Within the world of substance abuse addiction and recovery, the term “intervention” has taken on something of a stigma. Between the TV show that goes by that name and lots of conversation surrounding the subject within popular culture, there may even be some who view “intervention” as a puffed-up or unimportant term — but the reality is, interventions remain an important tool for friends and family members of people suffering from substance abuse, especially if they’re approached correctly.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re proud to assist with every part of the addiction recovery process. While our primary services are in areas like drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, which we offer on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, we’re also happy to provide resources and even often direct assistance to families or friend groups looking to stage an intervention and hopefully get someone close to them the help they need. Let’s dig in and clarify what the term “intervention” really means, plus look at some simple recommendations on how to plan and execute a helpful, positive intervention for someone in your life who is struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction.
What is An Intervention?
For those just learning about the term, an intervention is a process by which friends and/or family members of someone suffering from addiction or substance abuse attempt to communicate their concerns about that person’s behavior — most often in the form of confronting them with the negative effects they’ve seen as a result of their actions, and offering support for any possible process to help them get treatment. The goal of any intervention is to get the person being confronted into an addiction and/or substance abuse treatment program, though some interventions may be more successful than others.
Interventions are curious in nature for a few reasons, one of the chief ones being the interplay between encouragement and incentives. While it’s important to be positive and supportive during an intervention, you also need to be able to communicate a sense of urgency around their behavior and how it affects themselves, those close to them, and the people around them in general. In other words, while your goal should be to encourage someone into treatment at all costs, there’s no point sugarcoating the truth or making false promises.
This is where many folks get tripped up — they try to follow the rules of an intervention while also being overly positive and gentle, which can actually backfire in a handful of ways. One common example: telling someone that you want them to be happy and healthy but failing to address their addiction or substance abuse issues directly. This kind of half-hearted approach is often a sign of desperation, and it can come across as disingenuous or insincere, which may not have the desired effect on the person in question.
Luckily, with the right simple approaches, it’s easy enough to plan and execute a helpful, positive intervention. Our next several sections will look into how you can do this.
Determine the Core Group
Firstly, as you’re just getting started with planning an intervention, you’ll need to determine the core group that will be involved in helping stage it. This group will usually include the closest family members or friends of the person with substance abuse issues, and can also include other trusted individuals like clergy or members of a treatment center.
You’ll want to meet and talk about who will be involved in the intervention before you move any further, so that everyone is on the same page — this may even mean creating a group Google document or spreadsheet where everyone can share their ideas and thoughts.
Ensure Everyone Has Proper Info
When it comes to issues like substance abuse in a loved one, it’s very important to make sure everyone involved in the intervention has proper and recent information on that person’s substance abuse, current health/behavioral situation, plus any other details you may find pertinent. This can include things like medical history and reports from doctors, therapists or counselors — it all depends on who is involved and what they need to know to be effective during the actual intervention.
Practice and Repetition
It may sound silly to “rehearse” a counseling session or intervention, but in reality this is often one of the best ways to ensure everything goes properly and accomplishes its goal. Have everyone involved get together for a couple practice sessions, either over video chat or in person — it doesn’t matter as long as you can all see each other, hear each other’s voices (and even rehearse with the same tone of voice) and go over how the event should be conducted.
This may sound like a lot of extra work, but by having everyone involved practice their roles, you’ll make sure that everyone is on the same page about what needs to happen during the actual intervention itself — which can only improve your chances of making it work.
Prepare Boundaries and Next Steps
Finally, one of the single most important parts of preparing for an intervention is setting boundaries for what happens both before and after the event. In other words, you’ll need to have a number of concrete “next steps” already in place — what do you expect from your friend or loved one? What will happen if they choose not to attend treatment?
Will there be consequences (like losing certain privileges) if they refuse treatment? What do you plan to do if your intervention doesn’t work right away — will you need to stage a second one soon after the first, for example? These are all questions you’ll have to answer in advance of the actual event so that everyone involved knows what’s happening and can help make it happen.
Remember: When you’re getting ready to stage an intervention for a friend or family member, there’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. With the right preparation, positive attitude and willingness to work together with everyone involved, it’s easy enough to produce a powerful and effective event — one that can help set your loved one on the path toward recovery that much faster.
For more on this, or for help with any part of the addiction recovery process, contact our caring professionals at Moonlight Mountain Recovery at your nearest convenience.