Planning an Intervention

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People trapped by the disease of addiction often have trouble coming to terms with the reality of their affliction. In fact, it is usually those closest to the person who has to watch in despair as their loved one spirals down the drain.

One commonly used approach for helping a loved one get sober is to stage an intervention. An intervention is a tried and true method for friends and family members of addicts to encourage a loved one to seek professional treatment and understand the disease of addiction. (See also: The Value of a Drug Intervention Program)

1. Identify the Problem

If you suspect a loved one to be struggling with addiction, it’s important to be vigilant and look out for any signs. If you’ve arrived at this post, you’ve probably already identified a problem with a loved one. Individuals who are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol often display some of the following warning signs:

  1. High substance tolerance
  2. Deceptive behavior
  3. Motor control issues
  4. Unexplained financial troubles
  5. Bipolar behavior (intense mood swings)
  6. Smelling of alcohol frequently
  7. Frequently abandoning plans
  8. Anxiety
  9. Difficulty concentrating

When taken alone, each sign can indicate a different underlying issue, but when several of these signs appear on top of a suspicion that a loved one is struggling with substance abuse usually indicates that there is an issue.

2. Consult Friends and Families

If you are positive that a loved is struggling with substance abuse and needs the help of professional treatment, you should consult with other friends and family members. They may help to confirm your suspicions and offer more perspective on the situation. If other friends and family members agree that an intervention would be beneficial, then you should begin gathering an intervention group.

Members involved in the intervention group should be those closest to the addict and those who truly want to see the person get better. It’s important to keep the group relatively close-knit. After all, addiction is a sensitive subject and your loved one may not wish for their peers or expanded social circle to know about their disease.

3. Plan a Good Time and Location

Once the intervention group is formed, figure out the best location and time for the intervention to take place. An intervention should ideally be held in a location where the person will feel comfortable. Avoid areas that are public or that feel like an invasion of privacy. The best kind of place to hold an intervention is one that is comfortable, accessible to all participants, and private. Some examples include a counselor’s office, a conference room, a church, or a friend/family member’s living room.

It’s also important to plan your intervention for a time when the person is least likely to be intoxicated. An early morning intervention is likely the best bet, as this is when they are least likely to be under the influence and more likely to be receptive.

4. Stay Supportive and Stick to the Plan

Each member of the intervention group should write down what they want to say beforehand. It’s important that members are able to adequately express the ways in which their loved one’s substance abuse has negatively impacted them, as well as how much they care for the wellbeing of that person.

Ultimately, this is coming from a place of love and concern. Interventions often involve the exchange of intense feelings and views that may have been kept suppressed. By keeping tempers under control and sticking to the plan you reduce the chances of the addict walking our or getting involved in an altercation.

5. Have an Aftercare Plan

One of the most important parts of intervention is having a follow-up plan. As many recovering addicts can attest to, the most important part of recovery is changing patterns and avoiding destructive behaviors down the road, not just overcoming the initial hurdle of quitting. For that reason, it’s important to have a plan in place for the addict’s next steps.

This could be anything from planning to enter into a residential treatment center, detox, intensive outpatient program, or therapy. It’s important to hold a person accountable after intervention and make sure they are not making false promises. You should also be prepared for failure.

Addiction is not a rational disease. While it may be obvious to everyone else that there is a problem, an addict’s brain can become warped by the influence that substance abuse wreaks upon the psyche.

In Conclusion

If you’re seeking help organizing an intervention for a loved one, don’t hesitate to seek out the assistance of trained professionals. Professional intervention specialists and certified counselors can help provide you with structure and ideas for carrying out a successful intervention.

About The Author:

Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a growing chain of drug and alcohol rehab centers in Oklahoma and Kentucky. Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree and has worked in the healthcare industry ever since, creating a holistic treatment model that supports patients in the pursuit of achieving lifelong sobriety.

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