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Intervention Advice and Tips



It has been said repeatedly that the alcoholic or drug addict must hit rock bottom before he or she is willing to make a change. However, what about family members and close friends? Is there anything they can do to encourage their loved one to seek help? Absolutely.

You can, with or without the help of professional, conduct an intervention on behalf of the alcoholic or drug addict. An intervention is a tool to force the individual to confront his or her issues in a way that will hopefully motivate them to seek treatment. Sometimes it works the first time, other times multiple interventions are needed.

Professional Help Available

While it’s true that some people decide to conduct an intervention without professional help, others don’t feel comfortable doing so. That’s fine. You can always avail yourself of the services of a licensed professional who specialises in drug and alcohol intervention.

Using a professional offers a number of advantages:

  • Training – The licensed professional obviously has the training required to thoroughly understand addiction and how to address your loved one. That training may be very helpful in an especially difficult situation.

  • Experience – There’s a lot to be said about personal experience. To that end, the professional has likely conducted many interventions prior to meeting with you; his/her experience can only be positive for your situation.

  • Neutrality – A successful intervention requires as much neutrality as possible. Otherwise, the addict may feel as though he or she is being attacked. A professional counsellor offers neutrality because he/she is a stranger to both the addict and intervention team.

You may choose to seek the advice of a professional yet still conduct the intervention on your own. That’s fine. Professional counsellors are willing to provide as little or as much help as you desire.

Tips for Conducting a Successful Intervention

Below are five tips to help you conduct a successful intervention. Please note that there are right and wrong ways to do this. If an intervention is not conducted properly, it can actually do more damage than good. Again, do not be afraid to seek professional help if you are uncomfortable doing this on your own.

Tip 1 – Select the Intervention Team Carefully

When putting together an intervention team there are couple of things to consider. First, you need to select people who are both close to the addict and capable of influencing him/her positively. Positive influence cannot be stressed enough. It is not a good idea to involve someone whose influence is negative, regardless of how close that person is.

The second thing to consider is team members who might further enable the addict by making excuses or being unwilling to hold him/her accountable. Each member of the team must be firm in his or her resolve to no longer tolerate addictive behaviour. Any unwillingness gives the individual room to reject what he or she is being told.

Tip 2 – Plan the Intervention Carefully

No military general goes into battle without careful planning. To do otherwise would be to put every member of his army in jeopardy. The same is true for drug or alcohol intervention. If it’s not planned, you run the risk of a chaotic event that drives the addict away and causes undue emotional stress to team members.

Planning should involve things like who is going to speak and in what order, what each one is going to say, and the focus of the message the team is trying to get across. Planning has an added advantage in that it or reduces the risk of an event where emotions get out of control.

Tip 3 – Write Things Down

It can be very difficult, as a team member, to share your thoughts when it’s your turn. Let’s face it; an intervention is a very stressful time. Many people find it easier if they write down their thoughts in the form of a letter to the addict. When it’s their turn, they simply read that letter aloud.

Tip 4 – Establish Clear Choices

Given that the intervention is intended to motivate the alcoholic or drug addict to seek treatment, that individual must be presented with clear choices. An example of a clear choice might be to either seek help for addiction or face the possibility of having to find somewhere else to live. Sometimes an employer might be involved, offering the choice of seeking help or losing a job.

Clear choices must be presented to the addict. Otherwise, there is nothing to motivate him or her to make a change. The planning stage is the time to work out these choices among team members.

Tip 5 – Focus on the Facts

No matter how much you try to avoid it, emotions will come into play during the execution of the intervention. However, emotion should never be the focus of the event. Team members need to commit ahead of time to stick only with facts when addressing the addict.

The reason here is simple. Facts are not something that can be disputed with any credibility. On the other hand, emotions are left up to individual perception. When you present the addict with undeniable facts, such as a zero bank balance proving his or her addiction has destroyed family finances, he or she is brought face to face with the reality of what they are doing.

Intervention Follow-up

After conducting an intervention, it is important to follow up with the addict in a timely manner. If no decision is immediately made, following up within a couple of hours is a good idea. If a decision still hasn’t been made, talk with the addict again after a few days. If your initial intervention does not motivate him/her to seek help, do not give up. You can always try again in a few weeks.

Now that you know little more about conducting a successful intervention, we want to offer our assistance as well. We are an independent referral service that works with private rehab clinics, alcohol and drug charities, and support groups around the country. We would love the opportunity to speak with you about treatment options for your friend or loved one.

It is important you know what the options are before you conduct an intervention. If your friend or loved one decides to seek treatment after being confronted, you may only have a short amount of time to act before he or she changes their mind. By having treatment option information ahead of time, you will be ready to go a moment’s notice.

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