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How To Do A Drug Intervention Successfully

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

April 8, 2019

When reluctance and denial lead a user to refuse treatment, an intervention can not only help them make a better decision about their life but can open their eyes to the thoughts and hearts of those around them who have been impacted by their disease.

Often there comes a time when a drug-addicted loved one is reluctant to seek treatment. Perhaps they are beyond the point of making sound decisions for themselves, else they remain in a state of denial about their disease, regardless of the effect it has on their life. In these times, being that we are concerned for the well-being of our loved ones, the act of intervention comes into a discussion and is commonly acted upon gently.

An intervention for drug and alcohol addiction is a way of making an effort to encourage or push an individual to seek the treatment that they need in order to find sobriety. Most interventions take place with a group of loved ones, mainly family members, who arrange for the drug-addicted individual to be brought into a prearranged meeting, unbeknownst to them. They then are spoken to by each of their loved ones and a specialist speaks to them on a medical level, then presents treatment options that they may choose to accept.

Intervention does not take place in the same order or with the same steps every time. Many specialists believe that an intervention, much like an inpatient rehab program, can be tailored to an individual or family’s needs. While this makes sense and can assist under special circumstances, it is wise to follow some basics which medical and intervention experts abide by for most planned interventions.

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Basic Steps Toward Successful Intervention:

1. Unite Loved Ones
In the beginning your attempt to help intervene in your loved one’s world of addiction, it is key to seek out those who have been affected by their drug abuse. Family members, significant others, coworkers, and friends are encouraged to come together in support of one another, sharing their own experiences of the loved one’s addiction before the intervention takes place.

2. Try To Reach The Loved One Behind The Drug
While you and your family members may be yearning to speak to the person who once was so dear to them, it is important to remember that the person you are speaking to is being smothered by a greater force that they cannot fight. Deep inside, they are still themselves, but be ready for backlash during the intervention. Remember, it’s the drug-addled brain talking, not your loved one.

3. Present Facts Lovingly And Keep Calm
One of the most important steps to take during an intervention is a presentation of facts that makes it clear to your loved one that what they have done and how it has affected their family and friends is very real. This “evidence,” if you will, provides a basis for the idea that their addiction has gotten to the point of needing to be rehabilitated. During this step in the intervention, it is wise to always remain calm, though tension may be running high and emotional memories will be brought to mind. Remaining calm will help your loved one to not feel as though they’re being attacked, which may cause them to refuse treatment.

4. Present Consequences For Not Going To Treatment
Though nobody wants to make ultimatums and threats, it is perfectly healthy and can be of use to remind your loved one of all that they may lose if they continue on this destructive path without seeking help. Having gone through the struggle alongside them, it is fair to let them know that you will no longer be able to help them continue down this road, as it is a risk to your own health. Knowing they may lose you or others may be the deciding factor for entering a treatment program.

5. Speak About Health Concerns
Through the emotion struggles, more concerns should be brought to attention in terms of health. Nobody wants to watch their loved one die and with the help of an intervention specialist, health concerns can be made very clear as you speak to your loved one about seeking treatment and recovering their body and mind.

6. Provide Emotional Evidence
This important step during the process will allow for your loved one to think back to the actual experiences that he or she has caused in the lives of family and friends. While the stories may pull at your loved one’s heartstrings, being honest and making sure those stories relate back to how he or she has let you down will prove more effective. Siblings, parents, spouses, and children should all take part in this step as they face their loved one and be honest in letting them know how they’ve hurt and worried them during their struggle with addiction.

While this step is not meant to make your loved feel that they’re being attacked or equated with some monstrous person, it is still important to make clear the fact that their actions have caused many rifts that still need healing. AND that that healing can only take place after professional treatment is underway.

7. Push For Treatment, Commitment, And Plan
At this point, it is time to present options to your loved one. Their options should revolve around getting better and living a drug and alcohol-free life. Many intervention specialists will recommend a long-term stay at an out-of-state facility where life is new and familiar vices are far away. Being able to get your loved one to commit to this idea, sign onto the program, and actually leave will be difficult. After all of this work, the difficulty will be worth it.

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