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Living with someone addicted to drugs or alcohol is not easy, and there is a significant strain placed on the family dynamic. Drug and alcohol intervention is usually the only option, but it works when planned and organized with a professional interventionist. It becomes an endless cycle watching the person become consumed by drugs and family and friends feeling hopeless. However, family intervention creates changes and allows families to take a proactive stance while regaining control.

Most addicts do not receive help because of not asking for it or family and friends not intervening. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among the 21.6 million people aged 12 or older in 2019 who needed substance use treatment in the past year, 1.5% received some type of help. Early intervention is successful, and families should not wait around for the addict to ask for help. Here are nine tips for a successful drug and alcohol intervention.

Contact a Professional Interventionist

Whether you hire a professional interventionist or not, the knowledge you gain is invaluable, especially when choosing the people involved with the intervention. The people attending the intervention should have a relatively close relationship with the addict. An intervention is not a time to point the finger or place blame. The process involves taking a loving and caring approach towards the addict, showing them how their addiction has impacted their life and the lives of the people around them. A certified interventionist has the training and knowledge to prepare a family for this. Also, they have the counseling ability to manage problems with enabling and co-dependency within the family dynamic.

Ensure the Addict is Sober

This is not always easy but based on their patterns of substance abuse and with the help of a professional interventionist, choosing a sober moment is possible. The family wants to engage the drug-addicted person when they are sober and coherent or as close to sober as possible. Talking to someone who is heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not work and may end up in an argument or violent confrontation. Timing is everything, and sometimes the intervention occurs after a major drug-related incident. For example, the individual may have experienced a non-life-threatening overdose or is involved with legal trouble. These are sobering moments for most addicts and work to the advantage of the family.

Select a Neutral Spot to Hold the Intervention

The first instinct is usually to hold a family intervention in the family home. However, this does not always work, especially if the drug-addicted individual lives at the family home. A spot that is too comfortable for them makes it easier for them to find a way out or even escape the intervention. Holding an intervention in a neutral space makes it easier for the family to have control and for the interventionist to their job. For example, it could take place in a hotel room, a church, or even a community center.

Plan Who is Going to Speak and What is Said

A family intervention is planned where there are specific speakers and order of who speaks and what is said. The purpose of this is to allow the right person to speak at the right time. Everyone attending the intervention is influential in some way and has a specific story and detailed experience about how the addiction has impacted them. When working with a professional interventionist, everyone is prepared for different scenarios and find the proper order of who speaks.

Interventions Should Be Rehearsed Ahead of Time

Family interventions cause emotions to run high, and it is easy to be derailed because the wrong thing was said. An interventionist will get the family to practice and rehearse what they are going to say. Practicing what is said helps the people involved stand behind what they are going to say. Rehearsals also prepare the family for the emotions they are going to experience throughout the intervention.

Read Your Letter Word for Word and Do Not Improvise

Every person involved with the intervention has a letter to read, and it is specific, detailed, and read in a certain order. Professional interventionists help families construct these letters, and this is part of the script of the intervention. Do not improvise or add to your script during the intervention. Other members of the intervention have their letters and will say exactly what is on that letter. This process ensures a level of control that prevents the intervention from spiraling out of control.

Pay Attention to Body Language

A professional interventionist will help a family know what open and warm body language look like. The intervention is a surprise to the addict, which is why it is important to have body language that is not confrontational. For example, keeping arms and legs uncrossed and looking at the person as you speak to them. Demonstrate your sincereness about what is happening and lovingly engaging the person.

Do Not Lose Your Temper

Someone who is addicted to drugs was not a bad person before they became addicted. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol consume every aspect of who the person was. The drug-addicted person could say wild, crazy, and hurtful things during the intervention. This is not a time to take things personally, but to stay focused on the task, which is to get them help. Losing your temper is a sure way to delrail an intervention completely.

Plan the Consequences and Do Not Give Up

The hardest part of the intervention is following through with an ultimatum if the addict does not agree to attend treatment. However, the ultimatum sets a clear boundary and demonstrates the family is serious and will not back down. For example, the consequences could involve being kicked out of the house or facing their legal charges. Part of standing firm is not giving up, which is why a professional interventionist is helpful to have. Family interventionists continue to work with the family after the intervention providing counseling and guidance. The goal is to save the addict’s life, and drug and alcohol intervention is the best way to accomplish this.


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