Few things can be more heartbreaking than seeing someone you deeply care about lost in the throes of addiction. They may be unable to see all the ways their actions are hurting themselves and you, and you may feel desperate to help them and get them to change their behavior.
Ultimately, the decision to seek help and get sober is one that only the addict can make for him or her self. However, a well-done intervention, or a carefully created gathering of close friends and family who can communicate concern, can often go a long way in helping an addict realize his or her need for change.
Here are a few ways to go into an intervention prepared, to make it run smoothly and be more likely to be successful.
1. Ensure a Non-confrontational Approach
An intervention group should involve people who share out of their own experience with someone’s addiction, and then communicate their concern about how it affects them. Therefore, it is very important to involve people who are close to the person in question, and are going to be able to give direct, concrete examples of how the drug use is harmful to them.
Everyone involved should be able to both have the trust of the person involved, but also be able to speak clearly about how damaging the addictive behavior truly is.
2. Choose an appropriate time and place
Do everything you can to minimize distractions and stress, so that the person can truly listen. The time and location should be a comfortable one, and one that will maximize the potential of being listened to and received well. The time of day should be one where the person will be available and sober. The place should be private, and neutral so that he or she will be able to pay attention.
3. Set Defined Goals
The intervention should end with you asking the person to engage in some sort of concrete goal to accept a recovery treatment. It is around this goal that you should structure the entire intervention. Having a concrete action step is the only way you will be able to tell that your words have truly been received and will lead to the person seeking help.
Have a support group, counselor, or treatment center picked out in advance will make things as easy as possible for the person to choose recovery. Everyone involved should be supportive of this goal, and encouraging it with unity and singularity of focus.
4. Thoughtful Communication
An intervention can be a very high-stressed time and it can be hard to communicate appropriately. It is very important that everyone stay on message, speaking clearly about how the person’s behavior affects them, and how they should receive help. Rehearsing, carefully writing their words out, and thoughtful consideration to order can help people communicate in a clear, loving, and effective way.
Supportive and positive language will be more effective than judgmental or confrontational tones, so encourage people to speak in “I” statements about their own feelings and experiences, rather than accusatory “you” statements. Help people focus on body language that communicates warmness and openness, such as eye contact, leaning in, and keeping hands open and unclenched.
5. Be prepared for anything
The person may respond with openness to your prepared intervention, but he or she may also become defensive or angry, emotionally attacking others in the room to avoid dealing with the issue at hand. It is important that you keep cool no matter what, and do not let the intervention get off track or dissolve into attacking the person.
Think about how to handle different responses that might come up, and also become emotionally prepared for anything to happen. Even if the person is unable to hear you right now, confronting the person with the truth can make a big difference down the line. Do not give up.