How to Stage an Intervention

Drug addiction and alcoholism can destroy the lives of those afflicted. However, what about loved ones, family and friends who are close to the person who is suffering? The heartbreak caused by substance use disorders can bleed throughout relationships.

The feelings of hopelessness can often be more intense for those watching a loved one devastate their life with drugs and alcohol. We appreciate not only the torment of struggling to stay clean and sober but also the anguish of helplessly watching.

However, you’re not entirely helpless. There is hope. That hope can be found through treatment programs, but how do you convince someone they need help? One method is to stage an intervention.

What Is an Intervention?

Extremely rare are those who are strong enough to overcome a substance use disorder without help. One roadblock is that the individual may not even feel that there is a problem. Nevertheless, when addicts and alcoholics do admit they have issues, they insist they are not hurting anyone else.

You, as a friend or family member of an addict or alcoholic, know all too well how far from the truth this is. So, how can you voice your feelings? You may have heard about holding an intervention, but what is an intervention?

The simplest explanation of an intervention for substance use disorder is that it is a meeting. It is an organized conversation where you, as a concerned outsider, reveal your heartfelt concern.

An intervention begins by hopefully triggering awareness. If properly orchestrated, this awareness can lead to a motivated effort to take action. Many addicts and alcoholics either don’t believe there is a problem or that the problem is no one’s business but their own.

How do you properly present your feelings so they might produce a turning point in your loved one’s life? Let’s talk about how to stage your intervention.

How Do You Stage an Intervention?

There are many problems caused by addiction that can ruin friendships and destroy families. Interventions work across a spectrum of these types of disorders. We’re going to help you orchestrate an intervention for alcoholism or abuse of prescription or street drugs.

One common thread among these substance use disorders is that the ultimate consequence could be death. They are serious. We cannot stress how vital it is to plan an intervention as soon as you realize someone you love may have a problem.

Don’t just expect them to wake up one day and decide to turn around their life. It is rare that this happens. Even when presented with the truth, denial is a common tool used by addicts and alcoholics to deflect blame.

Different Circumstances Require Different Strategies

Just like the multitude of drugs and types of alcoholic beverages there are on store shelves, there are different circumstances for each individual intervention. Alcoholics and addicts have varying personalities.

Someone who is abusing painkillers or taking illegal street drugs must already realize that they are doing something illegal and dishonest. Those who only drink alcohol can present a unique challenge.

Underage drinkers may insist that everyone else is doing it. If they are of age, alcohol is legal. Many times, alcoholics are the ones who insist they are hurting no one but themselves.

You must be prepared for this defense. Different levels of intensity also factor into your intervention strategy. Assess each person and situation uniquely. Be honest when the circumstances may be too difficult for you to handle.

A Symptom of Other Issues

The next important thing to keep in mind is that virtually every form of a substance use disorder, regardless of the substance, is rooted in deeper emotional issues. Be mindful that there could be some very serious mental health concerns when you’re formulating a strategy for an intervention. It may be wise to seek professional guidance.

Setting up an Intervention

Before you take on the important role as leader of an intervention, you should ask yourself if you are the right person. Holding a failed intervention can produce unforeseen consequences for everyone involved. Here are three attributes you should have to head an intervention.

  • Are you emotionally and mentally strong enough to express your feelings openly and effectively in a manner that will not infuriate your loved one?
  • Are you connected to other friends and family sufficiently to put together a strong group of reliable people to be part of the intervention?
  • Are you adequately invested in this person’s life enough to be truly motivated to follow through with an intervention regardless of the final results?

The emotional and mental stress of heading an intervention can be tremendous. To ensure the best chance of a successful outcome, ask yourself these questions. Be sure to answer them honestly.

The Location

This may seem like an inconsequential decision to make. Why would it matter where you hold the intervention? It can matter a lot. You want to select a place that makes the person you’re hoping to help feel comfortable and at ease.

The whole idea is to reduce uncomfortable feelings as much as possible. When the person is in a comfortable environment such as their own home, this often helps eliminate the negative feelings of being placed under a spotlight.

Avoid holding an intervention in a place that is not private and comfortable. Even if the first attempt isn’t successful, the right environment can plant a memorable picture in the person’s mind as opposed to fueling an unhealthy resentment.

The Plan

Your plan must have a priority focus. That focus is to kindly and lovingly let your friend or family member know they are breaking your heart with their drug or alcohol problem. You love them, and you want them to get help.

To make sure that you do not get diverted from this primary purpose, make sure your intervention is well-planned. Here’s a step-by-step strategy to help you formulate an intervention plan.

Contact people who are emotionally close to the person. Speak to each of these people individually. Make perfectly certain they are on board with your goal. Discuss mutual concerns you may each have about the problem you’re trying to solve.

Be mindful of the idea that some friends and family members may suffer from their own afflictions. Consider strongly if these types of persons will be an asset to the success of your intervention or potentially create a detrimental effect.

It helps to include people such as former teachers or coaches who the substance abuser may hold a great deal of respect for. Every person in your intervention group can play a role. Choose these people with the utmost care.

