Do you have a family member or friend who is suffering from an addiction? If you do, you’re aware of how difficult it is to talk to them about their addictions. Encouraging them to seek professional help is even harder. Often, the addict would distance himself from you or dismiss the conversation.
But all hope is not lost. There is still something you can do, and it’s called an intervention.
An intervention is a way to confront the addict and make him realize that there’s a problem. Also, the aim is to get him to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Curious about interventions and why they are important? Here are a few facts about them.
Interventions are last-resort methods
You should not arrange for an intervention if it’s your first attempt to talk to your addicted loved one about his issues. Instead, you should only use it if many different attempts to initiate that kind of conversation have failed.
As with any bad behavior, you need to give the addict opportunities to change on his own. Forcing change the first time around may only lead him to be sour or hostile towards you.
You cannot do it alone
Interventions are meant to be done with a team of others. This gives an element of peer pressure, which would better convince the addict to seek help.
Usually, intervention teams have five or six people in them, including you. Each one of you would mention specific behaviors of the addict that have caused you trouble. With that, the addict would hopefully realize that he has some problems that need to be addressed.
You may need the help of an intervention specialist
An intervention specialist is a mental health professional trained to handle the procedure. He will help you all throughout, from planning the intervention to the next steps after it. He will also be with you during the actual intervention to supervise it. He may be the first one to talk to your addicted loved one on that day.
For interventions to work, they must be planned well
Successful interventions are carefully strategized first. You, your team, and the intervention specialist should work together in this planning stage.
First, you will figure out how the conversation with your addicted loved one will flow. Interventions are meant to be structured; it’s not like a typical conversation with a friend. Thus, you need to think carefully about the questions you’ll ask.
Even the words themselves are important. The addict must feel that you’re coming from a position of help. Thus, you should avoid words that sound aggressive, angry, or accusing. Instead, use open-ended questions. Have the addict open up himself about what’s going on in his life.
The rest of the intervention team must also keep that in mind. No one should lecture the addict. Instead, they should only itemize the addict’s misbehaviors and how they’ve affected them.
Another crucial thing is to anticipate how the addict might respond. That way, you can prepare different ways to handle different responses. This helps keep the intervention flowing smoothly.
Successful interventions require practice
Good interventions are also well-rehearsed. Everyone needs to have a prepared set of questions and responses and stick to them. Ideally, no one should improvise or ad-lib during the whole process. Otherwise, any unplanned conversations could spark a word war, or the addict could walk out before the process is finished.
Practice with the intervention specialist as well. That way, he can evaluate your performance and recommend ways to make it better. He can also advise you on proper intervention tactics that you might have missed.
You must remain calm during the entire process
While the addict may become emotionally charged, it’s important that you and your team don’t lose your cool. The last thing you want is to trigger extreme negative emotions from the addict because of how you talk to them.
Keep calm and use words that express care and concern, not anger or disappointment. Also, your body language is essential. Use open body language during the entire procedure. Examples of these are:
- Keep your arms and legs uncrossed
- Maintain eye contact with the addict when talking to him
- Do not clench your fists
Also, pay attention to your tone of voice. Talk in a warm manner as well, avoiding sharp and overly loud tones.
Interventions demand an immediate decision afterward
One key objective here is to convince the addict to get treatment right after the session. Most addicts do; otherwise, they will have to face consequences set by the intervention team. For example, you might agree not to send money to the addict anymore if he refuses treatment. Or you could require him to move out of your house if he says no to rehab.
Combining the peer pressure from your team and the threat of consequences makes interventions great ways to convince the addict to get treatment.
But this is also a controversial side of the procedure. It’s possible that the addict would just agree to enroll in treatment to avoid the consequences. He may not be fully committed to becoming drug-free. This does not represent the majority of cases, though.
Interventions can turn negative feelings into new lines of communication
During the conversation with the addict, emotions can run high. You can’t prevent anyone from feeling betrayed, angry, or frustrated during the course of the intervention. That’s normal, and these emotions can even open new avenues of communication for the addict and his loved ones.
With an intervention specialist by your side, he can make this possible by creating an atmosphere of trust. When trust is the main driving force behind the intervention, the process will be smooth even if emotions get triggered. Everyone will be free to share what they think and feel without fear of judgment or retaliation.
When the addict realizes how his behaviors have affected others, he would be more convinced that there’s a problem he needs help with. With that, the decision to seek help is more likely to be from within himself, not out of pressure.