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How to Stage an Intervention

Diverse people discussing their problems with others seated in circle

Staging an intervention is one option for those wishing to help a loved one struggling with substance addiction. Its ultimate purpose is to encourage a loved one to seek treatment for their addiction. These suggestions for how to stage an intervention will ensure that this meeting is carefully planned and executed.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is a process by which those concerned about a loved one’s addiction plan a meeting with them to provide them with the opportunity to change their behavior via rehabilitation. The meeting also provides loved ones with the opportunity to express their concerns regarding their loved one’s behavior.

Interventions are typically decided on when an individual is in denial about their addiction, or they’re either reluctant or totally opposed to getting treatment.

What Happens During a Typical Drug and Alcohol Intervention?

An intervention is a meeting where loved ones are able to:

  • Communicate how their loved one’s destructive behavior has impacted them by using specific examples.
  • Present a detailed plan for treatment to their loved ones.
  • Clearly describe what each attendee will do should the individual not accept the treatment plan.

The Process

The staging of the intervention itself is the end result of much planning and organization.

Proposal and Planning

Typically, a friend or family member of the individual proposes that an intervention should be staged, and then forms a team of up to six people that will plan the event. It’s strongly suggested that this stage involves a professional. This professional can be any one of the following:

  • Social worker
  • Professional counselor
  • Interventionist
  • Psychologist
  • Addiction specialist
  • Mental health counselor

Information Gathering and Education

This next stage involves discussion among team members to determine their loved one’s extent and type of addiction. It includes conducting research into addiction itself, as well as their particular type of addiction.The group also investigates and chooses evaluation and treatment program options.

Choosing Participants and Setting a Date

The planning team then chooses which individuals will be present at the intervention and when and where it will take place. Discussions among team members include forming a plan for the structure of the intervention and how to ensure a clear and consistent message is delivered to their loved one.

Determining Actions and Impacts

At this stage of planning, each intervention participant will decide what kind of action they’ll take in the event their loved one refuses treatment. These actions will be communicated to the loved one at the intervention, and will be something that each participant is committed to following through with.

As well, each member should record specific incidents when their loved one’s addiction caused financial, emotional, and similar problems. They should be worded in a way that clearly communicates the impact of the behavior and expresses how much the person cares. They should also express the person’s expectation for and belief in their loved one’s ability to change.

How to Stage an Intervention for an Alcoholic or Substance User

Woman making notes in her notepad

It’s important that all of the following elements are included in the actual meeting.

Approach and Invitation

The individual should not know about the intervention until just before it occurs. They should be approached when sober and invited to the planned location.

Speaking and Presentation of Plan

Each participating member will take turns speaking to their loved one about their feelings and concerns. Once all members have finished, the treatment plan is presented, and the loved one is asked to accept it.

Before they make their decision, each participant once again takes turns, this time to express the actions they’ll take if their loved one doesn’t go through with treatment.

An Immediate Decision

The meeting should end with asking the individual to make an immediate decision about going to treatment. If they accept, be ready with the treatment evaluation programs identified in the planning stages.

If They Refuse

There’s also the possibility that a loved one won’t accept treatment; should this occur, the best route is to stick to the actions you defined in planning and to not enable your loved one to continue with their behavior.

Important Elements of a Successful Intervention

Along with proper and sufficient planning with a professional, a successful intervention will include several elements.

Team Members

Typically, those on the planning team will be those whom the loved one depends on, respects, admires, or loves. The team should not include anyone who is actively misusing a substance or someone your loved one doesn’t like.

They should be someone who will be able to communicate what they agreed to in the planning meeting, and nothing more. They should also be someone that the team trusts to support the process and see it through as planned.

The Meeting

The intervention itself should be held in a private location where your loved one will feel safe. The environment should not be one of blame, but of love and support. It can be helpful for participants to stage a mock intervention where everything can be rehearsed, including:

  • How each member will respond to their loved one’s reactions
  • How to avoid confrontation by being honest and not accusatory
  • The intervention plan, and how not to stray from it
  • Strategies for remaining calm and rational in the event their loved one becomes angry or tries to avoid responsibility

It’s also important for team members to discuss how they’ll react should their loved one decide not to accept treatment. Again, an environment free of blame is the goal, and everyone should be willing to communicate and stick to their chosen actions.

Each instance of anger or objection is best responded to with facts or offers of support. For example, if your loved one lashes out with anger about being confronted, a response could include the common symptoms of addiction and how many of these have been observed in the loved one.

Offer support should they give reasons to avoid treatment. For example, offering to find someone to provide child care while they’re in treatment will make it easier for them to go.

Finally, it’s important not to give your loved one time to make a decision about treatment; instead, ask that they decide immediately. This will eliminate continued denial or further withdrawal from their loved ones. If they refuse, stick to the actions you determined previously.

Support for Team Members Before, During, and After Interventions for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

support between two elderly people as they tenderly hold hands

All team members need to be willing to support each other through the process and actual intervention, sharing information and updates. However, they should also be prepared to support one another in being consistent with their decided-upon actions should their loved one refuse treatment.

Luxury Individualized Treatment

When planning an intervention, it’s important to consider those facilities which can offer a private setting with the focused care your loved one needs. Located in Sierra Madre, Dedicato Treatment Center is a Legit-Script-certified facility accredited by the Joint Commission, and licensed and certified by the State of California Department of Health Care Services. Dr. Keith Marshall specializes in interventions and how to motivate a person suffering from addiction to break through their patterns and get help.

We offer a three-to-one staff ratio for highly focused care, and our experts formulate individualized plans, conducting sessions in small groups for highly effective treatment. Call 626-921-0113 or visit us online for more information.