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drug intervention

Taking a Stand: A Loved One’s Guide on How to Stage a Drug Intervention

If you have a loved one who is battling to kick a drug habit, or even unaware that they have a problem, you need to act fast.

Every day in the USA, over 130 people die from conditions related to Opioid abuse. Don’t let your friend become one of them.

It’s time for drug intervention, and here’s how to go about it.

Understanding What an Intervention Is

An intervention is a gathering of concerned people to give an addicted person a nudge toward rehabilitation.

It is not a blame-throwing session or a chance to attack the subject of the intervention. It is an attempt to intervene in these destructive habits and get help for the addict. 

Due to the sensitive nature of interventions, it’s important to stick to a few guidelines. 

1. Pick the Participants Carefully

An intervention should always proceed in a firm but loving way. Only involve people that have an interest in the wellbeing of the addict.

An intervention is not the place to look for apologies from the addict or make excuses for them. It should only involve laying out the facts and offering solutions.

For this reason, don’t include people that have a grudge against the addict. If they feel uncomfortable around any of the attendees, they may clam up or refuse to participate.

If your loved one’s boss has a good relationship with them and genuine interest in their welfare, they might want to join in.  

A professional intervention specialist can ensure that the proceedings stay on track and go as planned.

2. Timing Is Everything

Choose a time of day when the addict is likely to be as drug-free as possible. It is difficult to get through to someone when they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

They could become aggressive and uncooperative. Early morning is usually a good time to hold an intervention.

While it is a manipulative tactic, it can help to hold your intervention shortly after the addict has had an unpleasant incident involving their drug of choice. 

3. Use a Private Place for Drug Intervention

Ideally, you want to place the addict a little out of their comfort zone when holding an intervention.

Holding it at home gives them too many opportunities to escape behind a locked door.

Choose another private place where they feel at ease, like a community hall, church, or club. If you choose to use an intervention specialist they will have an office available.

4. Keep Structure 

The intervention should have a very specific structure. 

Each member of the team gets a chance to provide exact examples of the addict’s destructive behavior and how it affects them directly.

The term, ”you always” has no place at an intervention. 

Once everyone has stated their case, present the desired outcome. This could be in- or out-patient rehab, counseling, holistic treatments, or mandatory attendance of 12-step meetings.

Asking the person to stop using drugs is not a solution – they can’t stop on their own.

Lastly, each person delivers an ultimatum defining the consequences if the addict does not agree to treatment. 

The order in which people speak can affect the outcome of the intervention.  

Try to start and end with a bang – let those with the closest emotional attachment to the addict speak first and last. 

For example, during a family intervention, it can be very effective if a beloved child takes the stand first and the spouse ends.

5. Practice in Advance

Since things can get heated during an intervention, each person should know exactly what they are going to say in advance.

Practice your speech alone and together with other members of the group before you meet with the addict. 

In this way, you can set up a script, avoid duplicating points and get more information across.

6. Don’t Go off Script

The more you rehearse, the less likely it is that you will leave out important points in the heat of the moment. 

Once you’ve fine-tuned what everyone is going to say, each participant should write down exactly what they are going to say.

Don’t ad lib on the day, you’ll let the rest of the team down. 

7. Watch Your Body Language

An intervention can be a tense event but be careful to adopt a relaxed and approachable stance during proceedings.

Keep your arms and legs uncrossed. Look at the person, lean in for emphasis, and tilt your shoulders toward them when speaking to them. Keep your hands unclenched.

On the whole, interventions should have a loving warm feel, despite the hurtful subject matter. Don’t let signs of tension and aggression creep into your body language.

8. Remain Calm

Likewise, keep your voice low and your emotions under control.

Addicts can be volatile at times. You don’t want to add fuel to an already sensitive situation.

Allowing things to spiral out of control and result in an angry shouting match, is against everything that an intervention stands for.

9. Have a Backup Plan

Despite your best intentions, things could go horribly wrong.

The addict may storm out of the room, crying hysterically, or stand their ground becoming defensive and argumentative.

They could verbally, or even physically attack the other participants. Have a script in place for all of these eventualities.

Severe withdrawal symptoms are one of the biggest objections and stumbling blocks for addicts that stop taking drugs. Have a plan for that too.  

10. Don’t Stop Trying

Sometimes it takes many interventions for a drug addict to see the light. Some people may happily agree to treatment on the first go.

Whatever happens, your loved one needs your support to find their way to recovery. 

What Are the Options for Treatment? 

One of the biggest obstacles when searching for outcomes during a drug intervention is that the addict must put their life on hold while attending treatment.

Don’t let this put you off, there are other ways that aren’t as time-consuming and invasive. 

Get in touch to discuss our short-term treatment options and set your loved one on the road to recovery.