How to stage an intervention
A 10-Step Method for Family Members

It can be extremely challenging to help a close friend or family member suffering with an addiction. A heart-to-heart conversation can be the first step toward eventual recovery; a focussed intervention can therefore help begin the process of fighting an addiction.
This initial step, however, is often a difficult one for everybody involved. People suffering from an addiction are likely to be in denial and may be unwilling to seek treatment. A professional interventionist may be necessary to guide the conversation toward a constructive outcome.

What is an intervention?

An intervention is a staged conversation between someone who is suffering from an addiction and their close family and friends, often including a professional interventionist as well. The aim of the intervention is to convince the addicted person to seek help, setting clear goals for recovery and rehabilitation. The role of the intervention specialist is to help motivate the addicted person to change their ways – and also to support his or her loved ones through these difficult moments.

When is the right time to stage an intervention?

It can be a very difficult decision to approach someone who may be suffering with an addiction. Although loved ones mean well, the sufferer may be in a stage of self-denial and may resist the intervention. Despite warning signs which may be obvious from the outside, and/or an increase in harmful behaviour, many people suffering from addiction are adamant that they have their situation under control.
For this reason, it is important to become familiar with the symptoms of addiction, which include the following characteristics and personal tendencies (among others):
  • Physical attributes, such as weight loss, pale and undernourished skin, red pupils, and poor hygiene
  • Behavioural attributes, such as problems at work or school, being secretive, engaging in dangerous behaviours, and getting into financial trouble
  • Social attributes, such as losing interest in other people or activities, failing to carry out one’s responsibilities, and having problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Psychological attributes, such as increasing amounts of substance use, being irritable, rationalising or minimising substance use, and acting defensively
While the decision to opt for an intervention can be incredibly challenging, the fact remains that intervening at an early stage can have a profoundly positive impact on the overall treatment and recovery process.

Who should be on the intervention team?

An intervention team should ideally be made up of family members, close friends, an intervention specialist, and a counsellor. To ensure a consistent and uniform approach, the intervention team will plan the intervention before proceeding with the first stage.
When choosing the appropriate intervention team members, you should consider excluding the following people:
  • Anyone your loved one may dislike
  • Those with underlying unmanaged mental health issues or substance abuse problems
  • Those who may lack commitment to the process
  • People who have low levels of empathy, tolerance, and patience
While the intervention specialist will take the lead in the intervention, it is crucial that all members of an intervention team play an active role in the process. Teamwork is an essential part of the intervention process, because this combination of effort can preserve information, drive motivation, and lead to more mature decisions.
Teamwork Join Hands Support Together Concept. Sports People Joining Hands.

What should you do (and avoid) in an intervention?

Avoid the blame game and confrontation. Anyone who has resorted to substance misuse is likely to be emotionally unstable and suffering from many symptoms that can exacerbate mental health conditions. It is therefore vital that the addicted person is made to feel at ease and that their wishes are respected.
It is worth keeping in mind that numerous people suffering from an addiction may also have co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Participants should rehearse in detail and plan for any eventuality, so that the intervention group is fully prepared.

How can you ensure a successful intervention?

To ensure that the intervention is successful, you must pay special attention toward recognising your loved one’s emotions as they arise. The process of formulating and adopting an intervention plan can lead to resentment and anger, but a combination of patience, perseverance, and following a well-thought-out plan should lead to a successful intervention.
To help quicken the intervention process, it is often best not to give your loved one time to dwell on the offer of treatment. Allowing them time to think about the offer could result in further denials, and your loved one potentially avoiding the whole recovery effort or going on a dangerous binge.
If done well, an intervention can motivate your loved one to make a life-changing decision. But first, they will need to know that they have your full support on their journey. Following a clear and effective process is the best way to ensure the smooth adoption of long-term recovery goals.

Step-by-step intervention process

The essential steps of staging an intervention generally includes the following:

How can a professional interventionist help?

We believe that all interventions benefit from the inclusion of a qualified outside party, such as a professional interventionist or counsellor. Professional interventionists are experienced in dealing with difficult situations, like determining when to approach a loved one about going into rehab, or encouraging them to face their problems. The interventionist will also act as a point of communication for all parties at the intervention.
Interventionists can offer succinct and direct advice in challenging situations, which will be of help to all parties in the intervention group. With their help and guidance, you will be able to set expectations and recovery goals for your loved one.
Are you considering intervention for a loved one? Contact us today for a confidential discussion with our specialists, about staging an intervention and locating a professional interventionist in your area.
Author
Brett Thornton
Counsellor

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