Regardless of how much knowledge you have about interventions, the goal of one of these meetings is to get an addict to seek professional help. Because of your exposure to various media, you might have seen or heard of a variety of intervention techniques; some that you agree with, and others you do not. To understand better what is actually involved in an intervention, learn what an intervention is, what a typical plan of action is for these meetings and be sure to avoid the behaviors that can undermine these important meetings.
What Is an Intervention?
The Association of Intervention Specialists is a network of professional interventionists across the US and abroad. Their post, What is an Intervention?, provides an overview of interventions.
An intervention is a meeting(s) where family, friends and colleagues gather with the addict to discuss her addiction to encourage her to seek help. Since the goal of this meeting is treatment, a simple, candid discussion between the addict and a concerned person might lead to that goal. However, in most cases, interventions are a bit more complex. Many people believe that the best way to succeed with an intervention is to include a trained interventionist who can oversee the planning stages, serve as a moderator at the meeting(s), ensure that communications are clear and mitigate any emotional outbursts. You need to plan and take care of many aspects of an intervention before, during and after the meetings, but a professional can help you accomplish this task.
Another benefit of working with a professional interventionist is that he can describe the variety of intervention models that are available, which means the group of people in the intervention team can decide which model they believe will work best for their particular loved one.
The Intervention Process
An intervention is similar to other meetings in that it requires planning and careful execution of that plan. The Mayo Clinic post, Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction, describes the following steps that are often involved in an intervention:
- Gather an intervention team – This team consists of people who are invested in the addict’s life and people to whom the addict would listen
- Create a plan – Professional interventionists are useful at this stage, because they can ensure that your plan is helpful. However, if you choose to avoid that route, then it is still wise to consult a qualified professional counselor, addiction specialist, psychologist, mental health counselor or social worker to get as much information as possible to ensure that your plan achieves the desired results.
- Gather information – It is important that the intervention team learns as much as possible about the addict’s problem, addiction and treatment options. Each member of the team may be assigned a different piece of information to research and present at a team meeting, which means all members of the team can be on the same page. In fact, the intervention team may go as far as to arrange for the loved one to enroll in a specific program after the intervention ends.
- Intervention team rehearsals – The members of the intervention team set a date and location for the meeting, and they work together to present a consistent, rehearsed message with a structured plan.
- Have clear and specific notes on what to say – The members of the team must describe specific incidents wherein the addiction caused problems. Speaking in vague terms dilutes the messages you are trying to convey, so be clear.
- Define specific consequences – If the addict refuses to attend treatment, then each person on the team must decide what action she will take. Examples include asking your loved one to move out or taking away contact with children.
- Hold the intervention meeting – During the meeting, each member of the team expresses his clear concerns and gives precise examples. The team then offers the treatment option and the addict is asked to accept that option on the spot. If the addict does not agree to treatment, then each team member will then specify the consequences for avoiding help.
If the meeting succeeds, then the addict will seek treatment. The intervention team will want to follow up to ensure that they provide the necessary support to the addict while she is in and out of treatment. This help will discourage relapse.
What to Avoid in an Intervention
Conducting a successful intervention can be quite challenging. The post, Interventions for Substance Abuse: 5 Things to Avoid, identifies the following behaviors that can impede an intervention and even actually cause it to fail:
- Being judgmental
- Speaking with anger
- Trying to shame or embarrass the addict
- Involving anyone who condones or participates in an addict’s substance abuse
- Holding an intervention when a loved one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
When planning an intervention, keep this list at the forefront of your mind to ensure that you do not set yourself up to fail.
Learn More About Interventions
Interventions help addicts seek the treatment they need to get and stay clean. However, conducting an effective intervention is quite challenging. It makes sense to learn as much as you can before you engage in an intervention, which is where we can help. Please call our toll-free helpline now, as our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and to provide the resources you need to initiate recovery.