It can be extremely difficult to watch a loved one suffering from addiction, particularly as many people don’t know how to offer the help and support needed. It may come as a surprise to know that a significant proportion of people receiving addiction treatment did not choose to enter rehab voluntarily.

Alcohol and drug intervention programs are increasingly being used as tools to get individuals to enter treatment who are probably unaware of the extent of their problems. Although alcohol and drug abuse interventions are quite a well-known method of achieving this goal, there are five things to bear in mind before organizing one which we take a look at in this article.

1. What Is a Drug Intervention Program?

Essentially, an intervention is an informal or sometimes formal meeting of friends and family that is attended by a drug intervention specialist. It is always a good idea to involve a qualified drug intervention specialist, as they are almost always emotionally charged events.

During the intervention, the discussion centers around the damage done to loved ones as a consequence of their addictive behavior. Ultimately, the event should be designed to educate the individual on the reality of their situation while providing them with the solution of rehab treatment.

2. When Is an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Intervention Needed?

It is always important to ensure an individual is actually struggling with substance abuse before arranging a drug intervention program. There are some general warning signs a person will display when they are abusing drugs or alcohol including:

  • They are having financial, professional or legal difficulties as a consequence
  • They are unable to moderate their use or quit altogether despite making attempts to
  • They fail to see the consequences of their substance abuse, particularly for their loved ones
  • They become defensive or even aggressive when challenged on their substance abuse
  • They are in denial that a problem exists and remain in denial despite the entreaties of loved ones

Addiction manifests itself as a very selfish condition and very often it is necessary to confront individuals with the harsh realities in order to help them.

3. Who Is Involved in an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Intervention?

Interventions usually involve a combination of the person’s friends, family, and loved ones. Very often a neutral and qualified third-party is involved such as a drug intervention specialist, counselors, therapists, sponsors or other addiction professionals.

When organizing drug intervention programs, make sure the right people are chosen to take part. Everyone involved in the event should have been impacted in some way by the individual’s substance abuse. This is to provide them with an opportunity to detail the way they’ve been hurt and to issue an ultimatum. For example, partners and spouses may say that they will consider separation as the next step unless the individual seeks treatment.

4. How Do I Plan an Intervention?

Planning a strategy for an intervention is crucial to its success. Each participant should know exactly what they need to say and this should be written down ahead of the event. When planning an intervention, the following should be considered:

The location: It is always a good idea to choose a location that is both familiar and comfortable with the individual. Taking them to a public place could have a detrimental effect.

The information: There’s no point in staging an intervention if the organizers aren’t educated as much as possible about the specific addiction of their loved one. In order to make concise points and convey them clearly, researching the nature of addiction before the event takes place is important.

The message: As mentioned above, everyone participating should write down what they’re going to say ahead of time. They should also be careful about the language used so they don’t come across aggressively and apportion blame for everything on their addicted loved one. Keep it simple and yet powerfully convey exactly how the person’s drinking or drug-taking has made you feel. Remember to make it clear what the consequences will be if the individual doesn’t seek treatment.

The follow-up: The goals of a drug intervention program aren’t achieved when it is over and the individual is in rehab. It is vital to follow up on all the conditions applied on the individual to make sure they are keeping to every detail of the deal. If they have skipped rehab, follow-through on your ultimatums and roll out the consequences as set out in the intervention.

The worst case: When planning an intervention, you should factor in the worst-case scenarios. It is very possible that the individual will remain in denial despite hearing about the hurt they’ve caused. Some may even be in such an addictive spiral that they may lash out angrily, causing further damage to close relationships. Ultimatums issued in interventions have to have an impact on the addicted individual for them to be guided towards rehab.

5. Why Do Interventions Sometimes Fail?

Drug intervention programs are never guaranteed to be successful although according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), over 90% of those attended by drug intervention specialists do. There are many reasons why interventions fail including the following:

  • Poor planning and preparation
  • Choosing a location that’s not comfortable for the individual
  • Staging the intervention when the person is under the influences of drugs or alcohol
  • Not approaching them on a one-to-one basis before staging the event
  • Being judgmental, confrontational, angry or ashamed of the addict
  • Not following-up on ultimatums issued during the event
  • Failing to seek the assistance of an intervention professional
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