Tough Love: How to Stage an Intervention for Friends and Loved Ones

Maybe you can’t overlook it anymore. Your friend or loved one’s addiction is not only killing them but it’s devastating you as well. Don’t sit by and watch it destroy the people you love the most.

Friends and family members can play a crucial role in substance addiction interventions. You can find out more here on how to stage an intervention and help your loved one reclaim their life.

Signs of Addiction

In their 2016 report, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that more than 20 million people had substance use addictions within the past year. The physical and behavioral changes in an addict may surprise friends and family members. Some of these symptoms of addiction include:

  • Abrupt weight gain or loss
  • Body odor
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Garbled speech

Behavioral signals of addiction can include:

  • Consuming larger amounts over shorter periods of time to get the same effects.
  • Hiding or lying about the amount of alcohol or drugs they take. May also include secretly consuming in private.
  • Carrying out activities (i.e., swimming, driving) that are not safe to do while high or drunk.
  • Missing important activities (i.e., jobs, family obligations) to recover from hangovers.

Intervention Defined

An intervention is a planned conversation where friends, co-workers and family members challenge an abuser about their addiction and ask them to get professional help. An intervention is a specific plan for treatment with clear tasks and goals. The intervention conversation may involve using tough words to describe how abuser’s behavior is harming themselves as well as the other people in their lives.

Whether it’s a substance abuse intervention or for any other addiction, the goal is to give the addict a chance to accept professional help. The user needs to agree that it’s time to make a change for the better before their health gets any worse.

Types of Intervention

Intervention styles take on different forms and shapes because they occur at different times during the cycle of addiction. You’ll find these models at most mental health and drug rehab centers. These types of intervention include:

Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention includes counseling patients who are in extreme psychological or medical distress. Law enforcement may be on hand to provide temporary assistance to help the patient seek emergency medical treatment.

Brief Intervention

This type of intervention consists of a brief, in-person meeting between a medical professional and the patient battling substance addiction. Brief interventions usually occur after the patient is in the hospital for an overdose. These interventions may also be called for after lab tests reveal dangerous health conditions during a routine doctor’s appointment.

Family Systemic Intervention

This model works well if the abuser and her or his family are a close, connected family unit. Therapy sessions allow families to discuss how the abuser’s damaging behavior impacts their lives as well. A family intervention only includes caregivers or immediate family members in therapy sessions designed to help them address the destruction in their lives.

How to Stage an Intervention

Follow these steps to create your own intervention plan. Put these tasks in motion to start your healing process today.

1. Identify Your Intervention Team

The intervention team consists of the members that will plan and participate in the intercession. Intervention teams usually include close friends or trusted coworkers. Don’t include the addict as a planning member of the intervention team.

2. Create the Intervention Plan

Members of the intervention team develop a plan with assignments, goals, and objectives that describes how the intercession will work. Some of these assignments might include regularly scheduling intervention planning meetings. Other tasks could include meeting with psychologists or professional addiction counselors.

3. Study the Disease of Addiction

Learn about all the signs and symptoms of substance abuse addiction. Collect resource information about detox or the recovery process. When you educate yourself on the facts, you will be able to tailor a drug addiction intervention that fills your loved one’s needs.

4. Set Expectations and Consequences

Intervention team members should set personal boundaries so that they can avoid codependency or enabling the addict’s destructive habits. Intervention team members should speak with one voice and deliver the message that relationships with friends and family will suffer if the user refuses treatment. The intervention team members can agree on consequences if the user won’t cooperate.

5. Assign Tasks

Meet with your intervention team and discuss how members will help their loved one while they work through recovery. For example, one team member can offer rides to doctor’s visits while others can attend group therapy meetings. The goal is to identify an assigned intervention team member that will go with the person to these very important meetings.

6. Practice What Happens at the Intervention Meeting

Intervention team members need to aim to deliver a consistent message throughout the intervention. Mixed messages will undermine your efforts and violate any trust during the recovery phase. Rehearse how team members will describe their support throughout the recovery period and any consequences if destructive habits continue.

7. Carry Out the Intervention Conversation

Pick your conversation date so that you’ll avoid any times when the addict is high or drunk. Schedule the conversation with all the affected team members but don’t tell the addict about the purpose of the meeting. Invite intervention team members to describe their observations on the user’s conduct and how they will help throughout the recovery period.

Be ready to see some defensive behavior from your loved one. The user might feel like they’ve been deceived and strike out in anger.

Try to remember that these angry feelings are natural. It’s the team’s job to stay caring and calm. This is your time to discuss how the addiction is destroying your loved one’s life.

Next Steps

Contact your doctor for more advice or referrals to other addiction professionals who can help you stage an intervention. It’s time to unite with friends and family members to recognize this disease and find the right course of treatment.

Don’t forget to check our website for more tips to help a family member with an addiction. With your support, your loved one will be back on the road to recovery in no time.