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An intervention is a structured conversation between loved ones and an individual struggling with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), often supervised by an intervention specialist.
Successful interventions can help loved ones express their feelings constructively.
If simply talking to the person with the problem doesn’t work, a group intervention is an effective next step. Interventions also help show those with SUDs how their actions affect those they care about. The goal is to help the person struggling get into addiction recovery and rehabilitation.
It can be hard to approach someone struggling with addiction. Although friends or loved ones mean well, they might not know what to say. The addicted person might also deny that they have a drug or alcohol problem, making open conversation difficult.
Outward signs someone is struggling might include:
Intervention specialists can help direct conversation to address these co-occurring disorders.
Many people with an addiction also struggle with other problems, like depression and eating disorders.
The first step in staging an intervention is contacting an intervention specialist. The intervention professional will keep communication between the parties moving. Intervention specialists help addicted people break their cycle of denial. An intervention specialist is essential to staging a successful intervention.
Solo confrontations can actually make matters worse. The individual with the SUD may become stubborn and not accept any help. Interventions should never be attempted by family and friends alone.
Once on board, the enlisted professional helps family and friends create an intervention strategy. There’s no one-size-fits-all plan for staging an intervention. These specialists work with intervening parties to address their loved ones’ specific needs. Some people who might help convince a loved one to start rehab include parents, siblings, spouses or partners, co-workers, and close friends.
Some intervention groups might consider including children, grandparents, and other family members. However, young children and elderly family members must be prepared for intense moments during the confrontation.
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Next, an intervention specialist will educate participating members in addiction and addiction recovery. Knowledge and compassion help provide insights the intervention party can use to convince someone they need help. Friends and family must rehearse and prepare for the intervention with their intervention specialist.
Someone struggling with drug abuse or addiction might not see how their actions affect others. Addiction changes brain chemistry, causing users to put drug abuse above all else. Friends and family can help trigger a “moment of clarity” by describing ways the addicted person has hurt them. These stories should be pre-written and reviewed by intervening members before the intervention.
As a general rule, the space where the intervention is held should be familiar and non-threatening. This puts the addicted person more at ease during the intervention. It’s also important to try to schedule a meeting time when the loved one will be sober. Interventions often last between a half hour and 90 minutes, but there is no mandatory time period.
You cannot control or predict how your loved one will react when confronted. Intervention specialists have professional experience calming hostile environments. Their presence is essential to keeping interventions as peaceful and productive as possible. If your loved one’s reaction to being confronted endangers the intervention party, call 911 immediately.
Interventions have become commonplace in popular culture over the last decade. Reality TV shows like A&E’s Intervention present interventions as difficult events. These programs may raise awareness for intervention’s usefulness. Unfortunately, they can poorly impact attitudes toward intervention as well.
You shouldn’t feel reluctant to stage an intervention because of a television show. You also shouldn’t be afraid of “overstepping your bounds.” If the warning signs are there, it’s important to speak to an intervention specialist. Your loved one’s life may be at stake.
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An intervention party needs to set expectations and recovery goals for the person with the SUD to meet post-intervention. Expectations may help to hold your loved one accountable. Consequences should be made clear by the intervention party. It’s important for the intervention party to stay strong in enforcing these consequences if need be. For more information on interventions and treatment options, contact a treatment provider today.
Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has 6 years of professional writing experience. A passion for writing led her to a career in journalism, and she worked as a news reporter for 3 years, focusing on stories in the healthcare and wellness industry. Knowledge in healthcare led to an interest in drug and alcohol abuse, and she realized how many people are touched by addiction.
Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional
A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).
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