Planning An Intervention? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes

It's often said that a person with an addiction won't get help until they "hit bottom." An intervention is a way for friends and family to help the addict get to the bottom sooner rather than later and be standing there with an offer of help when it happens. The bottom comes in the form of consequences offered by the intervention participants if the addict doesn't accept help, like cutting them off financially or socially. Done correctly, an intervention can be a useful tool. If you're planning an intervention for someone you care about, take a look at some mistakes to avoid.

Shouting or Speaking in Anger

It's entirely normal to be angry with an addict in your life. No matter how much you love them or how clearly you understand that addiction is a disease that the person suffers from, the fact remains that addicts tend to do things that hurt the people who care about them, and people who are hurt can easily become angry.

However, behaving confrontationally will only put the addict on the defensive. They are already likely to feel ambushed, and shouting or blaming will just alienate them. They may refuse to listen or even leave. In order for the intervention to be productive, it's important to remain calm. It can help to write down what you want to say—that way, you can think about the words you'll use and revise as needed. If there is somebody involved in planning the intervention who does not believe that they'll be able to express their feelings without becoming angry or confrontational, it may be better if that person doesn't participate directly.

Making Empty Threats

If you're going to tell your loved one that you will no longer give them money, let them stay with you, bail them out, or help them in some other way unless they stop using drugs or alcohol and go to rehab, you need to be prepared to enforce those consequences. That can be hard, and it's likely that you've threatened similar things before and failed to follow through. However, if the addict knows or believes that you won't follow through this time, they have no incentive to change their behavior. That means that you must only set limits that you can keep.

This means that you need to really think through any consequences you plan to offer. If you say that you're no longer going to communicate with the addict at all, make sure that you really believe you can do that, or think of a different consequence. Also, be prepared to follow through immediately—if you pay for the addict's cell phone bill, and you tell them that you'll turn off the service if they don't go to rehab, be prepared to do so that very day if they don't agree to go.

Not Getting Professional Help

A real life intervention probably won't look or feel like an intervention that you've watched on TV. They're painful and emotional events for everyone involved, and it can be hard to think clearly when you're personally involved. Having a neutral party present can be a big help. An intervention also deals with getting treatment for someone with a serious medical condition—addiction—and you are probably not a specialist who deals with that condition. You need someone on hand who is.

You should seriously consider working with a professional interventionist. If you know which rehab center you intend to use, you should consult with them—they may have an interventionist on staff or be able to refer you to one. They can also give you some guidance on how to proceed if the intervention fails, and direct you to resources that can help family and friends struggling to deal with the effects of having an addict in their lives.

Contact an addiction treatment center in your area to find out what treatment options they offer and get guidance on how to proceed. Doing so may change your loved one's life.