Asana Recovery

When and How to Plan an Intervention

a family during an interventionWatching your loved one struggle with drugs or alcohol can be extremely difficult. Often, there’s nothing you can do but talk to them, hope they make better choices, and consistently point them in the direction of therapy and counseling. With 40.3 million Americans addicted to drugs or alcohol, that’s a daily experience for 1 in 10 Americans, whose close relatives and loved ones are addicted. You might feel powerless, unable to help, and out of control. And, while that’s mostly true, people with addictions have to make their own decisions, you can choose to stage an intervention.

Here, it’s important that you take the time to plan your intervention, that you get it right the first time, and that you wait till the right moment.

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a point in time when you gather people that someone cares about and you confront them with their addiction and what they are doing to their life. In most cases, you use a series of emotional messages, concern about wellbeing, and direct confrontation about how much has changed to get that person to accept that they need help.

Normally this means:

  • Choosing a private and safe location
  • Making sure you have time
  • Preparing messages and ensuring that everyone aligns on what they want to say and what the outcome should be
  • Preparing a rehab center that your loved one can go to immediately

Here, it’s important that an intervention is a tactic of last resort. Interventions are confrontational, emotionally traumatic, and painful. They require having everyone you love stand up and say “You are hurting yourself, let’s fix this”. If you haven’t had discussions, asked your loved one to go to treatment, talked to your loved one about getting care, etc., the time is not right for an intervention. You should only stage an intervention when all of those avenues of contact have been rebuffed and ignored.

Research Treatment Options

The first and most important part of staging an intervention is that if you stage one, you should have a rehab picked out to send your loved one and immediately. That’s important to set up well in advance because otherwise, wait lists can be months long. By that time, your loved one could have changed their mind.

Therefore, it’s important to check insurance, to talk to consultants, and to ensure that someone can take your loved one as quickly as possible. Some rehab centers will help you plan interventions, so that when your loved one agrees to treatment, they can leave immediately afterwards or within 24 hours.

In other cases, you can ensure that your rehab center has a short waitlist, or that you’re already on the waitlist and up for potential admission before staging the intervention.

Get Your Questions Answered

Pick a Good Time

woman booking an appointment for her interventionIt’s important to pick a time where everyone has sufficient time, you can focus on the intervention, and your loved one can as well. Here, you want to ensure that no one has anywhere to be, and no one has obligations afterwards. Your loved one isn’t going to be very open to a long and heartfelt discussion if they have to pack up and go to work or pick up kids. Likewise, your message will lose impact if you have to leave afterwards. Make sure everyone has a clear schedule and that you can run the intervention late if necessary.

Pick a Good Place

It’s also important to pick a quiet and private place to stage the intervention. It might be easy to find a reason to invite your loved one to a restaurant, but that won’t be a safe place to share emotions. And, interventions can and should be very emotional. Instead, you’ll want to pick a place in their home if you can. If not, having them to a space that is private and large enough for everyone is a better plan. Someone’s living room, a bedroom, etc., will be the best options.

Invite the Right People

It’s important to bring the right people to an intervention. That means the people who matter in that person’s life now and in the past. Here, it’s a mistake to only bring family members, especially if they aren’t that close. Bringing people your loved one is actually close with will greatly benefit the outcome of your intervention. Sometimes that will mean relatively new friends, sometimes that will mean people who are also using. Sometimes it will also mean leaving out people who seem like they should be there (like parents or a spouse) if the relationship is bad. It’s important to evaluate who matters and to get everyone involved to weigh in on who else should be there so no one is left out.

The idea is that you have meaningful people in the room.

Align Your Messages

It’s customary to write messages down and read them to your loved one during an intervention. While you don’t have to read from a paper, it’s important to prepare what you want to say, to align messaging, and to share what you don’t want to say.

For example, it’s a good thing to decide upfront that you don’t want to use blame, shame, or judgement. No message should talk about what others think, about willpower, about self-esteem, or about anything else relating to stigma. That won’t help.

You can also align with everyone that messages should be about concern, about missing your relationship, about how it hurts to see someone you love struggle, how you want to help, how you miss them.

It’s also important to prepare everyone for the fact that conversations could get emotional. Your loved one might react with denial, outrage, blame, and anger. They could lash out. It’s important that people stay as calm as possible and try to be reassuring. Your goal is to say that you want to help and you know they are struggling. Allowing emotions to get the better of you can get in the way of that.

Getting Help

If you’re struggling with planning an intervention, a lot of rehab centers will help you do so. In addition, professional intervention specialists exist to help ensure everything goes smoothly. However, if you pick the timing right, have good motivations, and align everyone’s messaging to ensure you are all pushing to get help, you can be successful.

Treatment isn’t the end of addiction. It’s the first step in a journey of recovery. That will take time, might include setbacks, and will include a lot of changes. By staging an intervention, you’re committing to being there on that journey, and it’s important to let your loved one know. Good luck with your intervention.

Asana Recovery offers detoxresidential, and outpatient addiction treatment services at our center located in Orange County, California. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.