Common Mistakes to Avoid When Planning an Intervention for a Loved One

Intervention

Many people are struggling with drug addiction. According to data from the World Health Organization, over 31 million people have drug use disorder worldwide. Even though addiction causes a lot of problems, the patients find it difficult to quit.

This forces family and friends to assist them in undertaking treatment through intervention. However, an intervention can only be successful through proper planning, and implementation, failure to do so means a lot could go wrong.

Here’re the mistakes to avoid when planning an intervention.

What Is an Intervention?

Before diving into how not to conduct an intervention, it is essential to understand what it is. An intervention is either a formal or informal meeting of family, friends, and sometimes professionals to inspire behavior change of someone addicted to alcohol or drugs.

During the intervention, you’ll discuss how your loved ones’ addiction is affecting your lives and theirs as well. You encourage him or her to get treatment for the addiction.

The intervention combines education and support and is aimed at providing your loved one with the structured opportunity to change for the better. Your addicted loved one may be in denial or find it challenging to face the harsh realities of their situation. They’ll need your help to make the step towards recovery finally.

Your loved one needs intervention if he or she:

  • Is unable to control substance use despite the effects.
  • Is oblivious to the problems they’ve placed themselves in
  • Is in denial of the addiction and underlying health problems
  • Has personal, financial, social, and professional difficulties due to the addiction
  • Remains unreceptive to family and friend’s opinions and feelings about the addiction

Mistakes to Avoid When Planning an Intervention for a Loved One

Here’re some of the common mistakes you should avoid when planning and executing an intervention.

Inadequate Preparation

A lot of things can go wrong during an intervention if you don’t plan. Professionals may not attend due to a lack of communication. The patient may be unwilling to listen to you because of the wrong timing.

Here’re some preparations you can make:

1. Learn About Drug and Alcoholism

Research and get all the relevant information about drug or alcohol your loved one is abusing. Learning makes you understand what drug addicts go through. And you’ll treat them with respect.

In the intervention stage, your loved one may ask you some questions, which you could only answer if you did your research. You’ll need facts to convince your loved one to seek drug detox or alcohol treatment.

2. Help Yourself First

Your loved ones’ choices have probably affected you too. You may be in a negative state of mind. It’s best to approach him or her when you’re sober.

If you’re holding grudges with the patient, then you aren’t in the right state of mind to intervene.

Hosting at the Wrong Place

If you choose a place that the patient doesn’t like, they probably won’t turn up. If they attend, they may resent any attempt to persuade them to go for treatment.

Again, you don’t want to get distracted by the sound of hooting cars, loud music, or playing kids while you’re in the middle of a meaningful conversation. Your patient is already stressed up with drugs and doesn’t need a stressful environment.

Somewhere private is always better. The individual should feel safe and comfortable wherever you want to perform the intervention. The environment should be quiet and free from distractions.

A pleasant environment creates a peace of mind which will work in everyone’s favor. Where possible, the patient should decide where the intervention should take place.

Staging Intervention During the Patient’s Worst Moment

Truth be told, you wouldn’t want to face people at your worst moment. Unless it’s inevitable. Likewise, the patient wouldn’t feel comfortable when you come to them when they’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

When your loved ones are high or drunk, they may not even recognize you. They wouldn’t want to be told what to do at that moment.

They would easily become defensive, thinking you’re there to criticize them. If the patient is high, they’re not in the right mind to have a discussion or listen to whatever you’re saying. Make sure the time is right.

Therefore, approach your patient when they are sober for meaningful conversation.

Carrying out an Intervention Without Prior Consultation with the Loved One

Since a group intervention can be very intimidating. You don’t approach someone and start a discussion they never agreed to. They’re likely not to listen to you if you never informed them of the pending ‘talk’.

Most likely, you’ll bring a professional, who is a stranger to your loved one, to assist you. Talking to a stranger about personal matters requires preparation.

Even though you don’t have to share all the details of the impending intervention with them, at least they should know there would be a discussion so that they get prepared.

Being Confrontational, Defensive, or Aggressive

Anger, blame, shame and judgment won’t be taken lightly by the patient. Instead, they’ll resent you more. Even when you know you’re wrong, you still wouldn’t expect to be treated with disrespect.

This is not the time to remind them of all the wrongs they’ve done unto you. It’s not the time to talk about the financial problems, emotional turmoil, and psychological stress they’ve put you through. It’s the wrong time to remind someone of the mistakes they’ve done before.

Remember you are there to help, not to attack them.

Again, you aren’t there to pity them. It’s time to treat them with the utmost respect, for them to believe you are genuinely interested in helping. With no respect, even if the patient thinks your idea will be beneficial, they’ll strongly oppose it.

Thus, if you won’t control your anger or temper, let someone else, preferably a professional, do the talking. Intervention is likely to be successful if you offer compassionate support, patience, and understanding toward the patient.

