HOW TO DO AN INTERVENTION: 6 USEFUL TIPS
At any given time, there are more than 23 million people in the U.S. dealing with an addiction of some kind.
There are also 23 million ways of dealing with addiction that take into consideration the needs and interests of the people dealing with this disease. If you want to help, you could study how to hold an intervention to help get in between your loved one and their addiction.
Here are the steps for how to do an intervention that works and gets your loved one on the path to recovery.
1. FIND A PLACE AHEAD OF TIME
Finding the right time and place to talk is key to holding your intervention. You might want to find a home or an apartment, but you might be better off in someone’s office after hours. Depending on the conditions of the addiction and the person you’re dealing with, you’ll have to decide what time and place seem most neutral.
Avoid reacting immediately after a holiday or a major incident related to the addiction. Give everyone some time to blow off steam.
If your loved one would be more comfortable holding the event in the home of a loved and trust member of your family or circle of friends, consider that. However, if it was the site of a major incident or of a traumatic experience, that could all be tied to the addiction. If your loved one has an addiction related to a traumatic experience, making them talk about it in a triggering space could have negative effects.
Find somewhere private and formal instead. A rented office space or community room could be the answer. If there are no previous associations with the space, everyone could feel equally neutral and comfortable there.
2. SELECT AND PREP YOUR SPEAKERS
You need to select the people who you want to speak wisely. While you might go with obvious choices like parents or a spouse, that might be the wrong way to go. If the addiction is related to or in a reaction to something one of them did, it can be hard for your loved one to speak in front of them.
Find people who your loved one cares about unconditionally and who have been impacted by the addiction. If they’ve had a reciprocal relationship of abuse or aggression, that makes them a bad candidate.
Run them through the order of things and get them to write rigid scripts of how things will go. Remind them to maintain open body language so they are always being warm and inviting to your loved one.
There should be an order and an agenda. Comments should be short and concise and the order must be adhered to. Breaking from the order will cause emotional outbursts, chaos, and a failure of this intervention.
3. NEVER ATTACK
Remember to never blame your loved one for their addiction. You were hurt by your loved one and the things their addiction caused. Stay focused on the addiction, as that’s the element you want to leave behind.
Attacking your loved one could cause them to become withdrawn and to be less willing to engage in a dialogue. This is an important reason to have everyone create scripts. Have your speakers read their scripts out loud to themselves and a friend to make sure their language is clear but not antagonistic.
When you leave the room, you want the addiction to feel unwelcome, not your loved one. Your goal needs to be to dismantle the addiction, not to leave your loved one behind.
Give your loved one space at the end to speak.
4. SPEAK FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES
When it comes time for everyone to speak, remind them to not speak on behalf of someone else. Saying “this is hurting your mother” on behalf of their mother is a big no-no.
Speaking from your own experiences gives you authority over your experience. When you speak on behalf of someone else, you’re opening the whole issue up for interpretation.
You want things to be clear and you want them to have results. The only way to do that is to stick to what you know, which is what you’ve been through.
5. HOLD A REHEARSAL
You’re going to need to hold a rehearsal for this. Everyone will likely get emotional, whether they want to or not. Once they start recounting their experiences with their loved one’s addiction, they’ll become overwhelmed. The more times they read their scripts, the less emotional they’ll be.
When you hold a rehearsal, you also get a chance to listen to what they have to say. Scrutinize their testimonials for moments that sound like they’re blaming your loved one. Listen for phrases that seem to speak on behalf of someone else.
Be discerning and honest with your friends and family when you think they’re out of line.
6. COME WITH OPTIONS AND AN OPEN HEART
When it comes time for the intervention, you’re going to need some options available to your loved one. If there is a program or two that you find, write down the location and the details.
If your loved one wants to act today, you should give them the opportunity by being aware of what’s available.
Have an open heart the entire time. Your loved one will make mistakes. They will slip up. They will rely on you to be in their corner through thick and thin.
LEARNING HOW TO DO AN INTERVENTION TAKES PRACTICE
When you’re trying to figure out how to do an intervention, you’re going to need to give yourself some time to practice and some room to make mistakes. Not everyone gets it right the first time and you might end up upsetting your loved one and having them storm out. So long as you practice and make a contingency plan, you should be able to keep your loved one attentive and open to the intervention.
If you or your loved one needs help letting go of the past and moving forward, check out our guide to make sure you start off on the right foot.