Staging an Intervention: How to Prepare

staging an intervention

Substance abuse is a huge problem in the United States, which is why many turn to, staging an intervention. Recent figures suggest that around 21.5 million people have substance use disorder. Although new measures have been introduced to help those suffering, particularly affected by the Opioid epidemic, it still remains true that only 7.6% of those with a problem are actually getting the help they need. For friends and family interventions are just one part of helping someone in active addiction get well again.

There is help out there and those who want to get clean can do so. There are many reasons why someone won’t want to address their substance use, from being in denial about their usage to not knowing how to cope without their preferred substance. Sometimes it takes a little, or a lot of encouragement and support to help someone get well. This is where an intervention comes in.

What is an Intervention?

When people think about an intervention, their mind usually goes to something they’ve seen on tv or in a movie, that probably involved a lot of drama. It’s true that some emotions can come to the surface, but there are ways to manage it. An intervention at its simplest, is just sitting down with your loved one to discuss their substance abuse problems. It can just be a one-to-one conversation in a quiet space.

A classic intervention is when a group of people gather to encourage their loved one to go to therapy. This can’t be a free for all, it needs to be carefully planned in order to aim for the best possible outcome. Regardless of how you approach it, you need to have a strategy and look at various different models of intervention before deciding how to handle it.

When to Stage an Intervention

Obviously, you need to identify that the person has a problem. If they are lying about their alcohol or drug use, then it’s evident that there’s something they are trying to hide. The earlier that you stage an intervention, the better it can be for their recovery. However, bear in mind that they may just be having a stressful time at work/school and a simple chat could help.

You should only decide to stage an intervention if you know that you and all members involved can handle it. There is no point in trying to do this if there are people in the group who also their own issues around substance abuse or something else radically stressful in their life.

The time you pick has to a time when you know that the person in active addiction won’t be under the influence. You will not have a successful outcome if the person is drunk or high. They could agree to things that they won’t even remember.

There doesn’t need to be any rush. It’s better that you have collected all the relevant information and have everybody ready when you go to stage the intervention.

Who Should Be Involved in the Intervention?

The ideal group in a family intervention should comprise around four to seven people, so it doesn’t become overwhelming. The person will likely realize exactly what’s happening when they see the group together, so any more people than that and it just becomes too much.

The group should include their spouse or partner, close friends and children if they are old enough. If the person has previously been part of a church, then it can be helpful to include a member of the clergy or someone of their faith. Each person should be able to discuss how the person’s behavior has affected them. This will have an impact on the person.

If at all possible, you should enlist the services of a professional interventionist or drug counselor. They have been through the process before and can give you the best advice in regards to planning the intervention.

Choose a Treatment Facility

Before you stage the intervention, you need to have chosen a treatment center that will suit the needs of your loved one. This is the crux of the intervention – to encourage them to get help, so you have to be pre.

One person should take responsibility for gathering the information on treatment options. Finances will need to be considered and if the person is eligible for any financial aid needs to be checked. There are publicly funded programs and free treatment options too. It is often best to choose the best treatment you can afford, as they will be able to offer a more personalized and residential treatment for your loved one.

Bringing the Group Together

The group should all meet at least once before the intervention. This is to cover every last detail. Here is a list of items that you need to check off before staging the intervention:

  1. In the absence of a professional counsel or interventionist, choose the person who is going to lead the meeting.
  2. Everyone should list the ways they have tried to help the person.
  3. Evaluate the treatment options together. What is possible?
  4. Each person should write a letter, usually this involves the clear request to them to seek help/go to therapy/go for treatment.
  5. Edit each others letters. Blame and judgement have no place here.
  6. Set a date, time and place for the intervention to take place. Remind one another not to tell the person, as they may avoid it if they find out about it.
  7. Decide on how you will arrive at the chosen place. If you are arriving before the person in active recovery, make sure that you or your car won’t be seen.
  8. Go through the objections that the person will have. They are not likely to give in easily. It is important to be able to counter their arguments, particularly denial. However, try to make these as non-emotional as possible.
  9. Rehearse as much as possible. Who is going to start, who will follow, etc?

Staging an Intervention

The key to a good intervention lies in the planning. If you have met as a group on several occasions and practiced what you are going to say, then it is far more likely to be successful.

Don’t forget that this is a stressful experience for you too. It’s important to make sure that everyone involved gets the help they need. Hopefully, you can all set the person with addiction on the road to recovery. If you need help getting started with the process and need to talk with someone about what to do next – contact us at (866) 578-7471.


1 comment
  1. It was very difficult to create an intervention for my cousin. He had a successful business, and really didn’t have any ill effects from his alcoholism. But, he drank nonstop, all day. We just had to do something, we didn’t want to see him dead. He was very combative, but luckily his 3 year old daughter was the reason he agreed to go to rehab.

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