When alcohol or drugs have taken over a loved one’s life, everyone around them might feel desperate, lost, and hopeless. Sometimes, an intervention is a go-to thing in everyone’s mind as a last attempt to help their loved one seek treatment. But, can staging an intervention really work? After all, movies, TV shows, and countless stories suggest otherwise. Let’s explore the ins and outs of an intervention, including what you should expect from staging an actual intervention.
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What’s an Intervention?
An intervention is a group meeting that taps peer pressure to encourage someone to admit they have a problem with alcohol or drugs. The sole purpose of this meeting is to make the person agree to seek appropriate treatment.
Interventions are emotionally charged and can be tricky. While the essence of an intervention is a conversation, there are many types of interventions you can choose from. An intervention professional might have a method they prefer over others and suggest using them for your intervention. Here are the most common types of interventions:
- Crisis intervention: usually involves a police officer or law enforcement agent who gives social and medical resources to whoever is struggling with addiction.
- Brief intervention: a one-on-one conversation between an addict and a medical professional or counselor.
- Johnson intervention: the most common type of intervention involves different family members and friends coming together to discuss what’s happening.
- Family systemic intervention: this style focuses on the entire family and looks at addiction as a family problem, not an individual one.
Common Misconceptions About Addiction Interventions
Most people have never been involved in an intervention. Many have only seen drug interventions on television or in movies and have no clue what to expect from an actual intervention. Here are some common misconceptions about interventions that you need to stop believing before you plan one yourself:
- You should wait until a person has hit rock bottom
- Interventions will always work
- Addicts will stop talking with those staging interventions
- Interventions are best staged when the addict is under the influence
- Interventions should only be staged by friends and family
Do Interventions Work?
There is no data available on the effectiveness of interventions – most of it is based on personal experiences. This is probably because defining effectiveness can be challenging. While, overall, addicts are more likely to seek treatment if they undergo an intervention, this doesn’t impact the treatment itself.
Still, there’s hope. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence believes intervention success rates, as measured by a commitment to seek treatment, are above 90% when performed appropriately.
Another study in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that people who were in interventions about their alcohol use were significantly more likely to enter rehab or detox and remain abstinent than those who were not confronted.
Unfortunately, sometimes people will enter treatment to satisfy the request of their loved ones – sort of to get them off their backs – but they’re not willing to commit to a life of sobriety.
Tips for a Successful Intervention
As you are getting ready to stage your intervention, you must focus on the right things to yield a successful result.
Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Ask a trusted addiction professional about the best treatment approach before the intervention.
- Call your insurance provider to determine if it will cover the treatment you’re considering for your loved one.
- Contact national organizations and trusted online support groups for treatment programs, advice, and information on group meetings you should attend
- Call different treatment facilities to determine the steps required for admission, such as evaluation appointments, insurance verification, and whether or not there’s a waiting list.
- Make sure to make any necessary travel arrangements or learn about anything your loved one needs to start treatment.
Something else to remember: you might want to have an intervention team. Not everyone will be an excellent asset to use during your intervention. Think about people and your loved one’s respect and values.
An intervention team usually includes four to six people who are essential in the life of your loved one — people he or she loves, likes, respects, or depends on. This may include, for example, a best friend, adult relatives, or a member of your loved one’s faith. Your intervention professional can help you determine appropriate members of your team.
Don’t include anyone who:
- Your loved one dislikes
- Has an unmanaged mental health issue or substance abuse problem
- May not be able to limit what he or she says to what you agreed on during the planning meeting
- Might sabotage the intervention
More Things to Avoid
One of the biggest tips for staging an intervention is to know the right things to avoid. According to the Association of Professional Intervention Specialists, an intervention is not coercive, hurtful, or ambush. Make sure to avoid things like:
- Using labels: Avoid labels like “alcoholic,” “addict,” or “junkie.” These might be accusatory and hurtful. Opt for neutral terms and avoid defining them by their addiction.
- Inviting too many people: Interventions should only include close family members and friends. Stick to a minimal number of people.
- Being upset: While interventions can be overwhelming, being angry won’t help. Find ways to manage your personal feelings and emotions to stay neutral and calm.
- Talking to an intoxicated person: Don’t attempt an intervention when the subject is under the influence. It won’t be effective. Wait for them to sober up and try again.
What If Your Intervention Fails?
Unfortunately, not all interventions are successful. In some cases, your loved one with an addiction may refuse the treatment plan. They may erupt in anger or insist that help is not needed or might be resentful and accuse you of betrayal or being a hypocrite.
Emotionally prepare yourself for these situations while remaining hopeful for positive change. If your loved one doesn’t accept treatment, be prepared to follow through with your presented changes. Even if your heart and mindset are in the right place, you don’t have control over the behavior of your loved one. However, you do have the ability to remove yourself from a destructive situation.
If this intervention didn’t work, you could still try to make change happen. Ask other people involved to avoid enabling the destructive cycle of behavior and take active steps to encourage positive change.
Where to Find Help for Staging an Intervention
If you are ready to stage an intervention, contact us for assistance. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction counselors and therapists can help you stage a successful intervention and offer support throughout the process. Whether you’re looking to learn more about addiction or are ready to plan an intervention, we’re here to support you and your loved one.
We believe everyone should have an opportunity to seek substance abuse treatment. That is why we offer comprehensive treatment programs that provide ongoing support for those in recovery and their family members.
From detox programs to family therapy and aftercare support, we’re here to help your loved one find long-term sobriety. But most importantly, we’re here to help the family unit recover and heal from the consequences of addiction. If your loved one is ready to seek treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, contact us today to get started.
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2015). Intervention—Tips and Guidelines.
Liepman, M., Nirenberg, T., & Begin, A. (1989). Evaluation of a Program Designed to Help Family and Significant Others to Motivate Resistant Alcoholics into Recovery. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 15(2), 209-22.