When you first call the National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 for guidance on intervention, you will speak to a trained addiction specialist who will help assess the situation. The specialist will ask you pointed questions about what you know about the drugs and alcohol you believe your friend or family member uses. You will be asked to describe various behaviors if you are uncertain which substances are involved. This initial assessment is similar to questions asked by a triage nurse in an emergency room. Answers that you provide will help assess the suspected level of addiction.
If you believe that an overdose or other medical emergency is imminent, you should call 911. If it is not an emergency but you are concerned about your loved one’s alcohol or drug abuse, you will most likely be referred to intervention professionals.
Watching someone you care about struggle with drugs or alcohol is a painful time. Families and friendships can be torn apart if it is allowed to continue. Your loved one could even die. You know the time has come for your loved one to get help, but you wonder where to begin. This is where a professional may help you stage an intervention.
What Is an Intervention?
An intervention is an act of confronting someone you care about with their addictive behavior and the damage that it is doing to their life. The ultimate goal of intervention is convincing that person to change their behavior and save their life. The most successful interventions involve a group of their family and friends confronting the addiction as a group.
General Overview of an Intervention Event
During the intervention event, a group of family and friends congregate together to confront the addicted individual about the dangers of their drug or alcohol abuse. They encourage the person to seek help in dealing with their addiction from medical professionals, preferably in a full-time substance abuse rehab setting. The intervention group traditionally includes the person’s closest friends and family members and occasionally coworkers.
At the event, each member of the group will confront the addicted individual with what their substance abuse is doing to their relationship with the individual and what the consequences will be if their substance abuse continues. The consequences need to be drastic, and each person needs to be committed to keeping to this promise should the person fail to go to rehab.
Why Interventions Work
Many times, an addicted individual is unaware of their level of substance dependency even when it is obvious to everyone around them. They can seem blind to how their addictive behaviors negatively impact everyone around them. Interventions are largely successful because they catch the addicted individual off-guard. This leaves the person somewhat vulnerable and appeals to the love they have for those whose lives their addiction is affecting.
Preparing for an Intervention
For interventions to work, there needs to be sufficient planning and preparation. The group should select a professional interventionist to coordinate the event and lead the session. The following covers the steps leading up to the intervention event itself.
Identifying the Need for Intervention
Now that we have given you a general introduction to the concept of an intervention, we need to break down the mechanics of it. It starts with identifying those who need the drastic action of an intervention to bring them out of denial and get them into a treatment program.
There are specific behaviors associated with drug or alcohol addiction. Missed work and family events, unpredictable behaviors, changes in behavior, changes in spending habits, more distance from those they care about and a new set of questionable friends can be signs of addiction.
Form a Planning Committee
Your planning committee should include a small core group of friends and family members most affected by the addicted individual’s behavior. Bringing in a professional interventionist is highly recommended. This group should not include anyone who is also currently in the grips of addiction. It is important that you do not do this alone. A planning committee is your best chance of staging a successful intervention.
Do Your Homework
Find out everything you can about the substances you believe your loved one is addicted to. This includes the actual drug and its effects, the manner in which it is used and the rehab process specific to their drug of choice. Every substance is different, and the rehab process, while similar in many ways, will have specific challenges related to the drug.
Make a Plan
Start making a plan as to the day and time the intervention will take place. Carefully choose who should be involved in the intervention itself. Map out how the process will work and what everyone should say to the addicted individual. This plan will be your road map to a successful intervention.
Schedule a Pre-Intervention Meeting
A pre-intervention meeting will include the intervention specialist and everyone involved in the intervention event itself. At the meeting, the interventionist will guide you on how to write your impact statements and what you should say. The interventionist will prepare the group on what to expect during the intervention event and facts that you will want to focus on as you prepare your impact statements and consequences.
Write Impact Statements
Everyone involved in the intervention will need to write an impact statement. The statement should include the behaviors you have noticed and how those behaviors are affecting your relationship with your loved one. It should include a plea for the addicted individual to get help. These statements should be very personal and highly detailed. Write down what you are feeling about the addiction, your fears of what will happen if the addiction continues and a plea for your loved one to get help.
Part of your impact statement needs to be boundaries that you set and the consequences that your loved one will experience should they fail to seek treatment. The consequences should be drastic, such as cutting off your relationship with them. You need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario that will lead you to have to implement these consequences.
You will want to do a run-through of the intervention prior to the event itself. During this meeting, you will read your impact statements aloud and the consequences you are proposing. Emotions run very high during an intervention, so doing a rehearsal run will help you hold firm to your desire to get the person help. It also assists you in writing your impact statement as others in the group might remember something that you will want to include.
Everyone who participates in the intervention should be willing to offer help to the addicted individual in their quest for sobriety. You will want to make sure that your loved one knows the good that will come from sobriety and what they will gain back from the people who care most about them. The group can also decide which rehab center would be right for the addicted individual should they agree to go following the intervention.
Managing Your Expectations
When you see interventions on TV, the addicted individual almost inevitably goes to rehab, and the ending is mostly a happy one. However, TV is not always reality. Your loved one may not agree to go into rehab and accept the help being offered. You need to be prepared for the best and the worst of scenarios.
Follow Up and Follow Through
After the intervention, check in with everyone who was involved. If the intervention went badly, is everyone keeping their promises regarding consequences? Remember that when there are no consequences, those who help the addicted individual are enabling them to continue in their harmful behavior. Following up with each other provides an after-event support system for all of you.
A Final Word About Intervention
Should your loved one accept the help being offered, it is important that they enter treatment as soon after the intervention as possible while the emotions from the event are still running high. The sooner they enter treatment, the more likely it is that treatment will be effective. While they are in treatment, make sure that you maintain contact with them so that they know they have your continuing support.
Treatment is an emotional experience. Your loved one will be addressing their behaviors and how much they have hurt those around them. It is a time of change for them as they adjust to life without substance abuse. They will come away from treatment with a new focus and a new reality. Some of the changes they need to make include adjustments to all of their relationships. As they adjust to their sobriety, stay in contact but do not try to overwhelm them.
Some Realities About Sobriety
In a perfect world, treatment will take hold, and your loved one will take steps to remain in recovery for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many people. There will be times where they might slip and fall back into their addiction and destructive ways. For some, it takes more than one stint in treatment for recovery to take hold. If you do see signs that your loved one is using again after a time of sobriety, do not immediately go to consequences outlined during the intervention.
Since there has already been one intervention, there is a chance that offering support on a one-on-one basis will be enough to convince a recovering addict to go back into treatment and start working their program again. However, just as you have to prepare for both the worst and best outcomes for intervention, you will also need to be prepared for the fact that if they are using again, they may have unrealistically decided that sobriety was not worth it, and they prefer to go back to their old ways. If gentle conversation is not effective, you can put your consequences proposed during the intervention into action.
When you recognize that someone you love is in the throes of alcoholism or substance abuse, you want and need help for this person. Whether they are initially willing to get help or not, treatment is and always will be their best option. Their path to recovery will not be an easy one, and getting the help they need is not always as simple as dropping them off at rehab. They need to realize that they need to make changes in their life. While you can help them recognize that they need help, you cannot always make them get it. If it is ultimately not their decision, it is less likely that treatment can be effective.
Intervention is always a good first step. If you know someone who needs help, you can call The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 for the support you need to help your loved one get into recovery.