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Intervention Do's and Don'ts

DO consider hiring a trained intervention specialist to facilitate the process.

A quality interventionist takes the guesswork out of how to conduct a successful intervention, and can help to ensure that this delicate process yields optimal results. An interventionist is someone who been specially trained to be able to guide families through the process of helping the addict to hear what loved ones who care about them have come to say, while assuring that the addict is heard as well. A quality intervention specialist will be able to coordinate every aspect that is involved with conducting an effective drug intervention process.

It is vital that family members and friends who are participating in this process are able to give their full attention to the interventionist. Because no one knows for sure if the addict will show up for the intervention high or if they will be coming down off of drugs, some of the participants may be quite anxious; thus, a quality interventionist can calmly direct the group about how to proceed in either case. Another thing that loves ones should be sure to consider, is that an addict may find it difficult to speak to their family about their substance abuse problem; having a professional interventionists on hand to talk to the addict privately will help them to be able to speak honestly about their drug or alcohol addiction, which is often the first step on the path to becoming sober.

DON'T wait for you loved one to hit bottom, before hosting a drug intervention.

When a drug or alcohol addiction remains uninterrupted, it will often plunge the addict through many lows, until they finally hit a "bottom." It would be remiss for loved ones to idly sit by and wait for the addict to "hit bottom", as this could potentially mean death. The reason why friends and family members should stage an intervention before this occurs is because reaching this low place could range from being arrested to being hospitalized for a potentially fatal overdose. Intervening before a major crisis occurs could be the life-line that an addict needs to keep from sinking to a point that could be irreversible.

DO only act out of love, concern and respect for the addict.

The group of individuals, who are chosen to take place in the intervention process, should only be comprised of people who have one goal in mind; to motivate the addict towards treatment. This group may include family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone else who cares about the addict and is concerned about their chemical dependency problem. The individual's who participate in the intervention should have a close bond with the addict, and should each have firsthand knowledge about the substance abuse problem and the negative effects that it has created. These loved ones should clearly understand that an effective drug intervention is meant to be a caring and non-judgmental process.

Unfortunately at the time of the intervention, many times an addict's closest relationships will be with other individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol. When a person who uses drugs shows up at an intervention to encourage the addict to get professional help, the addict may become enraged about this blatant example of hypocrisy; in these types of circumstances, unless a fellow addict is leaning towards drug treatment themselves, they should not be allowed to participate in the intervention.

DON'T become hostile or attack the addict with blame or anger.

There are times when a loved one has experienced a series of painful and negative consequences as a result of the addict's behavior; these consequences can include everything from an addict stealing a family member's identity and ruining their credit in order to buy drugs to causing physical injury to a loved one as a result of the addict driving while they are intoxicated. When a loved one has been injured to such an extensive degree, they may be unable to address the addict without exhibiting some degree of hostility. No matter what the circumstances, it is important that each person that is present at an intervention should only be there to help the addict, and not to lecture or berate them.

By the time an intervention finally takes place, the substance abuse problem may have already created a series of devastating effects upon the family, and some loved ones will be unable to conceal their pent up bitterness and anger. Because an intervention should only consists of facts being presented in a calm and rational manner, the most loving action that an angry loved one can take is to opt of this meeting. When the person that is being intervened upon begins to feels attacked, they may become defensive, and will be less receptive to what is being said. Each person that is attending an intervention should be present for the sole purpose of encouraging an addict to accept drug treatment; if a person in attendance has any other agenda, they need to be omitted from the intervention process, as they could possibly cause more harm than good.

DO prepare in advance, speaking openly and honestly about your specific concerns about the addict's substance abuse problem:

The benefits of a drug intervention are often directly correlated to the degree of effort that an addict's loved ones are willing to invest in the process. During an intervention, every participant should take the time to write a letter to the addict that speaks specifically to the behaviors that are related to the addiction; this letter should describe the various different ways that the substance abuse problem has impacted both the addict and the people who love them. Too much is at stake during a drug intervention for loved ones to begin to sugar coat the facts about the drug or alcohol addiction; thus, presenting these facts in a calm, loving, but straight forward way, could be an important key to motivating the addict towards treatment. Because a person cannot change what they do not acknowledge, an intervention presents the perfect opportunity for loved ones to be able to help the person to see the truth about every aspect of their drug or alcohol addiction.

