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7 Things to Never Do During an Addiction Intervention

Last Updated on March 8, 2022

addiction intervention

If you have a loved one with a substance use disorder, things can sometimes feel hopeless. However, people can and do recover from addiction, and an addiction intervention is often the first step. 

Sometimes, an addicted individual may be reluctant to admit they have a substance abuse problem or that they need help. In these instances, an intervention may be an effective solution. When carefully planned and completed with the guidance of a professional interventionist, an intervention can be an excellent way to communicate your concern to an addicted loved one and get them to go to treatment.

If you plan to host an intervention for an addicted loved one, we always recommend working with an interventionist and planning carefully beforehand. In working with an interventionist, you can avoid some of these common mistakes family members and loved ones make, which can be detrimental to the intervention process.

1. Going in without a plan.

A spur-of-the-moment or poorly planned intervention is sure to fail and cause unnecessary conflict. If you want to host an effective addiction intervention that is more likely to result in your loved one getting help, planning is key! Since interventions are highly charged situations that have the potential to become very emotional, you’ll need a structured plan for how you will do it. Otherwise, your loved one may be more likely to become angry, violent, resentful, or feel betrayed.

An interventionist, therapist, counselor, or addiction treatment professional can help you organize an effective intervention for your loved one. They can also help you determine who will lead the intervention, in what order you’ll speak, and what you’ll say when it’s your turn to speak. Most often, they’ll encourage you to write it down and describe specific instances where the person’s addiction caused problems and how it affected you. A professional may also even help you host the intervention by serving as a third-party mediator and guide during the discussion.

2. Addressing the addiction while the person is under the influence.

Drugs and alcohol can make a person behave unpredictably and irrationally. Trying to talk to someone while they’re drunk, high, or coming down from using is unlikely to go well. Instead, take the time to observe your loved one’s schedule. Choose a time when they are most likely to be sober. Usually, it’s best to host an intervention early in the morning. Otherwise, a planned intervention following a drug or alcohol-related incident can also be ideal. For example, after an arrest or hospital stay. Your loved one may be more likely to see the severity of their addiction immediately following a situation like this. As a result, they’re more likely to agree to get help.

3. Hosting the intervention at home.

Although hosting an addiction intervention at the person’s home is definitely convenient, it’s not recommended. That’s because a person’s private home is more likely to be an emotionally-charged location. In turn, that may lead to an ineffective intervention. Additionally, it’s too easy for the addicted individual to retreat and “escape” the intervention to avoid confronting the issue.

Instead, a better option would be to host the intervention in a public place, like a coffee shop, restaurant, or a counselor’s office. Although it may not seem ideal to discuss such issues in a public place, it’s a great way to motivate the people involved to maintain their composure. It also ensures that the intervention has a set timeline and won’t stretch on for too long.

4. Impulsively selecting people to help conduct the intervention.

Selecting individuals to participate in the addiction intervention is an important job that shouldn’t be done haphazardly. Too often, family members of addicted loved ones ask anyone and everyone to participate. But this can do more harm than good. Although the addiction may have affected many people, you should think carefully about who you choose to include.

It’s a good idea to include individuals who have an emotional connection to the addicted individual, such as their spouse, parents, or closest friend. However, it’s not a great idea to include those who are likely to become overly emotional or angry. When making your selections, try to consider how the person has handled emotionally-charged situations in the past. If they responded with heightened anger or frustration, they might not be a good candidate. On the other hand, someone who is able to maintain their composure, stay calm, and defuse a situation. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get your loved one into treatment. If an argument breaks out during the intervention, this is unlikely to happen.

5. Imposing guilt.

Your addicted loved one is already likely struggling with feelings of guilt and shame. So, blaming them for certain situations or listing out all their moral failures will only make them feel worse and push them away. Instead, it’s best to stick to statements like, “When you’ve lied to me about what you were doing, I felt hurt and betrayed.”

The purpose of an intervention is not to make them feel guilty or accuse them of anything. Instead, it’s a great way to hold up a mirror to your addicted loved one’s behavior. That way they can see how it’s affecting their relationships from another person’s point of view. This reveals their need to get help before things get worse.

6. Negotiating.

People in the throes of addiction tend to try to bargain. That way, they can keep doing what they’re doing and avoid going to treatment. Unfortunately, addiction is a cunning disease that keeps people trapped in this way. So, if you find yourself agreeing to giving the person a little more time to get themselves together on their own, you’ve missed your opportunity.

When it comes to an addiction intervention, there’s no room for negotiation. The ultimate goal is to get a yes or no answer from your loved one. And if they decide not to get help for their substance abuse problem, you’ll need to follow through on whatever ultimatums you’ve defined for yourself. Whether this means you no longer loan them money or allow them to live with you, following through is ultimately the best way you can help them see that they need help. 

7. Giving up hope.

If the addiction intervention doesn’t go as well as anticipated, it’s important that you not give up hope. It’s so hard to watch a loved one struggle with a life-altering disease like drug or alcohol addiction, but there is usually very little you can do until they admit they need help. It’s easy to get discouraged, but one of the best ways you can maintain hope and keep moving forward is to seek support for yourself. Consider attending Al-Anon meetings, which is a mutual support program for people who have been affected by a loved one’s drinking or drug abuse. By sharing common experiences and receiving encouragement and support from people in similar situations, you can learn more about addiction and improve your own attitudes and behaviors to enhance your mental health and relationships with others.

Learn more about intervention assistance for an addicted loved one

At Nova Recovery Center, we offer outpatient and inpatient drug rehab Austin TX. Our expert staff is well-qualified to help you assist your addicted loved one as they move through the treatment process. 

If you need help planning an intervention, we can put you in touch with a professional interventionist who is well-suited to your situation and circumstances. Please call (888) 427-4932 to speak with an admissions representative at Nova Recovery Center or contact us online for more details.

References:

  1. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/SAMHSA_Digital_Download/phd1112.pdf 
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451 
  3. https://al-anon.org/pdf/S37E.pdf 

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