Preparing for an Intervention

Interventions can be formal or informal. Technically, any time one or more people seek to make a strong impression on another person in an attempt to redirect their path, both inside and outside of the context of addiction, this action can be considered an informal intervention. This article primarily focuses on how to prepare for a formal intervention for drug addiction or alcoholism.

Formal interventions usually involve the combined efforts of family and friends of an addict or alcoholic and are often led by a professional intervention specialist.

How Can I Prepare for an Intervention? Find an interventionist, if you plan to use one: Interventionists are trained professionals who specialize in guiding families through the confrontation of an addict. An interventionist will be able to step in and redirect the meeting if the family does not know how to respond to the addict (Read Why You Shouldn’t Fight Addiction Alone) or is too emotional to do so. Many interventionists have firsthand experience with addiction, either in their personal lives or that of a family member, and can truly empathize with the situation while remaining firm with the addict. The interventionist can also provide custom-tailored guidance as to who should be at the intervention and what should be said to this specific addict or alcoholic by meeting with and coaching the family and friends before the intervention occurs.

Imagine hypothetical situations – and accept them: This is really a 2-part step. First, you need to prepare yourself mentally by imagining the many ways in which your loved one will respond to the intervention. Will they be furious and leave before you can say what you need to? Will they say nasty things about you and try to make themselves look like the victim? Will they listen patiently, but deny the help that you are offering in the end? Perhaps they will be resistant, but your love and persistence will win them over. Any of these situations are possible, but trying to get them help will be better for both you and the addict than doing nothing and continuing to ignore the problem. Doing this mental exercise may help you numb your emotions to the addict’s potential responses – responses that you may not want to hear. You may need to speak with a therapist or the interventionist if you are having a hard time accepting that the addict may say “no.” You need to separate yourself mentally and physically, and realize that the addict is an adult who has the right to choose the addiction just as you have the right to decide to move on with your life (Read 5 Signs of Co-Dependency).

Commit to moving on with your life: Regardless of what the addict decides, it will be time for you to move on with your life. This may be difficult and painful, but accommodating the addict any more will only enable the addiction (Read Are You an Enabler?). Draft a plan for how you will or will not respond to the addict every time they ask you for something if they refuse help.

Write your request to the addict: Many addicts suffer from self-esteem problems (Read How Addicts Think), so phrasing your request in a critical way may trigger a defensive response. Think of times that you enjoyed spending with the addict before the addiction took over their life. Emphasize how much you love them, how proud you are of their accomplishments, and how you want them to reach their full potential. Tell them how their addiction has affected you emotionally and in other ways as well (e.g., financially, spiritually, etc.). Be honest, be loving – but be firm. Explain how your relationship with them will change if they choose the addiction over the help that you are offering. When you’ve finished drafting your request, have another family member and/or the interventionist look it over and make suggestions. Always remember that you are trying to get help for someone you love who is very sick.

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