If you live with or know someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may feel hopeless and helpless to do anything for them. You possibly feel as though nothing you say or do changes the situation or helps them in any way. It is also possible that you struggle with what to say to your loved one to get them the help they need for their addiction. Indeed, you may feel helpless, but you aren’t… An intervention is an option for your family.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is an important, sometimes life-changing event created by family and friends of a person struggling with addiction. An intervention is used to help the person realize that they have a problem, they need help, and they have a strong team of support surrounding them. It is easy to turn on the television these days and see reality shows, which popularize the use of interventions in recent years. Unfortunately, these depictions often offer a false sense of what an intervention is and how it should be conducted.
An intervention is a carefully planned process designed to allow family members of someone struggling with addiction to take a proactive stance. According to data from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, nearly 90% of people seek help for their addiction after an intervention. It is essential for friends and family involved in the intervention to stay on topic, avoid placing blame, avoid accusations and hurtful statements, as all of the above may lead the person to refuse help or walk out of the intervention altogether.
An intervention should focus on the positive to every extent possible. Although it is essential for a person struggling with addiction to understand how their condition affects their loved ones’ mental and emotional health, the goal of the intervention is not to point blame at them for causing harm. Instead, it is beneficial to point out that the addiction causes negative changes in behavior, but there is a solution; detox and comprehensive treatment at a Southern Californian addiction center such as The Hills in Los Angeles When considering an intervention to help a loved one with drug or alcohol addiction, there are a few essential steps to help guide the process and increase the chances of success.
Choose Your Intervention Team Wisely
An intervention is supposed to be a conversation in which people who know, trust, and care for the addicted person come together in an attempt to persuade them to seek help. Those who participate in the intervention should be chosen with care. This ensures that those present have a meaningful relationship with the addicted person. People who don’t have a good relationship with the addicted person should be asked to stay away. An intervention is not the time or place to mend fences, make it personal situation public, or air grievances about something the addicted individual has said or done.
One option for the family to consider is hiring a professional interventionist. A professional interventionist can help you put together the best team, the best plan, and afford the best chance of success. After a successful intervention, you can begin to engage the entire family in the recovery process.
Find the Right Time
You will want to talk to your loved one when he or she is sober, or as close to sober as possible. Discussing addiction and its negative impacts with a person when he or she is high or impaired is ill-advised. Drugs and alcohol reduce a person’s ability to think clearly, react calmly, and to register and understand everything that’s being said completely. Choosing a sober moment also helps protect everyone’s safety as someone who is high or drunk is more likely to respond with out-of-control words or aggression.
Oftentimes, holding an intervention first thing in the morning might be your best opportunity. These hours often allow you to have a conversation before drugs or alcohol enter the picture for the day.
Use a Formal, Yet Private Spot
Although it may be highly tempting to hold an intervention in the family home’s confines, it is likely not beneficial. At the family home, the person can retreat to their bedroom or bathroom when the conversation begins, closing the lines of communication before any progress is made. Holding an intervention in a neutral space can reduce these issues and eliminate any negative or tense feelings that may arise from previous conversations held in the same space.
Pay Attention to the Order of Speakers
An intervention ends as soon as the person agrees to enter treatment. The conversation is designed to bring the family together just long enough for the addict to agree treatment is the best option. Consequently, the order of speakers is important. Allowing the right person to speak at the right time can lead to a successful, sometimes immediate end to the intervention.
The person struggling with addiction is likely tired of hearing about it from any family member, regardless of the closeness of their relationship. Hearing new stories from friends or even a spiritual advisor may be beneficial. Intervention participants can and should experiment with different scenarios and talk with professionals until they find an order that seems right for the situation.
Rehearse, Rehearse and Rehearse Again
During an intervention, emotions can and do run high. People can quickly lose their train of thought, forgetting what they had planned to say and how they intended to say it. Holding rehearsals (several of them) makes this less likely. Practicing helps people deliver and stand behind their statements at critical times when they need to be said. It makes highly charged thoughts and words clear and easier to understand.
