How Do I Know If I Should Stage An Intervention?
January 26, 2021
Suppose you have a family member who is responsible, hardworking, and friendly. He has a good relationship with you, and you like being in his company. His life is going well, and he seems very happy. Also, you have a favorite weekend ritual: You always spend Sunday afternoons having a long conversation over coffee.
Until one Sunday, you noticed something off with how he behaves. He suddenly doesn’t want to talk over coffee anymore. He said he “had to take care of something.” But usually, he’s never busy on Sunday afternoons. He always makes time for your afternoon conversation over coffee.
Then, you notice more strange things about him. He doesn’t wake up as early as he used to, and he would go to work late. He would also go home later than normal. What’s even weirder is he seems to take more sick days than you’re used to. If you try to check up on him, he won’t answer the door.
Eventually, you realize that his relationship with his wife and children become sour. They’re rarely happy to be around him. You then hear that he has turned verbally abusive towards his family. At this point, you absolutely know that something is wrong.
So, you try your hardest to arrange a time for the two of you to talk. In the middle of the conversation, he casually mentions using drugs. This troubles you, and you tell him that he might be addicted and should seek professional help. But he just brushes the idea off, saying nothing’s wrong with him.
You then become really concerned about him that you keep trying to talk him into getting help. But the more you reach out to him, the more he distances himself from you. Messages are left on “read.” Calls are left unanswered. Any attempt to further reach out and he would throw any excuse he can come up with. You try to talk to his immediate family, but even they don’t know what to do anymore.
This is where intervention should come in.
During an intervention, you and the addict’s loved ones come together and talk to him about his struggles. Also, you would talk him into getting treatment as soon as possible.
A glimmer of hope shines on you. Before you get too excited, though, remember this.
An intervention should be the last resort
This is the most important principle: Do not go straight into staging an intervention if you haven’t talked to the addict a few times first. Not everyone suffering from addictions needs an intervention. So, as long as you can have meaningful conversations with the addict, keep reaching out to him. You may still be able to convince him to change.
Once these conversations no longer work, that’s the time for an intervention. Now, here are some things you need to consider.
Don’t do it by yourself
An intervention is not meant to be a one-on-one conversation with the addict. Instead, it should be done with a team of other people. These people could be the addict’s closest family members and a few friends. This intervention team often comprises four to six people (including yourself).
Why is a team necessary? Because an intervention works partly through peer pressure. Each one of you would mention specific behaviors of the addict that have affected you in a bad way. Through this, the addict would hopefully be more convinced that there’s a problem he needs help with.
Consult an intervention specialist
It’s a great idea to have a specialist guiding you through the entire process. With his skills and experience, he will be your guide, from the planning stage to what happens after the intervention.
Also, he would take the lead in the actual intervention. He would supervise it, making sure you and your team perform your roles properly.
Additionally, if ever the addict ends up either aggressive or defensive, the specialist is trained to defuse the situation. That way, the intervention would not go to waste.
Where can I find an intervention specialist?
For starters, look at your nearest rehab center. Typically, they would have an intervention specialist in their staff.
Another excellent resource is the Association of Intervention Specialists. This is the certifying body for intervention specialists across the country. Look into their directory and a specialist closest to your area.
Why should you plan out the intervention first?
An intervention is not your typical conversation where anything goes. Rather, it is a structured conversation with two specific goals. First, it aims to expose problems that the addict always denies. Second, it is meant to compel him to seek immediate treatment.
For these reasons, your questions and statements need to be crafted with much thought. Using the right words is key. The addict must feel that you are there to help them, not express your disdain for them. So, you shouldn’t use words that sound degrading, abrasive, or judgmental. Also, don’t lecture him. Instead, focus on open-ended questions. With these, you give the addict more chances to open up about his struggles.
Towards the end of the intervention, it’s possible for the addict to give a range of excuses. His aim could either be to avoid treatment or to find a reason to keep using drugs. This is another thing you need to prepare for. You need to know how to address these objections. The intervention specialist will be there to help, but it’s always good for you to know what to do yourself.
Impose consequences if the addict will not comply with treatment
Despite your best effort, the addict may still refuse treatment. That’s why you need to set consequences. For example, if he doesn’t agree to start a recovery program, you’d no longer send him money.
Make sure to follow through with these consequences firmly, too. Otherwise, the addict would think that he can easily manipulate you to get what he wants. You should not let him take control of you after the intervention.