DON'T minimize the negative impact that the substance abuse problem has created.

Because denial is a major symptom of addiction, loved ones need to be completely honest about the negative impact that the addict's substance abuse problem has created. Many times, the individual that is abusing drugs is so deeply entrenched in denial, that they may attempt to cling to the false belief that they are in complete control of their chaotic existence. Another reason why it is so important not to minimize the impact of a substance abuse problem is because a person with a drug addiction problem will sometimes become delusional, and will be unable to gain any real insight into how serious that it has become; it is at this point that loved ones should conduct an intervention in order to overwhelm the addict with reality, in order to attempt to break down their wall of denial.

DO locate and secure a quality drug rehab program, prior to the day of the intervention:

Because it may take time to find a quality drug treatment program, reserving a bed at a quality drug rehab facility is something that should be taken care of prior to the intervention. There are several additional details that could be involved with this process, which may include covering the treatment costs and making the necessary travel arrangements. When an interventionist is present, they will usually accompany the addict from the intervention to the drug rehab center; when an intervention specialist is not in attendance, loved ones will have to decide who will accompany the addict from the intervention to the drug treatment center, in the event that they are unable to travel alone.

DON'T wait until the conclusion of the intervention process, to reserve a bed at a quality drug rehab facility.

The goal of a successful intervention is for the addict to agree to attend a drug rehab center to get the treatment that they need; thus, every detail should be securely in place before the meeting takes place. Ask the treatment center to provide you with brochures about the drug treatment facility, and any other types of information that can be shown to the addict during the intervention; the moment that the addict agrees to attend the drug rehabilitation program, they should be immediately be transported to the drug treatment facility.

DO choose a drug rehab program that allows an addict ample time to get to the root causes of their substance abuse problem.

Choosing a long term inpatient drug rehab program will ensure that the addict will have an adequate amount of time to get to the reasons why they began to abuse alcohol or drugs in the first place. Long term residential treatment provides enough time for them to be able to complete a comprehensive drug rehab program that includes counseling, prevention relapse education, and an aftercare program.

DON'T discuss the reasons why the individual may have developed an addiction, as this will only serve to deviate from the main goal of the intervention, which is to get the addict to agree to go to treatment.

An intervention is not meant to be a counseling session, but a process that is conducted in order to help to break down the addict's wall of denial in hopes of motivating them to accept drug treatment; there will be plenty of professional counseling available at the drug rehab center, the goal of the intervention is just to get them to the drug treatment facility.

DO anticipate in advance what objections the addict may raise to avoid treatment, and come up with workable solutions, prior to the intervention.

Prior to the intervention, everyone that is involved should be prepared to act upon the addict's decision to leave for treatment. Loved ones should be prepared to make the necessary arrangements for personal things that must be taken care of while the person is attending treatment; this could include making mortgage payments, child care, pet care, or speaking with their employer.

DON'T wait for the addict to say "yes" to treatment, before having a plan firmly in place that takes into account the things that will need to be taken care of while they are attending drug treatment.

Nothing could be more damaging to the intervention process than the addict agreeing to get the potentially life-saving treatment that they so desperately need, only to find out that vital details have not been fully worked out; a situation like this could actually give an addict an acceptable excuse to delay treatment.

DO determine the consequences of refusing treatment at the pre-intervention meeting.

The consequences involved with refusing drug treatment should be firmly in place prior to the actual intervention; these consequences should be delivered in a calm and rational tone, directly upon the conclusion of the meeting. In order for the consequences to have the optimum affect, they should leave very little room for the addict to refuse professional help; these consequences can include homelessness, withdrawing financial assistance, and confiscating any items that their loved ones have been providing for them (cell phones, vehicles, etc.).

DON'T compromise in any way with the addict upon their refusal to immediately attend a drug rehab; each person should present their "bottom line" and be prepared to immediately follow through.

Be sure that every person that is attending the intervention realizes how vital it is to stick to their "bottom lines"; addicts can easily determine when a loved one in the group is pliable, and they will proceed to play this person like a fiddle. Each person should be fully prepared to begin to implement the actions and changes that have been pre-determined in the case of the addict refusing treatment. A drug intervention should not ever be perceived by the addict as a "cry wolf" exercise that will just blow over in a few days.