Addiction intervention

As a family member or friend, watching your loved one becoming entrenched in alcoholism, drug abuse, or another behavioural dependence can be a hopeless and overwhelming experience. By nurturing an open space to share these difficult feelings, interventions provide an opportunity to tactfully communicate with your loved one, expressing the ways in which their addiction has affected you.
At UKAT, we can advise you about conducting the intervention and get you in touch with the appropriate channels, such as a professional counsellor who will take the lead. Let’s have a look at interventions for addiction, exploring how they work, why they are implemented, and all the benefits that come from this process.

How do interventions work?

When we think of an intervention, one of the beautiful things about them is that they are always going to be unique and specific to the family that arranges it. If done correctly, the main takeaway from the intervention will be getting your loved one to seek treatment at a rehab clinic. This can be done by reminding them that the discussion is not being had out of resentment but rather of concern for the individual and just how out of control their addiction has become.

While some family members choose to conduct interventions by themselves, and others might choose to work with counsellors to make it happen, interventions for addiction will usually follow this basic structure:

  • A family member or friend will decide that it is time to organise an intervention to address their loved one’s problems with addiction.
  • They will then seek advice from an organisation like UKAT or connect with a private counsellor who will lead the process.
  • The organiser will then begin contacting family members and close friends who might be willing to participate.
  • A neutral site is selected, and the addict is invited to join the group for a frank discussion.
  • During the meeting, participants may address the addict one by one until all have had their say.
  • The intervention concludes by giving the addict a choice, either continuing things as they are, or accepting to seek treatment.

Conducting an intervention could be one of the best things you do in helping someone struggling with addiction. By getting involved in this process, you are demonstrating your genuine concern for the health and welfare of your loved one. Showing them that you care and will be with them every step of the way makes all the difference in giving them the strength and motivation to stop running from their problems and, instead, get help to solve them.

There are many ways to approach an intervention, and we have explored two common approaches taken by individuals take when addressing their loved one’s addiction below:

How addiction is causing harm to your loved one How their addiction is affecting others
Helping your loved one to recognise that their addictive behaviour is causing them harm. Approaching your loved one from the perspective of how their addiction is affecting others. 
The hope is that the addict will eventually realise they are becoming a danger to themselves. This can be done with a spouse to a partner, child to a parent or any supportive influence for the individual.
This knowledge may motivate them to agree to treatment. This approach may show your loved one just how affected you have been by their addiction and encourage them to agree to treatment.

Who should be invited to the intervention?

While there is no definitive answer to this question, making sure to include the right people in an intervention will increase your chances of success. Typically, an intervention will include a group of around five to eight people with close relationships with the person. This number will ensure that the meeting is not too large to handle, staying focused and not overwhelming for your loved one. Some common attendees could include:

  • Close friends
  • Co-workers
  • Parents
  • Other family members
  • Your loved ones’ mentor

When deciding who to ask to the intervention, it is also essential that you avoid inviting those who are over-emotional or feel an intense resentment or frustration towards your loved one. While it is understandable that addiction does not just affect the person suffering from the illness, it is likely they will hear some harsh truths during the discussion, and it would be ineffective to approach them with anything but care and support on this journey.

Tips for a Successful Intervention

There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of a successful intervention, some of which include:

Tip #1 Choose a private, formal spot

A successful intervention will take place in a private and formal setting that encourages both composure and calmness. For example, if the discussion was to take place in a home environment, your loved one might retreat to another room to avoid confrontation. In much the same way, choosing to hold the meeting in a very busy public space could unsettle your loved one, which is why you must respect their privacy and discuss these matters in a secluded space.

Tip #2 Pick a good time for the intervention

When deciding upon a time to conduct the intervention, it is important you ensure that your loved one will be in the best position to listen. For example, staging this meeting during the evening could increase the chances of them being under the influence of substances such as alcohol or drugs, or simply not up for such a serious conversation.

Tip #3 Go in with a plan

One of the biggest mistakes people make during an intervention is assumptions about who should talk and when. Instead, the individual leading the meeting should have a plan in place for who will be speaking and at what time. The person most affected by the addiction should be prioritised, as their words will hold the most weight. Having a plan will prevent individuals from losing control of the situation.

Tip #4 Rehearse the intervention

If possible, it’s a good idea to have a rehearsal intervention before the actual meeting. This will help to ensure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and say when the time comes. It will also give you a chance to practice your own delivery and ensure that nothing will be missed during the meeting.

Tip #5 Consult with a professional

An intervention will likely cultivate an emotionally charged atmosphere, one which can lead to a great deal of pain and anger if not properly organised. Choosing to arrange the process without a mediator will increase the likelihood of heightened emotions, losing the intended purpose of the intervention and instead becoming caught up in it all. Therefore, we would suggest that you contact an organisation that is familiar with the addiction your loved one is suffering from.

For example, if you are planning to arrange either a drug intervention or alcohol intervention, for example, it might be necessary to consult with a professional who is experienced with alcoholism or substance use disorder. This will ensure that they are aware of how to manage specific challenges and move things forward when the situation gets out of hand.

Tip #6 Choose a treatment centre ahead of time

If your loved one agrees to get help, it is also important that you have a rehabilitation centre ready to take them in. Prepare yourself ahead of time by doing some research into facilities that will best match their needs and requirements. At UKAT, we have a number of rehabilitation centres across the country, with a variety of treatment options. Selecting a rehab in advance means you give your loved one the best possible chance of success.

At UKAT, we can get you in touch with professional interventionists who can help you to plan and stage a successful intervention. During the meeting, they will guide your friends and family through their delivery so that everyone knows what to say when the time comes.

What happens after an intervention?

In an ideal world, your addicted loved one will listen to what everyone has to say and realise it is time to seek out professional support through a rehab programme. However, it is also important to set realistic expectations about what will happen during the meeting so that you don’t become discouraged if your loved one doesn’t immediately agree to get help.

If you are struggling to cope with a loved one’s addiction, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can help you to find the resources you need and guide you through the process of staging an intervention for addiction.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the four types of intervention?
There are four types of interventions, all available for different purposes. Simple and Classic interventions involve friends and family coming together to discuss their concerns about their loved one’s addiction. Family system intervention is available for families struggling with co-dependency, and Crisis interventions happen immediately and in response to a loved one putting themselves in dangerous situations.
Do interventions work?
If you are a family member or friend of someone suffering from addiction, you might want to learn more about whether they are successful. While interventions do have a high success rate in terms of getting addicts to seek treatment, you should know that just because your addicted loved one might agree to access help, there is no guarantee that he or she will agree to accept treatment.
Should I only stage an intervention if my loved one has hit rock bottom?
While it was once accepted within the arena of addiction recovery that a person must reach ‘rock bottom’ before being treated, experience and research show that this is not the case. We have learned that, with some help, facing problems before things get too bad can be incredibly useful.