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When Should I Stage an Intervention?

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It is easy to feel helpless when a family member or close friend is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. Although you show support in whatever ways you can, when your loved one continues to use or relapses frequently it is difficult to set boundaries and avoid enabling their destructive behavior.

You shouldn’t blame yourself for your loved one’s actions. However, it is important to know when stepping in to stage an intervention would be appropriate.

What to say at an Intervention

“An intervention should be held when someone’s quality of life is suffering as a result of their drinking or substance abuse, the families’ and loved ones’ efforts to resolve the behavior have been ineffective and the identified person is displaying resistance or reluctance to enter treatment,” said Meredith Meng, certified interventionist.

An intervention is different than simply confronting your loved one about their substance use. An intervention usually consists of a group of four to six family members and/or friends who disclose to the identified person how their destructive behaviors have impacted them. Rather than asking your loved one to stop using on their own, an intervention should include which treatment options available for them. If the appeal is successful, getting your loved one into a treatment facility immediately is ideal, as any additional time between the conclusion of the intervention and admission to a facility could give them time to drink or use drugs.

Reaching out to a professional to help you stage an intervention could save their life.

Should I Hire an Interventionist?

Many families will hold interventions on their own but hiring a professional interventionist to facilitate should be carefully considered.  If the person suffering with addiction has histories of mental illness, suicide attempts, violence or has a tumultuous relationship with family members, hiring an interventionist might be appropriate.

“Key players in the identified person’s life should be involved and must be equipped to stand united with the support team,” Meng said. “This can often be difficult to accomplish without a professional present due to the potential for emotions to run rampant, desperation in the moment, hostility, unexpected variables in the identified persons’ circumstances and manipulation.”

These factors may be hard to avoid without a professional and could change the identified person’s mind about entering treatment. Without an interventionist a family might make negotiations with the identified person that are not in the best interest of either party.

If a loved one is struggling with alcohol, prescription drugs, opioids, heroin or methamphetamine use and seems unwilling to enter treatment, there is help. Not sure where to start? Check out our Levels of Care, including medical detox and inpatient treatment. 

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