Rehearsals can also help family members and intervention participants roleplay and prepare for angry words or other potentially negative emotions from the individual with the addiction. The number of rehearsals needed will vary depending on how many people are involved and how each person feels about speaking up during the intervention process. It may be best to leave those who could not commit to attending rehearsals out of the intervention altogether. Practice is essential to the success of the intervention, and therefore everybody must attend. Those who cannot participate in or don’t find rehearsals important enough may not be genuinely committed to helping the addicted person seek treatment.
Create a Script and Stick to It
An intervention script can take hours and sometimes days to create. Participants carefully detail everything they want to say, the words they want to use, and how they want to present their thoughts and emotions. Their script may be revised multiple times after speaking with an interventionist and practicing the message they want to convey. However, when the intervention itself begins, people are sometimes tempted to adlib. This is understandable but should be avoided whenever possible. If you have been rehearsing, you know your script well, and so do the other members of the intervention. Adding any surprise element into the intervention can make everybody feel uncomfortable and undo all the practice and rehearsing that has been done leading up to the event itself. This could make the intervention appear unplanned or poorly conducted, resulting in reduced chances for success.
Body Language is Important
How you communicate with your loved ones during an intervention is almost as important as what you say to them. While delivering your statements, be sure that your body language is open, warm, and welcoming. It is essential to focus on body posture elements such as keeping your arms and legs uncrossed, your hands unclenched, tilting your shoulders toward the person you’re speaking to, and leaning in for emphasis. It is also critical to look at the person that you are talking to.
Your intervention script likely contains many words and phrases of support, love, and understanding. Ensuring you use positive body language cues helps to match your body’s motion with what you are saying to the individual. When your body and words line up, you reduce confusion and make the message clear and easy to understand.
Control Your Temper
Modern medicine has proven that addiction stems from chemical changes in the brain, not from moral defects in character, as believed for so many years. Consequently, treatment professionals such as those at The Hills in Los Angeles, have responded by steering clear of punishment and negative confrontation in treatment methodologies for addiction. These methods are not kind, compassionate, nor effective and, therefore, do not lead to treatment success. Successful interventions need to mimic this overall tone of caring and compassion.
Maintaining a level head can be difficult, but don’t allow the addicted person to start a fight, change the subject, or drop the addiction issue altogether. It is also essential to resist the urge or temptation to blame, argue, or launch counterattacks towards any hostile words the addicted person may use.
Have a “Plan B”
When confronted by family members during an intervention, those with an addiction can act in unpredictable, sometimes unfavorable ways. Depending on the individual, they may choose to leave the room, cry hysterically, or say ugly and hurtful things that aren’t true or yell and scream. For these reasons, it is beneficial to develop a backup plan should your intervention not begin as rehearsed. If you develop and practice these backup plans, you will be prepared to handle these and any other situations that may arise. It is vital to remember that anything may happen on the day of the intervention, and not all reactions are easy to predict. Remaining flexible and being prepared are the two best things intervention participants can do before and during the intervention itself.
While interventions successfully convinced the majority of addicts to seek treatment, statistics do not show how many conversations are needed before people choose to accept treatment. For some, one conversation may be sufficient, whereas, for others, it may require multiple attempts before they can see how their addiction hurts others and why treatment is the next best step. If you don’t see immediate results from your first attempt, don’t give up. Treatment works, and people can be persuaded to make the needed changes to achieve sobriety and recovery.
Those struggling with substance abuse may be in denial about the harm their addiction causes to themselves and their loved ones. However, an intervention could help them understand that their behaviors hurt those they love while affecting their own physical and mental health. If the intervention subject understands that they have a strong support system as they enter medical detox, end a comprehensive treatment program at the Hills in Los Angeles, they are more likely to agree to treatment.