If someone that you love is struggling with substance abuse, it can be hard to know how to help. Before you consider something as drastic as an intervention, chances are that you have tried everything else you can think of. You may have tried to shield your loved one from the consequences of their addiction by loaning them money or bailing them out of trouble. Or you may have taken a tough love approach and tried to impose consequences for their actions. An intervention is when the addict's loved ones come together as a unified team, presenting the addict with some clear boundaries and a last opportunity to seek help. Here are a few tips that can help you organize a successful intervention.
Don't Invite Everyone
When you see an intervention on television, it can sometimes seem like an event that involves a whole extended family and many friends as well. But in real life, it can be good to limit the guest list a little. The people that the addict has the closest relationships with are the ones who belong at the intervention.
When people who have a particularly strained relationship with the addict are at the intervention, the addict is likely to interpret their contributions as more of the same arguments that they've already had, and simply tune out what they have to say. For the purposes of the intervention, it's best to stick with people who are still on fairly friendly terms with the addict. You'll have a better chance of getting the message across.
Stick to a Script
It's very important to plan out what each person should say to the addict during the intervention, and even to practice ahead of time. You don't want your words to sound rehearsed, but you do want to make sure that your words are very carefully chosen, and saying them out loud ahead of time can help you ensure that you have chosen the right words.
The usual method is to write your thoughts in a letter to the addict, and have the other members of the intervention do the same. You should tell the addict how their addiction is affecting their life and your life negatively, and what your new boundaries will be. For example, you may tell them that if they continue to abuse substances, you will no longer give them money, allow them in your home, or even communicate with them at all. Don't deviate from your chosen script during the intervention. When you ad-lib, it increases the chances that you'll say something that you'll regret later.
Consider a Professional Interventionist
Addiction is a condition that affects not only the addict, but also everyone in close proximity to the addict. For this reason, it's sometimes called a family disease. Often, the addict is not the only one who needs treatment – other members of the family may need treatment to help them deal with their co-dependency or develop healthier relationship behaviors.
For this reason, it is a good idea to consider bringing in a professional interventionist to help with the intervention. A trained professional can help identify the needs of other family members and direct them to services that can help them as well. They can also help keep the intervention from veering off course and increase your chances of success.
Dealing with an addiction in the family can be scary, but even if things look bleak, there is always hope for recovery. An intervention followed by access to a good substance abuse treatment program can help restore your loved one's health and heal your relationship.