recovering addicts and alcoholics

The Basic Guidelines for Conducting Intervention


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If your friend or family member is struggling with addiction, substance abuse, or another disorder and either does not seem to recognize his or her problem or refuses to get help, you may want to consider organizing an intervention. Here are a few guidelines and suggestions to aid you in the process. Remember, the best time to initiate an intervention is now, not when the person of concern has hit rock bottom. By giving your dear one a reason to seek help, you could be saving his or her life and greatly improving your own.

You may want to hire an intervention professional if you feel you need additional support. Interventionists can also serve as neutral, unbiased coaches and can even escort your dear one to the treatment facility. You may want to consider using a professional interventionist. To find an interventionist, ask for recommendations from a reputable treatment center or online resources.

An intervention is simply an orchestrated attempt to get someone to seek professional help. During an intervention, family and friends gather together to confront a dear one in a compassionate way, encouraging him or her to seek professional help with alcoholism, drug addiction, or another problem.

If you are starting an intervention, you will want to form a group and gather information about your dear one’s problem. Each group member should write a letter to read during the intervention—the letter should express love and concern as well as detail specific problems brought on by the dear one’s behaviors. The letters should also outline the consequences of not accepting treatment, such as asking the person to move out or explaining that he or she will be allowed less contact with certain dear ones.

When the intervention date arrives, the dear one should be taken to the intervention site without revealing the reason. Then the letters are read, and a specific treatment option is given, which your dear one is asked to accept. Keep the tone of the conversation loving and compassionate but powerful—you do not want to come off as if you are attacking your dear one, but you still want to get your point across. The intervention should not last longer than an hour.

In some cases, a dear one will refuse the treatment offer and become extremely angry and resentful. You will need to prepare yourself for this possible reaction. If treatment is refused, make sure you and your team members follow through on the consequences you warned your dear one about. These can be powerful motivators and may lead your dear one to seek help shortly down the road. Try to remain hopeful and know that while you do not have control over your dear one’s actions, you do have control over whether you are affected by them.

Interventions involve intense emotions and can cause conflict and resentment, so they need to be carefully planned and executed. Here are some tips to help ensure a successful intervention:

Research your dear one’s problem using reputable sources, and make sure each team member is using the same resources

Appoint one person to act as a liaison for all team members and ask him or her to hold conference calls or meetings with the team to discuss the progress.

Create a list of tasks to complete and assign at least one task to each team member.

Stage a rehearsal of the intervention with all the team members to decide the order of reading, sitting arrangements, and other details, so the actual intervention goes smoothly.

Talk about the objections your dear one might have with the team and write down calm, logical rebuttals so that you are all prepared.

Do not offer your dear one time to think about accepting treatment—this can lead the person to go into hiding or go on a dangerous binge.

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