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If someone you care about is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, addiction, or process addiction, an intervention can be an excellent resource. This formal, nonjudgmental method of confrontation first serves to help the individual recognize the serious nature of the issue and then to understand that treatment is the best option.
The acceptance of immediate treatment is a key aspect of an intervention, as is the loving participation of close friends and/or family members. Setting the right tone, conveying correct and helpful information, and encouraging health and healing over continued addiction can help someone you love to choose recovery.
There are a number of different types of intervention styles as well as a range of different situations in which an intervention may be an effective choice. Interventions have been staged for people who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse or addiction, an untreated mental health disorder, a process addiction (e.g., problem gambling, shopping addiction, etc.), and other issues as well.
An intervention is usually deemed appropriate when:
The type and style should be determined based on the nature of the situation as well as the needs of the individual and family members.
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There are a number of different types of techniques for holding an intervention. Some of these include:
In most cases, an intervention is a straightforward process in which the concerned family members gather to share about how their loved one’s addiction has changed their lives and to ask that person to accept the offer of help.
An interventionist should be educated in the nature of substance abuse and addiction treatment. A certification in family mediation can be helpful in conjunction with a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. A master’s degree may provide even more specialization training.
Many interventionists have a personal history of drug and/or alcohol abuse and know firsthand what it takes to overcome the disorder and move forward. Others have a great deal of experience in staging interventions.
Depending upon the style of intervention chosen, the steps to make it happen will vary. In most cases, however, staging an intervention involves the following steps:
Ideally, fewer than five people should take part in an intervention to ensure that the person doesn’t feel overwhelmed or ambushed. The people who are closest to the individual should take part – namely, the spouse or partner, parents, siblings, or close friends. In some cases, it may be appropriate for a religious leader to take part or the person’s boss (especially if it is a workplace intervention). An interventionist or family mediator can help plan and stage the event.
It is important to note that the presence of some individuals, no matter how well-meaning and supportive they may be, may not be a positive choice. Remember, the goal is to help the person recognize that addiction is a disorder and that immediate medical and psychological care is needed. Thus, anyone who may detract from that process should not attend. For example:
It is impossible to predict how an intervention will unfold. Addiction is unmanageable; thus, people who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol may behave erratically as a result. If the person is not sober upon arrival, a common occurrence given the nature of addiction, participants will need to wait for the person to be coherent and responsive.
If the person exhibits extreme denial that there is even an issue that requires an intervention, the focus will turn to the objective facts of the situation. Highlighting the personal situations and consequences that the person and others in the family have experienced as a direct result of ongoing drug and alcohol use is a good start. Following up with medical evidence that describes how long-term substance abuse can physically alter the structure and function of the brain comes next. It is important the person recognize that addiction is a medical disorder; only in this way will it become clear that treatment is needed.
Should the person attempt to leave, it should be made clear that consequences are unavoidable. The rest of the family and others will no longer provide the support – financial and emotional – that has enabled the ongoing addiction. Family members will need to follow through on this promise. The hope is that the person will stay to hear everyone out. If the person doesn’t stay, the hope is that over the course of the following weeks or months, the individual will realize that treatment is necessary and request help.
Yes. It is possible to have an intervention without hiring an interventionist. However, many families opt to hire a professional for the following reasons:
Ground rules can be determined with the interventionist prior to the intervention itself. These ground rules should be communicated to all participants at the planning session and then established again when the intervention begins. The idea is to let everyone know up front that the intervention is a nonjudgmental and supportive event designed to help the person struggling with addiction connect with lifesaving treatment services. Ground rules should be specific to the person and the circumstances but often include:
Immediately after the intervention is over, the person should be able to get into the car and go directly to rehab. Capitalizing on the momentum of the intervention and the positive focus can help the person to overcome any fear or reservations around the changes ahead long enough to get into the program and take some positives steps forward.
This is not negotiable. Many people at the heart of an intervention will request to attempt to stop using alone or to postpone entry into treatment until this errand can be completed or that loose end can be tied up. The unfortunate truth is that if it were possible to get clean alone, the intervention would not have been necessary, and those who wait to enter rehab are taking a huge risk with their health and personal safety.
Cost for intervention services vary radically depending upon a number of factors, including: