When a family is trying to convince a loved one to go to rehab, it’s one of life’s most stressful moments.
Literally, a life hangs in the balance. If you’ve already tried this in the past, then you know that using logic and love very seldom works.
Here’s what you have to do to win at an intervention. Essentially, you have to 100% stack the deck against your loved one, making it as impossible as possible for him (or her) to say “No.” In my 17 years of doing interventions, here’s what I’ve learned is needed for a successful intervention.
1. Determine the correct treatment for your loved one.
Complete this step before starting the intervention or even moving forward. Finding the correct treatment program is vital. There are a few reasons for this. 1). the treatment center usually has interventionist they use who are familiar with their treatment modality and facility and; 2.) You do not want to get the agreement from the addicted person and then try to find a treatment program as usually there is only a small window of opportunity of getting the person to the treatment program after getting their agreement. Drug or alcohol cravings can take over causing the person to change their mind making things all the more difficult.
2. Hire a professional.
Why? A pro is not emotionally involved. He can’t be manipulated by the individual. He also has a complete understanding of what lies ahead if this person does not go to rehab now. Today. Right this minute. Family may lack these elements. Finding a professional interventionist and following his or her lead is your best guarantee of success. If you absolutely can’t do this, then here are further tips to help you take on this job on your own.
3. Pick your intervention team.
Carefully choose the family members and close friends who are the strongest and most analytical and are likely to be the most effective in getting the addicted person’s agreement on going to rehab. It is not a good idea to have someone present who may make an already possibly volatile situation worse. You want people there who are respected by, and have an emotional attachment to, the addicted person. Go over these with the interventionist.
4. Unify your intervention team.
Talk to each person, together or separately if necessary, and convince them to work as a team, acting as a unified body with the goal of getting the person into a rehab. Send each person this list and use it as a guide as you plan the intervention.
5. List out any objections that may arise.
You can do this next step by yourself but its better if you get input from members of your team: Anticipate any and all objections the individual may have to leaving immediately for rehab. List them out. Work out a solid solution to each and every one.
6. Remember who you are trying to save.
Take a little time by yourself (and suggest to other members of your team that they do the same.) Consider how much you love the person you’re trying to help. Remember what they were like before becoming addicted to drugs. That person is still there, deep inside, but is buried under layers of defeat, degradation and drugs. You’re going to have to get through to the very heart of that person, the real person inside. That conversation could get very rough. Remembering how much you love that person and having his (or her) best qualities in mind will help sustain you.
7. Be willing to experience anything.
Before you start the conversation, you’re going to have to be willing for anything to happen. The individual will probably throw a fit, may try to walk out, may threaten you or themselves with harm. It’s almost guaranteed that they will find fault with you and accuse you of every horrible thing they can think of. You have to be prepared for this and you need to use the strength of your own will to see this conversation through. It’s the only way to get the result you want. Expect these upsets and you won’t be caught off guard. Just realize that it’s not really the individual himself throwing up objections and guilt trips. It’s like the addiction itself is running the show.
8. Be prepared to control the whole show.
This is one reason why you need to choose your team carefully. You want these people to work with you, not against you. If you have to control the addicted person and the members of your team, you are likely to get overwhelmed.
9. Be loving but rock solid.
The addicted person will try very hard to manipulate you or whoever they think is the weakest. Don’t let yourself get dragged down to the addicted person’s level. Think of the addicted person as a drowning victim. You cannot jump in the water to save them. You have to keep your feet on dry ground, throw them a lifeline and get them to grab it. They have to know you mean business. Don’t ever weaken on your demand that the person’s next move is arriving at the rehab you have chosen.
10. Establish the bottom lines.
In other words, work out the consequences of your loved one saying no and do not vary from them for any reason. These are also called ultimatums. Get a commitment from each member of your team. Usually years of manipulation have occurred and more often than not, an addict will call your bluff. Don’t bluff!!!! Follow through with the bottom lines for you loved one’s sake. Believe it or not, they are counting on you to stay strong. Doing so will help guide them in the right direction. If you need help with this, please call us.
11. Do whatever it takes.
Be prepared to do whatever it takes to convince the person they need help. Use any resource, any argument that might work. Our motto here at Newman Intervention Services is “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” If you prepare for the absolute worst possible scenario then nothing should come as a surprise. Usually these things go pretty quickly and agreement is gained very soon.
12. Do not believe the “they must hit rock bottom” myth.
You never know when that will happen. It could happen in ten minutes, ten years or never because they overdosed first. There’s a term we use, “bringing the bottom to them.” This means that you have to get them to see what lies directly ahead if they don’t get help now.
13. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
It’s a very good idea to prepare yourself by considering the absolute worst case scenario. Many addicted people will buckle when their family pours their hearts out but some won’t. You then you have a fight on your hands. You have to be prepared to fight back and refuse to take no for an answer, no matter what. If you can’t do this, your chances of success are limited. You might even do more harm than good. This is right at the heart of the whole intervention. You must be willing to do whatever it takes – whatever it takes – to bring this person to the front door of your chosen drug rehab. But this doesn’t mean you should get mad. It simply means your intention and decision are much stronger than the addicted person’s and you never give up.
14. Hang in there for the long term if needed.
Further, be prepared for this process to take more than one day. By the second day, the family is usually exhausted and ready to quit.
The third day, they want nothing more than to give in and give up. You must maintain your position throughout.
15. Set a new standard of expected behavior.
Consider this: In this intervention, you are establishing a new set of ground rules for your loved one. Not only are they going to go to rehab, but they are also going to stay sober after they come home. If that individual chooses a drug-addicted lifestyle over a loving family that’s willing to do anything to save them, then that determines their fate. You will not be able to become embroiled in their problem as it will overwhelm your own survival.
16. Assume control.
As the intervention progresses, start assuming control of the entire situation. That usually means changing everything you have been doing and how you have been interacting with the person. Often families have been providing money, food, shelter, modes of transportation and cell phones. You must be prepared to gain control over the person’s actions and decisions by eliminating this support and letting him know that his only option is to choose rehab.
Once you have all these preparations and adjustments planned out, now it’s time to roll into the intervention itself.
17. Pre-intervention meeting.
Have a pre-intervention meeting with the interventionist and members of your team. Cover these points, handle any disagreements. You might find you have to eliminate one or more members of your team at this point if it’s apparent that they can’t deal with the challenge. Thank them for their willingness and let them go.
18. Write a letter.
Have each member of the family write a letter to the addicted person, expressing their love and heartfelt concerns. Some folks may have reservations about doing this but this is a fundamental factor in a successful intervention for several reasons. Ask for our letter writing guide if you have not received one.
19. Look over travel arrangements.
Have your travel plans made to get the person to the rehab you have chosen. Timing is a key element here.
20. Pre-pack a bag.
Doing so means that the individual will be able to walk right out the door and head for rehab as soon as they agree. Include the items your chosen rehab has recommended.
21. Take control of the situation.
Do your best to draw the person out of any drug-using environment they might be immersed in. Try to schedule the intervention for a time when they are the most likely to be sober or mostly sober. Bring the individual to a place where you will not be interrupted. Remove any children (and pets) from the area. If the person is driving work out a way that their car may be blocked in after they arrive, disabled or whatever. If they blow up and leave make sure it is on foot only if possible.
22. Strategic positioning.
Set the person in a position in the room away from any escape routes where the family are facing him or her and will feel the effect of all family and friends facing them at once. This is also a method of gaining control of the situation and very effective.
23. Communicate your concerns.
Usually the interventionist will begin the conversation and have each family member read their letters making their determined appeal. Stay strong in the face of refusals, guilt trips or tantrums. Stay very, very strong. Stay focused on the outcome you want, not the drama the individual throws at you. Do not engage in any banter back and forth. Point out the positives of going and the negatives of refusing.
24. Leave immediately.
As soon as the person says yes, head out. Put their bags nonchalantly in the trunk of the car. Once they leave the house, they cannot return for any reason. The sooner they are separated from family the better. If they are dropped off at the airport, do not provide a ride back home if the person calls, begging to come home. Remember that the drugs have overwhelmed this person’s power of decision. He is very likely to try to get you to change your minds, even after he arrives at rehab. You have to be stronger than he is. As he completes rehab, he will gradually get his own analytical power back, if you have chosen your rehab well.
25. Stay strong all the way through the program until permanent sobriety is obtained.
The ultimate goal is permanent and long lasting sobriety. Do not let your guard down until you are certain this has been achieved. There are specific steps to achieving this and the intervention is only the beginning. Thankfully you have given yourself, and your loved one a new chance and achieving this and have set the course for a happy and prosperous life.