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How Do You Stage An Intervention?

Millions of people are impacted by a substance use disorder (SUD), or full fledged substance addiction, here in the United States every year. For friends and family of those suffering from addiction, it can be debilitating watching your loved one struggle. It often leaves people wondering what they can do to help their loved one get better. Those who have first hand experience with this know how hard it can be to really help someone struggling with any type of addiction. It isn’t always as simple as sitting down with someone struggling with addiction and bluntly stating that they need help. Oftentimes the person with a problem doesn’t see it as an issue and won’t acknowledge it as such. This can be frustrating for those loved ones who are just trying to help and want to see their family member or friend get better.


So how can someone convince their loved one to seek the treatment they so desperately need? An intervention is often viewed as a last resort, and one that doesn’t have a high success rate. It is important to understand that while it may seem this way, a properly staged intervention can be a powerful tool and often is the final push someone needs to acknowledge they have a problem and seek treatment.


What is an intervention?

An intervention is a carefully planned process with the help of close friends and family of the person suffering from a substance use disorder or addiction. Properly staged interventions are often done in consultation with a doctor or professional, such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or directed by an intervention professional (interventionist). Interventions are often conducted without guidance from a professional, but here at Sunshine Behavioral Health, we strongly urge you to seek consultation when planning for a loved one’s intervention. 


It is important that friends and family try and consult a professional as they have the knowledge and tools to help orchestrate a successful intervention. A doctor or addiction specialist will listen and understand your loved one’s particular circumstances and take this into account when suggesting intervention strategies. This will help guide you towards what type of treatment and follow-up will be most effective for your loved one. If you think your loved one may react self-destructively or violently, staging your intervention with a professional present can help ensure your intervention stays on track.


What are the steps needed to stage an intervention?

If you are seriously considering an intervention to help a loved one who is struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, there are proper steps you can follow to help ensure your intervention will be successful and help guide you through the process.


Step One: Get Help

As mentioned earlier, here at Sunshine Behavioral Health, we strongly urge you to seek professional consultation if you are looking to plan an intervention for a loved one. Not every situation is the same, therefore no treatment or plan will be the same. With an in-depth knowledge of substance abuse disorders and treatment, professional consultation can help guide you and your loved one’s to specific treatment and follow-up.


It is also important that you seek help from other friends and family of the person who is suffering from addiction. Support for the process and for the individual you are looking to help is incredibly important. It is important that you do not try and take on this work alone.


Step Two: Form the Intervention Team

Early on into the planning process, you should look to form your intervention team. This team will be the core group of organizers, and should certainly include a professional. Try to keep the intervention team limited to close family members and friends. Too many people in the room can overwhelm the person struggling and they may take it as an attack on themselves,  rather than a group of people trying to help.


Step Three: Make a Plan

Obviously there are many steps to making a plan, but in general, your intervention plan plays a lot into the success of the intervention. An intervention should not be a spur-of-the-moment event. . Scheduling a specific time and day is important. You want to plan for a time when your loved one is most likely not under the influence of whatever substance they may be struggling with. A well put together plan also includes an outline of how the process will work and what everyone will say. This way, everyone on the intervention team will understand their roles before the intervention and help guide the intervention, ensuring it stays on track.


Step Four: Gather Information

Before staging an intervention it is important to learn more about the substance your loved one may be abusing. It is also important to understand what addiction is and how it affects someone, as well as understanding what the recovery process may look like for that person. Come prepared with information on detox and rehabilitation clinics like Sunshine Behavioral Health, particularly those that suit the personality and needs of the person struggling with addiction.


Step Five: Write Impact Statements

An impact statement is a personal statement each member of the intervention team should come prepared with. It discusses how addiction has harmed the person struggling, and how it has impacted their relationships. A well written impact statement will help the person struggling with addiction understand that their struggle does not impact them alone. Make sure these statements are emotionally true and focus on love, it is important to not present these statements as an attack on the individual struggling.


Step Six: Offer Help

Anyone who is attending the actual intervention should be prepared to support the person struggling. They can offer rides to treatment, attend support therapy sessions with the individual, and make clear that they will be there for them after treatment as well.


Step Seven: Set Boundaries

Do not be surprised if the person refuses treatment. Interventions are not a surefire way to convince someone they need help. Be clear that there will be consequences if the person refuses to seek help.


Step Eight: Rehearse

An intervention is an emotionally charged event. Be sure to rehearse what everyone is going to say, and make sure you don’t slip into blaming the loved one or falling into self-pity. Rehearsing the whole intervention at least once before it actually occurs will ensure everyone involved already has an idea of what to say, as well as when to listen.


Step Nine: Manage Expectation

Be sure to prepare yourself in the event that your loved one may not accept help. Even with a well-planned intervention, there are a variety of reasons why that person may not accept help. If they choose to not seek help, be prepared to follow through with your outlined consequences.


Step 10: Follow up

Whether the person accepts treatment or not, it is important that everyone stays true to what was said in the intervention. Too much stress on the person could slow down their road to recovery and potentially lead to relapse and or deepen their existing substance abuse struggles.


People struggling with a substance abuse disorder may be in denial about the harm they are causing others and themselves. A properly staged intervention following the steps above can help them understand that their behaviors aren’t just hurting themselves, but also the people who love and care about them, and help lead them to proper recovery. Visit Sunshine Behavioral Health to learn more about how we provide the highest quality substance abuse treatment services and deliver them with passion, integrity, and company spirit.



Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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