Watching someone you care about suffer from an addiction problem is never easy. Perhaps the toughest part is the feeling of being powerless after many failed attempts at intervening. Holding a group intervention is a good way to show that there are multiple people who care about the addict’s wellbeing, and in many cases it is even more effective than having a person-to-person talk. However, not all interventions result in an ideal outcome, especially if it is not well-planned. With that said, at Choices Recovery we stand by the following five tips to maximize the chances of staging an effective intervention:
1. Choose a Relaxing Environment
First and foremost, you want the intervention to take place in a space that is going to be comfortable for the target of the intervention. Make sure that only people close to the addict will be present, as including outsiders could make the atmosphere awkward and cause embarrassment. The spot needs to be private and preferably somewhere the addict has become accustomed to, like a friend or relative’s house.
2. Plan the Message Delivery
Choose the person closest to the addict to deliver the message that “this is an intervention, and we all have some things we’d like to say to you.” It might be a good idea to hangout and converse for a while before breaking into the intervention. It’s very important that the meeting is started in a calm and caring manner, while letting the addict know that it is for their benefit.
3. Bring Your Emotions to the Table
You don’t want to make an addict feel as though they’re being condemned or judged for their behavior, as that will only lead to additional depression which continues the downward spiral. Go into the intervention ready to show how much you care, and don’t be afraid to let loose a few tears or heartfelt speeches to make it known. Ultimately, emotional interventions have a higher chance of making lasting impressions than dry and judgmental bouts.
4. Use Ultimatums
Everyone at the intervention should prepare an ultimatum that they’re going to use to persuade the addict to take action. For example, a significant other could threaten to end the relationship, or restrict access to the children, if help is not sought. Parents can threaten to withdraw all financial support, etc. Ultimatums can seem aggressive and unkind, but sometimes a bit of tough love is the only way to make a person understand the gravity of their choices.
5. Follow Through
Finally, remember that the intervention does not stop after the initial meeting. It’s a team effort that should continue until the addict has recovered enough to regain self control and stability. Following through and following up are two of the most important things you can do to make sure the intervention is not a wasted effort.
Be Sympathetic Rather than Confrontational
One of Choice Recovery’s founders, Per Wickstrom, would like to remind you that the attitude and approach you take going into the intervention will also play a huge role in how receptive the individual will be. “Don’t make it an argument or a blame game. Instead, use it as an opportunity to show the person how much you care about their safety and future.”