Make sure everyone in your intervention group can provide at least some type of contribution. Keep the group size small. You do not want to overwhelm your loved one with a big crowd of people. Pick quality people with a vested interest in your loved one.

Setting the stage for an intervention is somewhat like rehearsing a play. While no one will be acting, knowing ahead of time who will speak and when can be instrumental in keeping your intervention on course and avoiding unhelpful diversions.

There may not be a script for an intervention, but each person should carefully select the words and mannerisms they choose to present their concerns. This will be especially important for you as the head of the intervention.

For the same reason, you do not want to use an imposing location. You also want to avoid using accusatory words or imposing mandates. Remember, an addict or an alcoholic is not a bad person. They are people with an illness who need help to get well.

If you maintain this mindset throughout the intervention, it will go a long way toward helping you avoid confrontation. Each person should have mentally prepared their dialogue ahead of time.

Many times, having a show of support will launch the user into taking action. The last thing you want to do is have an unrehearsed format. If you chase your loved one away, it can be even more challenging, maybe even impossible, to get them back for a second meeting.

There doesn’t need to be a scripted order, but making sure people talk in turns is encouraged. One key thing to remember is for everyone to listen. If you can get your loved one to open up, you will have overcome a huge hurdle.

Instead of taking turns making demanding speeches, take turns asking concerned questions of the user. Let them answer on their own and do not disrespect their answers even if you know them to be untruthful.

You’re trying to reach one important first goal. Let your loved one know that everyone at the intervention loves them. You all want the best for them, but you’re each sad about what they are doing to their lives.

Preparing what everyone will say and when they will speak can be helpful. However, in lieu of scripted lines, stress to everyone involved to avoid ultimatums. Ask questions and be a sympathetic listener. Sometimes, all your loved one needs is someone to listen.

Involve a Professional

Prior to holding an intervention, it is wise to consult with a substance use disorder professional. An addiction specialist is especially well-versed in how to coordinate a drug or alcohol intervention.

There are also social workers and substance use disorder counselors who can provide tremendous insight into how to stage an intervention properly. While it may not be as common in an initial intervention, psychologists and psychiatrists can be helpful in unique situations.

Using an intervention specialist is not essential, but consulting one is advised. Nevertheless, there are serious variables that make bringing a professional on board more imperative.

When your loved one has overdosed or threatened to take his or her life, it is time for a professional. Beyond any hint of suicidal tendencies, which is an immediate red flag to seek professional intervention assistance, there are other factors to consider.

If your loved one has a proclivity to being violent or suffers from mental illness, it is best to include an intervention specialist. While an intervention with this level of seriousness can be held at the interventionist’s office, they do appreciate the importance of a comfortable and relaxed environment.

Frequently, the intervention specialists will help you coordinate all the details of the intervention but still allow you to be the primary spokesperson and in the location you feel best suits the temperament of your loved one.

The same primary purpose follows all types of substance use disorder interventions. You want your loved one to know that your heart breaks watching them destroy themselves. You want to express your concern while hearing theirs. Most of all, you want them to seek help.

Propose a Solution

As part of your preparations to stage an intervention, you need to do more than just focus on the problem. While the addiction, and the subsequent behavior resulting from it, is the primary reason, it is imperative you present some type of solution.

An important part of any recovery solution for helping someone with a substance use disorder is treatment. If you have wisely included an intervention specialist in your intervention preparations, they can explain how treatment works.

You and your loved one may have questions about what works best, inpatient or outpatient treatment. Frequently, inpatient residential treatment can help establish a stronger foundation for sustained recovery.

Residential treatment solutions such as the NFA Behavioral Health in  New Hampshire, can be presented during your intervention. At the New Freedom Academy, we provide dozens of helpful resources on our website, resources for addicts and alcoholics looking for help as well as those for loved ones hoping to help them find a solution.

At NFA, we use a 12-step recovery model as our foundation. We have a caring and trained professional staff that can help address various emotional issues.

Invariably, using clinical psychotherapeutic therapies can unearth the core symptoms that are at the root of a substance use disorder. Our counselors work one-on-one with each individual, and there are also opportunities to share in groups.

Our medical staff is on-site 24/7. The treatment model infuses many holistic theories into the recovery process. NFA Behavioral Health offers a serene and peaceful environment.

Blended with a knowledgeable and caring staff, it gives you a solution to propose as part of your intervention. Make sure you have some solution prepared. Browbeating your loved one without one is not a wise strategy.

Interventions can bring a substance use disorder out into the open. When properly staged, interventions provide loved ones with a comfortable platform to voice their heartfelt concern. The alcoholic or addict can be helped to appreciate that they are not only hurting themselves but those they love as well.

Sometimes, this single revelation can be enough to help someone take that vital step to ask for help. Drugs and alcohol are subtle foes that have beaten down the strongest. Over 700,000 people have overdosed since 2000. Entangled in the web of addiction can be a lonely and depressing place. An intervention can be a light of hope.

Waiting for the perfect moment to hold an intervention may never happen. If you experience any apprehension about your ability to coordinate an intervention, ask for help. There are trained professionals who specialize in interventions. Whatever you do, do not put it off. Waiting for tomorrow might be too late.

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