How to Stage an Intervention
What is an Intervention
An intervention is often the very first step taken by loved ones in helping someone with addiction. Whether it be an alcohol intervention, or a drug abuse intervention, there is an organized, planned approach for success. The purpose of the intervention is to confront the addict in hopes of promoting acceptance of the addiction and to show comforting support for the rehabilitation process to come.
How to Stage an Intervention
Gather a team
This is the foundation of an intervention, the team. Family interventions are most common however friends and colleagues of the addict can also be present. The ideal size for an intervention team is typically between 3-5 people the addict has a close relationship with. 3-5 team members are large enough to show the addict that there is an obvious addiction, but small enough to not overwhelm them and allow for easy communication amongst the group.
Selecting the right interventionist is key to a successful intervention. Make sure the professional you choose is certified, and they should hold some sort of counseling degree or license. Experience counts too! The number of interventions they’ve conducted and their approach to interventions is also highly important. Have they had much experience with family interventions?
Planning an intervention
Interventions can be highly stressful for everyone involved and are crucial to beginning the drug rehabilitation process. It is, of course, most important to identify exactly what the issue is and the reasons why an intervention is needed. Given the dramatic and emotional nature of interventions, thought must be given in selecting your intervention team. Decide who the addict is closest to and with whom they have comfort and trust.
Not too many of us have interventions as commonplace in our lives. For this reason, rehearsing and practicing the intervention with your team, and your chosen interventional professional is a must. Go over the initial approach, discuss and prepare exactly how the intervention should go. Perhaps most importantly, prepare yourself and your intervention team for the likely refusal or resistance from the addict to participate.
Accepting that one has an addiction is a very difficult thing. There is a very good chance the addict will deny the issue, or refuse to participate in the intervention and planned follow up care. Situations like these are why the intervention team should have planned some consequences to the addict if they refuse help. The consequences, of course, are dependent on the situation but oftentimes a proposed consequence may be taking away a vehicle, denial of visitation rights to children, or loss of employment. Your interventionist will be able to discuss these with you.
Choose a location
Remember that when choosing your intervention team, you must consider how comfortable and trusting the addict will be with the team members. The same consideration should be taken when deciding on where to conduct the intervention. Family interventions are personal and can be very emotionally charged. For that reason, public venues should be avoided. Consider where the addict is likely to be comfortable. Make sure the venue is a commonly visited place by the addict but not somewhere that may have a negative association. Perhaps some dramatic events related to the addiction have occurred at the addict’s home; choose a more neutral location for the intervention.
Be prepared for anything
Anything can happen during an intervention. This is one major reason why a professional interventionist should be present. Consider the viewpoint from the addict. Will they be defensive, offended, confused? There is an added element of unpredictability when dealing with those suffering from drug or alcohol addictions. Give some thought to the addict’s personality, the type of addiction they suffer from, and recent behaviors. Consider the possible reactions during the intervention and use that when considering your team members. A professional interventionist will be well versed in a variety of possible scenarios.
What Happens After an Intervention?
Time is of the essence post-intervention. It is imperative that the intervention team be ready for the addict’s acceptance for help and have a follow-up plan in place. The team should have a treatment facility chosen and registered. There needs to be an immediate transfer of the addict to their treatment facility following acceptance of the intervention and agreement to therapy. Have necessary items ready to go for the addict so no distraction can occur with packing. Have what they need ready, and ensure them everything is planned.
Also known as Aftercare, extended care is the step following Detox. Here the addict may enter an inpatient care facility or an outpatient care center that allows the patient to return to some normal life activities. More information on Extended Care can be found at this link:
A version of Extended Care where the addict can live in a designated housing community amongst other recovering addicts. This type of aftercare allows for a sense of normal life while still maintaining recovery strategies like group therapy, counseling, and structured behavior. This type of care may or may not suit all recovering addicts but should definitely be considered as a type of aftercare.
What if your Drug Intervention Fails?
What to do
Convincing an addict to seek treatment isn’t usually easy. Staging a successful intervention is tough and even if you do everything right there is a chance the addict may resist treatment. Don’t be discouraged if the first intervention attempt fails; plan, and try again. However, your post-intervention behavior is crucial to future success. Whatever ultimatums you made during the initial intervention should be maintained. This means you may have to move out of the house, cut off money supplies, or even make the addict leave the home. However difficult, you must stand firm on promises made during your intervention. Again, the most important thing you must do after a failed intervention is – try again.
What not to do
The things you shouldn’t do following a failed intervention fall in line with what you should do. Firstly, do not give up. It could very well take several tries before your attempt at intervention is successful. Secondly, do not make compromises. Remember the promises you made during the intervention; to leave, to file for divorce, to take away child visitation rights; this may be difficult but it is an absolute must for future success.
Why might your intervention fail?
Interventions are tough. They are tough to plan, tough to initiate, tough to go through, and tough to accomplish. Many will fail and if your intervention fails it is important to consider why. Perhaps the planning fell short. Maybe the flow of conversation wasn’t there or maybe the addict wasn’t comfortable with the group or location. Perhaps the intervention went in too many directions. Were there solid ultimatums given? Were those ultimatums committed to? Another reason interventions fail is because no clear solution to the addiction was presented. If too much focus is placed on the problem and not the solution, the intervention may stall. Focus on the solution!