Because substance use disorders are often stigmatized as a moral failing instead of being recognized as biologically based illnesses, it’s very common for people who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction to insist that they don’t have a problem. The goal of an intervention is to break through this denial to encourage the individual to take the necessary steps toward recovery.
In this post, the treatment team at Waypoint Recovery Center’s South Carolina residential addiction treatment program outlines the steps involved in planning an intervention. Use these steps to help support your loved one’s recovery journey.
Step 1: Assess the Extent of the Problem
The first step in any intervention process is to evaluate the extent of the person’s drug or alcohol abuse. Concerned family members and friends should come together to share information about the individual’s addiction, such as the substances being abused, the duration of the addiction, factors such as a struggle with chronic pain that may be contributing to the problem, and any previous treatment attempts.
In this planning stage, meeting with a professional interventionist may be helpful. An interventionist can assist in organizing the intervention, provide education on addiction, and manage potential conflicts or emotional challenges. Professional guidance is strongly recommended if your loved one has mental health issues that could cause them to lash out when confronted.
Step 2: Learn About How Addiction Is Treated
For an intervention to be successful, the intervention team needs to understand the nature of addiction, the best practices for effective treatment, and how stigma affects the recovery process. This helps participants approach the intervention with empathy and understanding.
Education also helps ensure that everyone is committed to the intervention process and willing to support the individual through treatment and recovery. If some friends or family members start to realize that they’re not equipped to be involved in the intervention process, let them back out now. The intervention team needs to present a unified front to maximize their chances of success.
As part of the education step, you’ll want to research available treatment options for your loved one. If you are working with a professional interventionist, they can help with this process. Alternatively, you can speak with the facility directly. Contact us to be connected with a member of the Waypoint Recovery Center team.
Step 3: Set Boundaries for Your Loved One
An intervention needs to have consequences if the individual refuses treatment. Boundaries may include:
Refusing to “cover” or make excuses for your loved one when they fail to fulfill their responsibilities
Cutting off both direct and indirect financial support
Ending enabling behaviors such as paying for a lawyer when your loved one gets in legal trouble because of their addiction
Setting limits on interaction until your loved one seeks help
Boundaries should be clearly communicated during the intervention. These consequences should be significant enough to motivate your loved one to seek help while still being realistic and enforceable.
Step 4: Hold the Intervention
The intervention should be held at a date, time, and location that is comfortable for and familiar to the individual who is struggling with substance abuse. Ideally, you should choose a time when the person is most likely to be sober. The goal is to create a safe and supportive environment where your loved one can recognize the impact of their addiction and the need for change.
During the intervention, each participant should take a turn expressing their feelings, observations, and concerns about the individual’s addiction. They should use “I” statements to focus on their own experiences rather than blaming or shaming the individual. Instead of repeating general arguments against substance abuse, they should be encouraged to share specific instances where the addiction has caused harm, such as damaged relationships, legal problems, or health issues. Then, they should stress that they are committed to helping to support their loved one throughout the recovery process.
Step 5: Follow Up
If your loved one agrees to seek help during the intervention, the intervention team should assist them in obtaining immediate treatment. It is important to act quickly to ensure the individual’s commitment to treatment doesn’t waver. In many cases, the intervention team will already have a bag packed so the individual can head straight to the treatment facility.
If your loved one does not agree to seek addiction treatment, the members of the intervention team need to be prepared to enforce the boundaries they have set. They may wish to participate in counseling or therapy sessions to address their own emotional needs and understand how to best continue to urge the individual to seek help. Support groups, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, can also help provide a space to share their experiences and learn from others facing similar challenge