What Not To Do During An Intervention

What Not To Do During An Intervention

If people you care about are addicted to either drugs or alcohol, you will likely want to do everything in your power to help them. One way to achieve that is by staging an intervention. This is a fantastic opportunity to reconnect and to show your loved ones that you care and that you want them to have access treatment so that they can get better. An intervention is something positive, in which people regain hope for their future. However, the process has to be completed properly if it is to be successful.

Staging a Proper Intervention

There are a lot of information out there on how to properly stage an intervention. You can also seek out the help of a professional interventionist, who can guide you through the process.

“An interventionist is a helpful tool for individual, family members, colleague or friend who is resistant to addressing his or her problem. When people are initially resistant and then enter treatment due to an intervention and therapeutic relationship with an interventionist, they and their network do very well due to the support, networking, collaboration and aftercare.”

Getting help from an interventionist is particularly important if the individual is likely to react in an unpredictable manner. Veterans with PTSD, those with co-occurring mental health disorders, and those on highly stimulant drugs, for instance, may become violent or aggressive during an intervention. In those cases, having someone on board who can recognize an escalating situation is absolutely vital.

What Not to Do During an Intervention

There are a number of key things that you should avoid during an intervention. For instance:

1. Do not invite people on the intervention team who will not bring something positive. It may be tempting to invite, for instance, an ex-spouse who has left the relationship because of the substance abuse, as you feel this may demonstrate the damage that has been done. Addicted individuals are well-aware of the damage they have done, but they just feel powerless to stop it. Some people do follow the tough love approach, but this is highly risky and should only be done with professional support.

“Today, many psychologists believe that implementing the tactics of tough love should be used as a last resort, for those addicts who are facing death and absolute destruction if their disease is left unchecked.”

2. Do not try to ‘wing it’. An intervention has to be properly planned if it is to be successful. You have to consider who will be there, what will be said, who will say things and in which order, where the intervention will take place, how to respond to eventualities, and more. You should rehearse your intervention and write a script, and those who are part of the team should stick to the script.

3. Do not forget to have a treatment program in place. The aim of an intervention is for addicted people to go into treatment immediately. If they agree to get treatment, but they have to wait days, weeks, or months before they can attend it, their resolve may likely falter. Hence, a key part of your plan should be to have treatment in place immediately.

“One of the biggest mistakes that families make when helping an addicted loved one is putting off treatment. They may choose to delay treatment because their loved one seemed very open to the idea of treatment or asked for “one last hurrah” before being sent off to a rehab facility.”

4. Do not use the intervention to accuse and judge the addicted individual. The reality is that you will likely have been very hurt by the behavior of your loved one. They are aware of that, but as previously stated, incapable of doing anything about it. You cannot be vindictive or confrontational if you hope your intervention to be a success.

“The object of the intervention is to confront a problem, not a person. Those who attend an intervention have been hurt by the drug addict or had their trust violated should not use this opportunity to lash out at the individual for past transgressions.”

This is one of the many reasons why you should properly prepare for and rehearse your intervention. It is all too easy to start to get angry, particularly if your loved one does not immediately respond in the way that you had hoped for. It is vital that you do not lose your temper or get angry, no matter how your loved one reacts.

Intervention Success Rates

It has been difficult to determine the success rates of interventions. This is due to a number of issues. Firstly, there are many different forms of intervention, some more formal than others. A greater difficulty lies in the definition of ‘success’. For instance, many people have gone to treatment as a result of interventions, but far less have remained sober for life, or for a set period of time. However, overall, it is accepted that interventions work, because anyone who does get help is one less person living a life of addiction.

“When done with a person who is trained and successfully experienced as an interventionist, over 90% of people make a commitment to get help.”

It is also important to understand that addiction is a chronic disease. Relapse is not just common, it is seen as an integral part of the overall recovery process. Relapse provides both the addicted people and their treatment team with an opportunity to adjust the treatment that is being provided so that it will continue to be appropriate. If patients agree to get help during an intervention but then relapse several months or years later, therefore, it cannot be said that the intervention was unsuccessful. In fact, if even so much as a seed is planted that might, down the line, encourage individuals to seek the help that they so desperately need, the intervention can be seen as a success. This is why the final thing you should not do in an intervention is give up. There is always hope.

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About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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