Maybe you are a family member, like a brother or sister, or a close friend from work or childhood. You have been observing your loved one’s drug or alcohol use and noticed that it has become more frequent and heavy. Their behavior is starting to impact your mental and emotional well-being, and you know you can’t just turn a blind eye.
Although they might not know it, the individual struggling with the addiction needs help and support to get better. Carefully planned by family and friends, a substance abuse intervention can get the individual to realize it’s time to detox and start a residential treatment program. This article will describe the features of an intervention and how family and friends will know when it’s time to have the talk.
What Is an Intervention?
An intervention is a meeting that family members and friends have planned out to speak to a loved one about their drug or alcohol addiction. The discussion is focused on getting the individual to realize they have a problem, but they also have a strong support system to assist them. The main goal of the meeting is to get the individual to say “yes” to entering a treatment program. It is critical that this event is carefully thought out and that participants agree on the approach that will be taken.
It’s Time to Sit Down & Talk
It can be hard to know if and when you should intervene in another’s substance use. You may have an inkling that something is not right, but perhaps you are afraid to make assumptions and exaggerate the situation. A part of you may even hope there is no problem at all. It can be very overwhelming.
You can feel a little more confident in your intuition when certain signs become apparent. For example, is your loved one engaging in self-destructive behavior that is putting themselves and others at significant risk of harm? Have you caught them hiding or lying about substance use? An addiction can cause a person to become deceptive and sneaky. They may start to steal and ask for money. Their personal hygiene and physical health may become noticeably neglected.
A more obvious indication that it is time to have an intervention is if your loved one has had a trip (or more) to the ER because of their use. If they’ve overdosed or gotten arrested with a DUI multiple times, it’s definitely time to take action. Even if things haven’t gotten this far yet, intervening now can help prevent the worst from occurring.
The Conversation: Focus on Solutions
As much as possible, the tone of the intervention should remain positive and forward-looking. Nevertheless, the team will still need to prepare for an important but tense part of the conversation. Explaining how your loved one’s problem impacts everyone’s mental and emotional health can be perceived as blaming and cause the individual to feel guilt and shame.
Members need to make it clear that they understand addiction for what it is: a chronic disease that causes changes in the brain leading to negative behaviors that are largely outside of the individual’s control. Once you establish this transparency, you can shift the focus to suggesting detox and rehabilitation as a hopeful solution to their condition that has everyone’s support.
Things to Avoid Saying or Doing
Anyone participating in the intervention must be on the same page about how it will be conducted. Members should avoid being spontaneous and overly emotional in what they say and how they say it. These meetings can be intense, and hurtful things can easily slip out if you aren’t careful. Avoid antagonism and hostility at all costs because the individual who needs help can end up withdrawing from embarrassment and leave the meeting.
In addition, the timing and location of the gathering should be set and not random. Maintaining some order and organization can help everyone stick to their script and avoid spiraling down a rabbit hole of blaming or making assumptions about the person’s substance use. Keep these tips in mind when planning an intervention:
Consider the participants carefully. Who can stay calm and concise without becoming overly emotional or negative? Members who have been harmed may express anger and make the process unproductive.
Make sure the individual is sober. They need to be thinking as clearly as possible so they can respond to the offer of treatment with a “yes” or “no.”
Pick a location other than home. Public spaces can force everyone to maintain their composure. It also puts a time limit on the meeting.
Plan and practice the discussion. Who will lead the discussion? What are the speaking points? This delicate situation requires thought into how the individual will react.
Do not inflict guilt or shame. Your loved one likely feels bad enough without more negativity. Don’t emotionally manipulate them into saying yes to treatment.
Be specific about situations that have hurt you. Specific examples of how you’ve been affected by their behavior have more of an emotional impact and provide clarity.
Do not negotiate or bargain about treatment. An addiction can cause a person to be deceptive so they can keep using. They might not even think they’re sick. Don’t be fooled. Insist on a yes/no answer.
Get a professional’s assistance. If the individual refuses treatment, there are other approaches that involve a professional interventionist or other resources. Don’t give up!
When carefully planned by family and friends, a substance abuse intervention can get your loved one to realize that it’s time to get treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. However, it can be tricky to know if, when, and how you should intervene. As the Big Island’s leading substance abuse treatment facility, Hawaii Island Recovery is well-versed in treating a diverse set of addictions. Your loved one can take their first step towards recovery by detoxing safely and comfortably under the supervision of our board-certified addictionologist. Our experienced clinicians will properly tend to the patient’s physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. After detox, they will transition into residential treatment for 30 to 90 days, depending on their needs. Here, they will work with clinicians to develop a customized treatment plan that outlines their path to recovery. They can also connect with and learn from other patients’ experiences. Call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.