How to help an addict by staging an intervention

When a person can no longer control the amount or rate of their drinking or drug use, it is likely that their heavy use has turned into alcoholism or drug abuse. Watching a friend or loved one struggle with an addiction can be a painful experience, and you may be experiencing difficult emotions. In the same moment that you may fear for your loved one’s health and safety, you may also be struggling with feelings of resentment due to the way that your loved one’s substance abuse has impacted your life.

Regardless of what you are feeling you are not alone, and experiencing contradictory emotions is a normal and completely understandable response when someone you care about is an addict.

As you think about the future, you may be concerned about what will happen if your friend or family member does not change their substance habits. Addiction is a progressive condition, and if left untreated, it will only worsen over time. You may have already considered taking steps to encourage your loved one to enter treatment. You care deeply about this person and only wish to see them well again.

What is an addiction intervention?

As you consider what actions to take to motivate your loved one to agree to enter treatment, you may have thought about staging an intervention with other friends and loved ones. Typically this involves gathering a small group of selected individuals with whom the addict has a close bond. The purpose is to make a collaborative effort towards getting them the help they so desperately need.

This motivational technique has received considerable public attention in recent years, and so more people are now familiar with it as a means of encouragement. But before you decide to get a group of people together on your loved one’s behalf, there are some things you should know about interventions and about how to host one effectively.

Preparing for addiction intervention

Thorough preparation for an intervention involves several steps, and it is important that you take the time to ready yourself, friends and family prior to the process.

  • Select the intervention group that you will invite, keeping in mind that a small group of attendees is usually preferable 
  • Be sure to include only those individuals with whom your loved one has a close relationship, and who you know are willing to play a role in your loved one’s continued care
  • Ask all attendees to reflect on what they wish to share with their loved one during the intervention and encourage them to speak with a tone of compassion and sincerity
  • Remind them to ask their loved one to enter treatment, to offer support, and to leave criticism of any kind out of the conversation.
  • Prepare to be met with some anger, frustration or resistance. Even if your loved one knows about the intervention ahead of time and agrees to attend, they may still feel some unease throughout the conversation and may need some additional time to warm up to the idea of entering residential care 

The road ahead

There are many different types of intervention models recommended by addiction professionals. But no matter which method you and your friends and/or family members choose, know that this step can be a critical component of recovery for the person who has been misusing alcohol or drugs. Intervention is the first of many steps on the path to sustained sobriety, and there will be many more opportunities to assist your loved one on their journey to a life without addiction.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding staging an intervention for an addict, please call 0800 840 3219. Or complete our free addiction assessment. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here.