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What is an Intervention?

Sep 5, 2021

You may have heard the word “intervention” repeatedly used in the addiction community and still not know exactly what it involves or how one looks. What is an intervention? It can feel like a major undertaking to initiate an important change in the life of someone you know with a drinking or drug problem.

But, with some proper help and planning time, an intervention can be an effective way to get through to a friend or loved one in need of treatment.

Planning an intervention for someone in need of drug or alcohol rehab can feel like a daunting task. It’s important to reach out to other people so you can form a team of participants.

Each person already should have a meaningful relationship with the person who needs treatment. Roleplaying the intervention is a helpful way to let team members practice what they want to say. You can also use a rehearsal as a way to determine what order speakers should go in.

Keeping expectations realistic along the way is valuable. One talk may not be enough to convince your loved one to commit to treatment. It’s recommended to seek support and guidance from an experienced family mediator before hosting your intervention.

Don’t go it alone.

An intervention should be a team activity. While one person may serve as a leader, it’s essential to choose people who can serve in other roles as well. These may be people who have different types of relationships with the person needing the intervention.

Being a member of the same immediate family doesn’t automatically qualify someone to be part of the team. Choose people who have a meaningful connection already in place. Invite people who are willing to participate. There will be time to welcome other people to support the recovery work later.

Protect the privacy of the person involved.

A successful intervention begins with remembering the person struggling with addiction is entitled to privacy during the process. Their need for help isn’t something to publicize to people who are not part of the intervention team or discuss with strangers.

The focus on privacy should also shape any decisions on when and where the intervention takes place. To further put a person at ease, you may want to turn off all phones and let them know that this conversation isn’t being recorded and shared with anyone else.

Roleplay the intervention first.

There’s no benefit in just seeing how it goes without rehearsing the intervention in some way. Since there’s no script to begin with, you can evaluate how people on the team approach their contributions in a roleplaying session. By hearing what everyone wants to say, you can also determine an order for people who will be speaking. Each member of the team can take a turn roleplaying as the person needing the intervention and be directed to respond authentically.

Develop a script from the rehearsals.

It can be natural to drift away from the main points a team member wants to make when the intervention is actually happening. But, that can dilute the message or take it off topic.

It’s beneficial if each person creates a list of what they want to share and sticks to the list. It can be written down for a quick visual reference as someone is talking. It’s not a performance that needs to be memorized. It’s an authentic share and some people may need the notes in front of them to stay on track.

Request feedback from the other team members during a rehearsal.

Feedback can focus on two topics: the spoken words and the subtext. Word choice can affect how a person responds during the intervention. Using kind and respectful words is important. Also, using a tone that conveys a sense of love and care works better than a critical tone.

Body language is part of the behavior of communication. Facing the person and making eye contact is helpful. You want each person to look relaxed with their legs and arms uncrossed as they speak and as they listen to others speaking.

Know the goal of an intervention.

Your team’s goal should be getting the loved one to accept the need for treatment and to commit to starting it. It’s not about forcing them to accept your viewpoints or expecting them to immediately comply with your wishes. It’s a step in a larger process to get them on the path to healing. Getting the optimum results can take time so keep expectations realistic.

Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.


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