If you are close to someone who has a drug or alcohol problem, chances are that you want to help them get better. Because people with these problems are often in denial, early, well-managed interventions can be critical in ensuring they get the care they need before their condition gets any worse.
If you’re considering holding an intervention for someone close to you, make sure to look through the time-tested tips below. If you or your loved one are in the New England area, check out this directory of
1.) Don’t wait for rock bottom
One of the most harmful and persistent substance recovery myths is that you have to wait for someone to hit “rock bottom”, that is, a particularly low point in their life brought about by substance misuse, before you urge them to seek treatment.
While this was the thinking many decades ago, it’s now understood that waiting for an individual to hit rock bottom usually only makes their illness progressively more difficult to treat.
Today, it’s recommended that get immediate treatment and rehabilitation. In most cases, early treatment often means a shorter, less difficult, and less expensive recovery period. Waiting for your loved one to hit rock bottom will only give their illness more time to damage their mind and body.
2.) Give yourself time to prepare
While it’s important to get immediate help for your loved one, you also need to take time to breathe and consider your own emotional and mental state. You will also be in a worse position to help them if you act impulsively and don’t take some time to look at all your options.
An intervention is a matter that has to be done delicately, not just for the sake of your loved one’s mental and physical health, but for the good of your future relationship as well. Take a day to plan out your next moves and make sure to include other key family members as well.
3.) Get expert advice before you confront your loved one
You may want to talk to a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, priest, rabbi, or any other qualified person before you confront your loved one about their drug or alcohol use. Chances are they could provide you with solid advice on how to move forward. They may also be able to provide you with necessary counseling to help you work through the trauma of your loved one’s illness.
4.) Consider hiring an intervention professional
Seeing a loved one change for the worse from the effects of drugs or alcohol can be traumatizing. People with very close ties to individuals with SUD often find it difficult, if not impossible to remain objective during an intervention. Emotions can easily get out of hand, especially if the loved one is being defensive or in denial about their drug use.
To add to this, the individual with the SUD may not be able to think clearly or practice empathy in the way a person who functions normally could. They may also become manipulative or make concessions to temporarily placate others so that their drug use can continue.
For these reasons, it’s often best to get in touch with an intervention expert to help you confront your loved one with their drug use. Not only will they be able to bring their experience and training in handling these situations, but they will also typically be able to prepare you and other family members to assist in your loved one’s initial recovery process.
5.) Don’t include potentially antagonistic family members
There is still a lot of ignorance surrounding substance use disorder. As far as many people are still concerned, giving in to drugs and alcohol is nothing more than a moral failing and a source of shame. Your loved one is also probably aware of who in their family has these viewpoints.
It’s best to keep these family members away from the planning and intervention process, even if, in their mind, they are looking out for the affected individual. Interventions are far more effective when the person with the illness is fully aware that the people confronting him are doing it out of love, and not out of a desire to see them put in their place.
6.) Avoid giving in to strong emotions
This can be incredibly difficult to do, especially if the person with the SUD is a spouse, a child, or a parent. You will likely have very strong feelings for the person, one way or another, which can lead you to say or do things that may not be in everyone’s best interest.
Regardless, it’s important to at least try to remain calm throughout the intervention. If your feelings are starting to overwhelm you, there’s no shame in just walking away and giving things another try soon.
Interventions should be done early and with all the finesse the individual’s family can muster. By taking the time to plan and stage an intervention properly, you can avoid unneeded antagonism and are far more likely to succeed in convincing your loved one to voluntarily seek treatment.
In any case, interventions can be very challenging, given that many people with substance issues are not going to be receptive to treatment. To better improve the odds of the individual agreeing to treatment, the advice of qualified counselors, therapists, and intervention specialists may be useful.