How do I Stage an Intervention?
Intervention techniques to communicate with your loved one.
Intervention techniques to communicate with your loved one.
It is estimated that around one in three people have at least one member in their family who has an alcohol problem. This is usually the person’s significant other. Alcoholism has the potential to significantly damage relationships, while causing chaos and stress at the same time. It’s important to know how to deal not just with an alcoholic spouse, but also with the feelings the nonalcoholic partner is experiencing. Knowing when and how to stage an intervention can mean all the difference.
Staging an intervention is very important tool that can give people the motivation they need to seek help for a drug or alcohol addiction. Dealing with someone who is suffering from an addiction is incredibly difficult. In some cases, simply having a good heart to heart can be all that is needed to solve the problem. However, most people with an addiction are in firm denial, and they need a more focused approach. This is what an intervention can provide.
Since most individuals who suffer from an addiction are in denial, they don’t want to seek treatment for a problem they don’t believe they have. Their addiction takes precedence over everything else, which means they no longer see how their behavior negatively impacts themselves and those around them. Organizing an intervention requires a structured method of encouraging them to make the changes they need before things get worse. This is something that must be carefully planned, preferably with a professional interventionist. It can involve anyone who has ties to those who are addicted, with people coming together to confront them about their behavior. There are some principles to intervention, including:
A number of steps are involved in a staging an intervention. It is very important that the patient is not aware of this process until the time of the actual intervention has arrived. The steps are:
Staging an intervention can go smoothly, but only if they are planned and managed properly, and if those taking part in it stick by the consequences they listed.
It is important to work with an intervention specialist to increase the chances of a successful outcome. Some people are trained specifically as interventionists, while other possible experts who can help include drug counselors, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. While you are within your rights to not work with a specialist, this is usually not advisable. If your loved one meets any of the following criteria, it is imperative that you seek professional help for both their safety and your own:
If you have any worries that your loved one may react violently, or that there is a possibility of self-harm you MUST seek help from a professional.
Over 23.5 million people are in need of treatment for illegal drugs.
Planning an intervention should be a stepped approach. As such, the steps are:
This is a hugely important element. If you say the wrong things during an intervention, you will only push your loved one away. This person will quickly realize that he or she has entered an intervention, which will likely cause a defensive reaction. It is important that you diffuse this straight away, making the person more receptive to what you actually have to say
Start by saying something positive, such as:
“Thank you for all the love over the years.”
Showing immediately that you care about the person is very important, because it will make him or her feel more worthy. The concerned person will also be more receptive to the idea that you genuinely want what is best for him or her. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you” either. Those with an addiction often feel isolated because, deep down, they know they have pushed everybody away and put their substance abuse above all else. Hearing that that they are still loved and cared for can be the trigger they need to accept that they need to make a change.
If there are children in the relationship, saying that you are worried about their well being can also be very powerful. Cite research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which demonstrated that people can have a genetic predisposition to become addicted. In fact, 50% of a person’s susceptibility to becoming addicted comes from the genes. Children in households with addictions are also more likely to witness verbal abuse, violence, insecurity, and poverty. No matter how much people will try to protect their children, if there is substance abuse going on in the household, the children will be aware and they will model their behavior based on that. This can include being overly protective of a parent, but it can also mean that they are more likely to turn to drugs themselves, seeing that these substances as a way to cope with difficult times. That is a lesson no parent would want children to learn.
Another thing you can tell your loved one is that you will be there for them every step of the way. The American Journal on Drug and Alcohol Abuse published a study that discussed codependency, whereby the non-addicted spouse also becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. If one of the two parties has successfully gone through treatment, this can be a huge motivating story, as there is someone who truly understands how the process works and what to expect. Not everybody can have someone at the intervention who has gone through treatment. This is why it is important to be educated on process of treatment, so that you can show that you understand what your loved one will go through and that you will be supportive.
Do also tell your loved one that getting treatment works and can be very successful. Addiction is a chronic disease, as defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. This means that just like with other chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes, people go through relapse periods before going back into remission. A relapse is not synonymous with failure; it means that further support is needed. It is very important that you get your addicted loved one to understand that just because he or she may relapse does not mean that the treatment is not worth going through. If your loved one does go to treatment, this will be discussed at length with him or her. However, hearing it from loved ones can be much more empowering. During the research period in the planning stages of the intervention make sure that you find statistics on relapse and what the next steps could be taken to remedy the situation. Remind the loved one, again, that you will be there every step of the way.
You should also tell your loved one that you understand that addiction is not a lifestyle choice, but a disease. Someone who has an addiction will have been labeled as lazy, worthless, stupid, weak, and more; that isn’t true. Being told by people you care about that the situation is not your fault, just as having cancer or the flu is not a person’s fault, can also be very empowering. Addicted people may be in denial, they are not stupid. They have internal voices going off telling them that they should change, but other internal voices making it impossible for them to do so. If they are told that people understand that they are unable to make those changes without help, it can be very important. Comparing it with another illness can help to make things clearer. Those who break their leg in an accident will not heal by simply telling themselves to keep walking. They will need professional help to fix the issue, before they can return to their normal life.
What an interventionist can do is help you create this type of message. It is a message of love, caring, and support. But it is also a serious message, and this is why it is so important to also have real consequences ready.