So, you have come to the realization that somebody you care about has become addicted to drugs. Now you have to decide what you’re going to do. After you learn that promises, threats, and pleading won’t make the addict decide to change, you come to the point where you know it’s time to plan a drug intervention. The question is, how to do an intervention?
Nobody knows the victim of addiction as well as their family and friends. Why would it be necessary to hire a professional to organize a drug intervention? The addict’s family knows what the problem is, and they know what they want the addict to do. Even though it may make sense for the family to do it, it’s not a good idea to do an intervention yourself.
A professional skilled in intervention can still be an important resource. They can help you learn how to do an intervention. Based on their expertise, they can suggest the approach most likely to succeed. They can also help identify treatment options and make sure the intervention is handled in a way that will send the right message to the addict. If some kind of neutral territory is needed, the professional can help you find an appropriate location, perhaps even at their office. If the intervention professional is able to attend the intervention, they can help friends and family of the addict to stay focused on the purpose of the intervention.
You have already tried to convince the addict to get treatment and failed. Promises and threats haven’t helped either. An intervention may be what is needed to finally get the addict to accept treatment. Being confronted with the pain their addictive behavior is causing their family and friends may help the addict to realize how badly they are hurting the people they love the most.
An intervention is not some kind of random meeting. If it’s necessary, then do it right. Learn how to do an intervention. First, gather a planning group. Members of this group should be people who care about the addict and have a relationship of some kind with them. For example, you probably don’t want to involve a school teacher or a representative of law enforcement, unless these individuals have a significant relationship with the addict. In most cases, a professional should be involved in the planning.
Next, gather information. Try to determine how serious or severe the person’s addiction is. Learn about how their drug of choice affects the addict and what options for treatment are available. It may even be helpful to make arrangements at one or more treatment centers so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
Now it’s time to form the actual team who will do the intervention. All of those on the team should be clear about how to do an intervention. Siblings, spouse, parents, and close friends are good options for inclusion in the team. These team members will agree on a day and time for the intervention, decide where the intervention will be done, rehearse the message each member will give and plan the steps of the intervention. If there is a time when the addict is likely to be more sober than usual, try to plan the intervention at that time. If the addict has recently had to face serious consequences (jail, hospitalization) due to their drug use, it might be a great time to talk to them about treatment. It’s important that the addict not know that an intervention is being planned.
Decide what the consequences will be if the addict still refuses to get help after the intervention. Often, these consequences will involve the addict losing benefits that they have been given. The team must agree among themselves that they will remain firm about these consequences. Empty threats will do more harm than good.
With a clear understanding of how to do a drug intervention, each member of the team should write out what they plan to say to the addict and practice it with other members of the team. Try to avoid being long-winded. By being clear and concise, the message of loving support for the addict will be very powerful. While it is important to make clear to the addict how their behavior is hurting the people they love, it’s important to avoid giving them a guilt trip. The focus should be on the team member’s care and concern for the addict and should make it clear how the addict’s behavior has caused them harm. Many addicts convince themselves that they’re not hurting anyone but themselves, so it is important that they learn how they are hurting others. Think of it as a kind of “dry run” or final rehearsal.
Do the actual intervention. Now that the team has learned how to do an intervention and properly prepared the meeting, it’s go time. Arrange with the addict to meet them at a specific place and time. Each team member will share what they have planned to say to the addict about the hurt they have endured and what they want the addict to do for themselves. It is helpful if the team uses open and caring body language. Be supportive, not judgmental. Sitting with arms crossed, eyes looking down or at other parts of the room communicate a closed attitude or lack of real interest. Persons with whom the addict has the closest relationship should speak first. The addict must decide on the spot how they will respond to the request for treatment. If they accept, then they should be taken directly to the treatment facility. If they reject treatment, then the consequences must be put into effect immediately.
Those closest to the addict should be prepared to support the addict during and after treatment. This may involve attending counseling sessions or self-help groups with the addict.
If the addict rejects treatment after the drug intervention, don’t start to think that it was a failure. Don’t start to believe that you didn’t know enough about how to do an intervention. Keep expressing your love and concern to the addict and continue to urge them to get treatment. One rejection of treatment does not mean there is no hope. After days or weeks, the addict may decide that they really do need treatment.
Addiction is a progressive disease. It will not get better on its own and the addict will continue to get worse and worse. Most of the time, promises, threats and pleading will not convince the addict to get treatment. That’s where an intervention comes in. While it is a difficult process, it may be the best hope for the future of the addict. With careful planning, an intervention may be just the push needed to get the addict into treatment. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
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