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How to Stage an Intervention

Staging an intervention can be a great way to get a loved one into rehab. It can also save his or her life.

What is an Intervention?

Hugging interventionAn intervention is a structured conversation between loved ones and an addict, often supervised by an intervention specialist.

Successful interventions can help loved ones of an addict 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 show addicts how their actions affect those they care about. The goal is to help the person struggling get into addiction recovery and rehabilitation.

When to Intervene for a Loved One

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:

  • Secretive behavior
  • Borrowing money
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Deterioration of physical appearance
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Problems at work or school
  • Health issues

Many people with an addiction also struggle with other problems, like depression and eating disorders.

Intervention specialists can help direct conversation to address these co-occurring disorders.

How to Stage an Intervention

  • 1
    Find an Intervention Specialist

    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.

    Confronting an addict alone can actually make matters worse. He or she may become stubborn and not accept any help. Interventions should never be attempted by family and friends alone.

  • 2
    Form Your Intervention Group

    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 the addict’s children, grandparents and other elderly family members. However, children and elderly family members must be prepared for intense moments during the confrontation.

  • 3
    Learn and Rehearse

    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.

  • 4
    Choose an Intervention Meeting Place and Time

    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.

  • 5
    Be Prepared for Anything

    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.

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Perceptions of Intervention

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.

The Next Steps Forward

16388311030_9f07ed35a5_zAn intervention party needs to set expectations and recovery goals for the addict to meet post-intervention. The addict must be held accountable if he or she does not keep up with treatment.

Possible consequences could be removing children from their custody or refusing to let them live at home anymore. It’s important for the intervention party to stay strong in enforcing these consequences if need be.

An intervention can help your loved one overcome their addiction.

Call us now for more information on staging an intervention and finding treatment.

Sources & Author Last Edited: November 25, 2015

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2011). Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/intervention/MH00127
  2. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "Tips and Guidelines for Proper Intervention." Retrieved on May 29, 2015 from: https://ncadd.org/get-help/intervention
About the Writer, Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith is the editorial director for Addiction Center. After working for years as a journalist, she joined the Addiction Center team in hopes of spreading awareness about addiction and mental health issues and helping people get treatment.

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