7 Things to Consider Before Setting Up an Intervention  

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Setting up an intervention for a loved one is no easy task. You may be incredibly worried about their well-being and coming from a place of love, while also questioning if you’re making the right choice. You may also be asking yourself if an intervention might push them away from seeking treatment and deeper into their addiction. 

These are all valid concerns. It’s important to consider the situation individually and weigh a number of factors before setting up an intervention to ensure your loved one is successful in overcoming their battle with addiction.

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What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a planned process whereby an addiction professional — interventionist, doctor, or addictions counsellor — facilitates a discussion between a person struggling with substances and their concerned family members.

The objective of the discussion is to raise concerns and confront the loved one about the effects of their substance use. 

Oftentimes an intervention is held by an intervention specialist who may draw on facilitation methods such as ARISE, SMART, or Johnson Model.

Whatever the method, the common steps involved in setting up an intervention include:

  • Providing specific examples of how your loved one’s using is destructive and the effects it is having on them and the family
  • Outlining boundaries that family members may set if the loved one refuses treatment
  • A clearly defined treatment plan, such as a treatment center they can go to and who can accompany them there. 

Things to Consider Before Setting Up an Intervention

To ensure the success of any intervention, it’s important to consider a number of factors before setting one up, including:

  1. Check your intentions: Ensure the motivation of the intervention is centered around supporting an individual struggling with an addictive behavior, not the opportunity to list the ways they have created harm. It is a loving and solution-oriented process not one that emotionally bashes or abuses the loved one.
  2. Do your research: Before setting up an intervention, you need to be knowledgeable about substance use and the factors that may indicate your loved one has a problem. An intervention may be necessary if your loved one (and possibly the family) is experiencing negative effects of their substance use; remains unable to control their use, they are in denial of the negative effects of substance use, or if their use is having a negative impact on day-to-day life. 
  3. Use a professional: Hosting an intervention can be overwhelming. There is a lot to organize and it is often a highly emotive situation. That’s why it’s often a smart decision to use a professional during an intervention, as they can guide you through the process, act as a neutral party, and keep all members focused on the goal of supporting the loved one. The other benefits of using a professional is that they’re not emotionally involved with the person struggling or under any kind of coercion to do what the family wants. They are simply there to facilitate the discussion toward a resolution.
  4. Plan ahead: Never set up an intervention at the last minute. Take your time to plan the intervention and collect/arrange all of the people and material that the interventionist might think will support this process. You’ll also need to think about who is going to speak, when each person will arrive, where you’ll hold the intervention, what steps you’ll take if your loved one agrees to treatment, and what you’ll do if they don’t. This can take several weeks.
  5. Share information: Once you have planned the intervention and selected family members to attend, share your concerns with each other and any other relevant information. This ensures that you’re a cohesive front when confronting your loved one.
  6. Assign roles: When sharing information, this might be an opportunity to assign tasks to each family member. For example, tasks like: researching treatment centers and calling them to see where there is availability and if they take your loved ones insurance; figuring out childcare arrangements for the loved one’s children; and speaking to your loved one’s employer (anonymously) to find out their policy for an employee needing to attend treatment. 
  7. Anticipate their objections: It is highly likely that your loved one may object to the intervention and the idea that they should go to treatment. Remember, denial is a common feature of addiction. This isn’t an opportunity to blame or ridicule, instead think of potential objections and have solid reasons to counter them. For example, your loved one might say: “But I only drink on weekends,” to which you could contend: “Yes, but this impacts your work the next day and you’ve had X days off this year, meaning you could lose your job. You’re also failing to help out with childcare when you promised you would, which means I’ve been late to work after taking the kids to school. The effect of this is a strain on our marriage and my employer’s patience. To make up for my tardiness, I often have to work late, putting me home even later.”

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If you or someone you love is experiencing a substance use disorder, help is available. Call (800) 407-7195(Who Answers?) today to speak with a treatment specialist.

 

the Take-Away

Setting up an intervention for a loved one is no easy task. You may be incredibly worried about their well-being and coming from a place of love, while also questioning if you’re making the right choice. You may also be asking yourself if an intervention might push them away from seeking treatment and deeper into …