Intervention For Drug And Alcohol Addiction

July 5, 2017


I think we can agree that watching a family relative or friend suffer the consequences of drug and substance abuse is painful and intolerable...right?

As such, we must do all in our power to convince them that’s it’s never too late turn their lives back around. Through interventions, we let them know that they have our full support as they go through this ordeal. Such actions could greatly assist them in regaining a normal life. As such, this article would discuss how you could stage a successful intervention for a relative or a friend.

Topics included:

Intervention for drug and alcohol addiction

Why stage an intervention?

Alcohol and drug addiction is a prevalent problem in the United States. An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women), for example, die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Meanwhile, nearly a third of the population had drug use disorders, while 1 in every 8 people had a disorder involving both drugs and alcohol.

Going beyond the statistics, however, it’s an undisputed fact that, once you become an addict, you tend to spiral into a self-destructive pattern. Several addicts lose their self-control and their jobs, mismanage their finances and resources, and even get into fallouts with friends, families, and colleagues. These negative consequences permeate their lives, making it hard for them to have a normal life again.

Clearly, there is a need to address the addiction problem in the States. And one way to do so is via an intervention. But what is it, exactly? An intervention is usually a well-intentioned faceoff between a group of people who care about and have significant interests in the life of an alcoholic or addict. Such a faceoff is a way to guide the addict to face their own addiction. In summary, the addict is being asked to only know and consider how his/her behavior has had an effect on others.

In most cases, family members and friends gear up for an intervention in order to get their loved ones into drug and alcohol rehabs. But no matter how well-intentioned their families might be, addicts generally don’t take such interventions with joyful anticipation. Often, this leads to angry disputes and resistance. However, a well-staged intervention could help avoid such problems so they can focus on fixing the addiction program.

How to stage an intervention

Decide on who ought to participate

You should begin by asking yourself some questions. Who loves the victim? Who does the victim love and trust? Who happens to have an influence on him/her? When doing an intervention, who would be the weakest link? What are the victim’s greatest fears? It is a good idea to be cautious and only invite people who happen to be o the same page as other participants when you begin to consider who to participate in the intervention.

You should try your best to avoid those who could sabotage your efforts, particularly weak links who don’t have the guts to tell off the victim about the truth of the matter without apologizing or folding under pressure. Don’t be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings if case they weren’t invited. Remember, it’s not about them; you have a goal to achieve.

Anticipate objections

It will not be an easy road, dealing with a loved one who suffers addiction, as you don't want to alienate them but you also don't want them to keep staying on their path. You loved one might also have some objections about heading for treatment at this point in time. Before getting to the intervention, you should brainstorm, anticipate and try to figure out with your team on how to solve and evade those roadblocks.

Some examples of challenges might be: They couldn’t afford to leave work right now; they have kids who will be left unattended; financial difficulties in seeking treatment. Keep in mind that it’s someone’s life at stake here and intervention is all about caring and saving the life.

Identify the interventionist or leader

Many families are known to bring in an interventionist. The main reason is that they have tried everything: imposing restrictions, hiring the addict to the family business, giving them a room in the basement to live in, but to no avail. The benefit of considering hiring an interventionist is that they are not emotionally involved and they are known to not back down. They treat and see this as a no-turning-back point--that the addict has to go to treatment or has to suffer the full consequences of their behaviors.

If you can’t afford to hire an interventionist, you can tap someone within your group to be the leader. The leader’s main responsibility is to inform and coordinate with the addict and participants of the intervention regarding the logistics as well as the agenda.

Decide on the appropriate/necessary treatment

Chances are that your loved one will try their best to negotiate where and when he/she goes for treatment. Some prefer going to a counselor, some a psychiatrist and others an outpatient program. Find out where these other options are feasible and can suit your loved one’s needs. Try consulting with a professional about the different levels of care in accordance with your loved one’s addiction.

You probably think and believe that an inpatient rehabilitation program is a better and appropriate care. However, there are several points of consideration regarding that approach, such as:

  1. For acute/recurring addicts, it is the most effective.
  2. He/she can make the most progress in a relatively short period of time.
  3. Issues such as depression and anger will be treated too at the same time.  

Show care and love for them

Reserve at least two beds for them at a treatment center and tell them that a bed has already been reserved. Let him/her choose which between the two beds he/she would prefer. You can prepare a suitcase or even pack their bags for them and make them understand that they are supposed to leave and be taken to the treatment since they are expected that day or at a stipulated date. Let them know that you would be writing letters, calling, supporting them and even visiting them while they are there in the treatment. While they might be fearful about heading there, let them know that you really love them.

What you need to have during an intervention

Preparing a speech

It is always advisable to have a speech rehearsed or a script written beforehand. An example of a speech could be:

“We have all sacrificed our time and availed ourselves here since we care about you and you know something ought to be done about your drug/drinking abuse. All of us have something to say to you; kindly listen and let each of us tell you what we need to say. You will be given your own time to make your remarks, comments, responses after we are finished. We aren’t leaving until we have come to an agreement. For now, please, listen to us.”  

If appropriate, you could address that the addict could bolt during the intervention. That’s why the challenge of choosing a leader is important so he/she cannot be distracted or derailed by the addict’s interruptions or distractions. He or she should also make sure that the intervention is conducted with respect for the victim, and so should be responsible for keeping everyone on task. He should not forget to remind the addict that every statement the addict makes is true and there will be plenty of time to talk about it after everyone is done.


Coming up with lists

If possible, each participant should make a brief statement describing what the victim really means to them and why they care about them. They should also come up with lists of the negative impact their substance abuse has had in their lives, such as:

  • Financial responsibility;
  • Energy and time spent;  
  • Hurt feelings;
  • Physical and emotional abuse;
  • Mental health consequences; and
  • Fear of job loss

Always make  simple statements while addressing them, like , “I felt desperate, hopeless and frustrated when you lost your last job,” “It didn’t sit well with me when you flunked out of college,” “I always feel scared and get angry every day you come home in the middle of the night.”

Always have a bottom line at the end of your list. In this section, jot down the things you aren’t willing to tolerate in your life. A few examples could be:

  • You are not invited back home unless you go to the inpatient treatment, stay there until they acknowledge you are ready to come back home.
  • I’m withdrawing from paying your rent, college tuition or your car if you don’t go into inpatient treatment.

Many people confuse between threats and bottom lines. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it; threatening will only make things only worse. Some important points to note are:

  • Never argue with the addict during the intervention.
  • Avoid defending your perception, position, and beliefs; just state them without overexplaining.
  • Try and ignore their questioning, derailing or even other diversionary attempts.
  • Stay on target and refer back to your list.

In conclusion, it is always a great moment when an addict agrees to and accepts help. You will be happy and feel good knowing you were part of a team that persuaded a loved one to go to into rehab. Intervention is a great tool for the family to recognize and confront its problems. They can now go ahead and start working out on methods on how to overcome the trauma caused by the addict and his behavior in the family. It will also be your moral duty to liaise up with the treatment center and follow up on the progress of the reformed addict and try to make sure they never go the drug and alcohol path again.

For additional information on how you can stage an intervention, watch the video below:

The Author | Jeffery Knight
Jeff is a Husband and father two. He calls southern california his home, and enjoys spend relaxing weekends with his family. View More Post from Jeffery Knight