father consoles his son

How to Stage an Intervention That Works

Watching a loved one destroy their life through drug use, alcohol, or any other negative behavior is difficult and heartbreaking. When that person is not ready to change or refuses to reach out for help, family and friends often feel at a loss as to what to do. One strategy that many people choose is an intervention, but knowing how to stage an intervention that can succeed is not that obvious.

A family intervention, or an intervention with a combination of family and friends, is a directed, planned process of confronting someone who is engaging in destructive behaviors. It is also an opportunity for people to come together to learn about addictive disorders and how to help. An intervention can be successful in convincing someone to start treatment, but it requires planning and a professional touch. Here are some ideas for how to stage an intervention with the best odds of success:

1. Work With a Family Intervention or Addiction Specialist
Perhaps the most important step loved ones can take in designing an intervention is to work with a professional. Even with the best intentions, friends and families don’t necessarily have the expertise to confront, educate and help someone struggling with addiction. An experienced professional does have the knowledge to make an intervention run smoothly.

Not only can a specialist guide loved ones in hosting the best possible intervention, this professional can be on hand if things go wrong. Being confronted in a drug intervention isn’t easy for the addict. It can feel like being ganged up on and might push that person to lash out. Having a professional there can diffuse dangerous situations before they happen.

2. Plan and Form a Team for an Alcohol Intervention or Drug Intervention
An intervention should never be spontaneous. It needs to be planned and that plan includes the team. Start with a professional and then gather together the people who care about and love the subject of the intervention. Meet at least once before the actual event to plan how it will run.

Make sure everyone who will be present plans in advance what they want to say. Encourage each person to make notes and to be specific about how this person’s behaviors are hurting them. It’s hard to remember exactly what you want to say in the highly charged environment of an intervention.

3. Design Consequences and Present a Choice
At a friends and family intervention, the point is to convince the loved one that his or her behavior is damaging, destructive and harmful. Prepared notes are crucial for this, but so are consequences and a solution. The choice should be given for the subject of the intervention to participate in a treatment plan or to face the outlined consequences.

It may sound harsh, but consequences are important. These could be things like withholding financial assistance, no longer spending time with that person, or not allowing that person to see their children. These are not meant to be cruel, but instead practical and natural consequences for a person who refuses to change addictive behaviors or get treatment.

4. How to Stage an Intervention, the Follow-Up
The final stage in a drug intervention, an alcohol intervention, or a family intervention of any kind is to follow up and follow through. The loved one in question must choose to seek treatment or the participants must follow through with the consequences outlined. If the person struggling with addiction is not held to these consequences, he or she has little motivation to go through with treatment.

Participants can also follow up by being there for the loved one seeking treatment, by participating in family therapy, by setting up a home environment that promotes change and positive behaviors, and by seeking their own support for going through this difficult time. Knowing how to stage an intervention is not something everyone automatically understands, but if you plan, prepare and work with a professional, you can have an intervention that will work and bring about real change.

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