point, an intervention is often an ideal opportunity to express your concerns to your addicted loved one and help them understand how their actions are hurting everyone around them. 

Interventions can be valuable if your addicted loved one is in deep denial about the extent of their problems. If you are considering organizing an intervention for someone you care about, here are some things you should consider.

You Need a Goal in Sight

Many families perform interventions that lack a clear goal. They assume pointing out the problem will be sufficient to persuade their loved one to take the initiative on their own. The objective of an intervention is twofold: to help the person admit they have a problem they can’t solve on their own, then convince them to agree to seek treatment. Merely overcoming objections is not enough. 

If someone has reached a point where an intervention is necessary, they also will need to enter a treatment facility as soon as possible after the meeting. That means you should already have researched and coordinated with a rehab center that can be ready to accept that person as a client right away. 

Be Selective About Who Participates

Addicts’ behavior can do a tremendous amount of damage to their relationships. Family members who feel irreparably hurt may wish to be part of your intervention for all the wrong reasons. Many interventions go off the rails when people mistake them as an opportunity to heap guilt, shame and embarrassment upon the addict, rather than using their time constructively and non-judgmentally. Be sure to only invite people who are willing to set aside anger or hostility and speak from a place of genuine love and respect.

Choose Your Timing Wisely

Timing is a crucial factor in the success of your intervention. For example, you may be reluctant to host an intervention on the heels of a life-changing event such as a DUI arrest because you don’t want to “pile on” and make things seem worse. However, if you orchestrate your meeting carefully, you can take the opportunity to help the addict see the light while they are still wrestling with the legal and ethical implications of what has just happened.

You should also wait to host your intervention until the subject of the meeting is sober. That might require you to hold the meeting early in the day, before the addict has had time to start using or drinking. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol can behave unpredictably, and may be less receptive to hearing you out. 

Define the Consequences

Part of intervention planning also means preparing for the possibility that your loved one will not agree to enter treatment. If that happens, it does not mean you have failed. However, it does indicate that you and the other intervention participants will need to change your behavior. 

For example, you may have unintentionally allowed the addiction to flourish by paying the addict’s bills or covering for their absences from work. Firmly and clearly state that you will no longer be doing those things. Don’t phrase this as a threat, but rather a factual statement about the new reality. The point is not to be harsh or cruel, but rather to drive home the point that your enabling behavior is unsustainable.

Seek Professional Intervention Planning

At its heart, an intervention is a way to express your unconditional love and support for someone. Keep this thought in the forefront of your intervention planning and execution.

If managing all the different social and emotional dynamics of an intervention seems overwhelming to you, and you are worried about your ability to keep the conversation moving forward, you may benefit from the services of a professional interventionist. At Whitman Recovery Service, our team has specific training in how to orchestrate all the details of a successful intervention, and can help you get your loved one the lifesaving help they need. Contact us to learn more about our methods and why they work.



Whitman Recovery Service is a Telehealth provider for addiction and mental health guidance. Please call (210) 291-0278
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