Failure to Follow Up

Do you have any plans after the intervention? If not, then you aren’t yet ready for it.

Your loved one will need guidance even after intervention. When your loved one accepts to follow through with the detox or recovery program, you don’t leave them and hope they’ll proceed on their own.

Quitting an addiction is difficult. It’s a struggle that requires an individual’s willpower and support from close members. If you don’t follow up, they may never proceed beyond the intervention.

With a follow-up, even if your loved one initially said no to a recovery program, they may change their mind when they see how serious you’re about recovery. Follow up will help you detect when your loved one needs help, and enable them to get treatment and improve their quality of life.

Failure to Involve a Professional

Well, it’s possible to do the intervention with the help of friends and relatives. But sometimes, involving a professional is inevitable. A professional is trained to handle different situations and outcomes that you would find difficult to face.

Again, there’re some questions which only a professional would have answers to. It’s easier for people to give a listening ear to a professional than any other person. There’s that feeling of ‘professionals know what they’re talking about’ when someone listens to a professional.

Thus, seek the help of professionals during the intervention, you may need it.

Involving the Wrong People

You won’t do it alone. You’ll need your friends and professional who can answer your friend’s questions. Choose properly the kind of friends you would involve to help you talk to your friend.

Generally, you shouldn’t involve too many people. They risk intimidating your loved one. A small group of about four to eight is advisable. People with a history of attacking or criticizing your loved one shouldn’t be present.

Only invite those who know your loved one well enough; they understand the habits and behavior surrounding the addiction. When choosing a specialist, only go for a trained addiction specialist. Picking the wrong specialist is worse than not bringing one at all.

In short, anybody who won’t add any value to the intervention process isn’t welcomed.

Accepting Excuses

Your partner will likely come up with many excuses for why they shouldn’t seek addiction treatment. Don’t give in to excuses they give to avoid taking responsibilities, or because they’re in denial.

Here’re common excuses you shouldn’t listen to:

  • They’re in control and can quit whenever they want
  • It’s their problem, and they aren’t hurting anyone
  • Their problem is beyond help
  • They’ll get treatment later

Whenever excuses arise, stand your ground and let them understand their addiction affects others too. Assure them that every addiction is treatable.

Giving Up After the First Attempt

Well, your loved one made it obvious he or she doesn’t need treatment and will never consider it. Don’t get angry and give up on them. Keep persisting without using force.

It’s not common for an addict to accept your proposal for treatment in the first trial. Even if they get defensive or perhaps violent, that shouldn’t make you give up.

Not Being Ready for Unexpected Outcomes

Addiction patients are often unpredictable; they can be mean or violent when you try to bring up what they’re going through. Even when everything was carefully planned, there’s a chance something will go wrong.

But did you prepare to face them? Here’re some results that can throw you off-balance.

  • Your loved one is drunk or high on drugs on the day of the intervention
  • One of your team members lose focus and fail you during the intervention
  • Your loved one becomes violent
  • Your loved one refuses treatment amidst all the preparations you made.

Such outcomes can emotionally drain you if you never thought they would be possible. Thus, understand your friend may refuse to accept the help you are offering.

They may start the program but give up on the way. They may get too difficult to deal with. But if you prepare for all these negative outcomes, you will understand and stick by them no matter what.

Not Sticking to the Terms and Conditions

Ultimatums can often work on your favor. When your loved one imagines the repercussions of continuing to take alcohol or abuse drugs, they may consider seeking treatment.

You already told your partner about the consequences of not going for detox or recovery treatment. Maybe you informed them you’ll no longer support them financially, or you’ll file for a change of custody for your children.

Whatever you promised you’ll do, stick to it even when you feel you’re being unfair.

Once your partner realizes you didn’t mean your promises, they’ll just continue using drugs and alcohol. However, when you use an ultimatum, don’t go overboard, make them realistic and achievable.

No Way Forward Beyond the Intervention

If you only planned for the intervention, what happens once your loved one accept to seek help? They’ll be stuck, and are likely not to undergo treatment to live a better life. Even if they want to seek help, they may not know how to proceed.

Thus, you should have a clear idea of what the treatment plan should entail. A professional would advise whether your loved one requires outpatient therapy, a 12-step program, or inpatient rehab.

Failure to Rehearse Before Delivering Intervention

It’s a big mistake to skip a rehearsal because you think it’s unnecessary. Rehearsal is very important, especially when a professional interventionist is part of the intervention.

Here’s where you discuss all the details about the intervention which include:

  • What will be said and who to say it
  • How the addicted loved one will arrive at the intervention
  • Move forward in terms of treatment

Does Your Loved One Need an Intervention?

Does your loved one need an intervention? Beware of these issues that can impede the process and water down your efforts to get them help. Take the right steps to help them start the journey towards sobriety.

Once your loved one is ready for a recovery process, help them check in at our drug and alcohol detox facility for treatment.

 

 

 

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Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.