what is an intervention & how to know if your loved one needs it?

Addiction is a lot like any other disease — it is complex, chronic and tends to get worse over time. You wouldn’t avoid seeing a doctor for heart disease or cancer, and getting treatment as soon as possible is just as important for properly diagnosing and managing a substance abuse disorder. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

Part of the reason is that it isn’t easy to get someone who is developing a serious drug or alcohol problem to see that they need help. However, one way that families accomplish this is through an intervention.

You’ve probably heard of interventions before — maybe you’ve seen the A&E show or have been through one yourself in the past. Still, you might not know much about the intervention process itself, how it works, or who should be running the show.

At Choice House, we know it’s important to understand when an intervention is necessary and how to approach the situation with care and compassion. If you’re thinking of staging an intervention for your loved one, keep reading to learn more about them, how they work, and when they’re appropriate to encourage someone to seek help.

what is an intervention?

An intervention is a carefully planned, organized attempt to get someone struggling with (typically) substance abuse to realize they have a problem and need help. It can also be used to address things like disordered eating, gambling, anger issues and more. No matter the reason for staging an intervention, it involves confronting an individual about their behavior and how it’s affecting others, but doing so in a loving and supportive way.

Interventions should ideally take place in a controlled environment under the guidance of a trained professional. However, more informal approaches can also be effective. The most important part is that friends, family members and other participants come prepared. Regardless of what the outcome is, treatment should be arranged ahead of time in case they accept, and the fallout of saying ‘no’ should also be spelled out clearly.

what does an intervention look like?

Interventions can be informal or formal. An informal intervention may be as simple as having a conversation with someone about their drug or alcohol use and encouraging them to seek help. In contrast, a formal intervention is more structured and may or may not include the help of a professional. If their addiction is out of control or you’re worried they may hurt themselves, a formal intervention might be a better option, followed by rehab.

Some of the basic steps you can expect during an intervention include:

  • Planning and organizing the intervention. At this stage, you’ll also determine which type of intervention will be used (formal, informal, family-based, etc.).
  • Preliminary conversations with participating friends, family members or professionals to develop talking points and consider possible outcomes.
  • Arrange and coordinate treatment at an appropriate rehab facility.
  • Figure out what you want to say and how to say it. Make notes or write a letter to ensure a productive and supportive conversation.
  • If you’ve opted for the professional route and hired an interventionist, they may recommend a rehearsal before involving your loved one.
  • Once everything is ready, the intervention itself can proceed.
  • Afterward, the intervention team will present an appropriate course of action, such as going to rehab. If accepted, follow through with these plans.

When successful, an intervention can get your loved one’s life back on track. But if they walk out or refuse to change their behavior, don’t lose hope. Sometimes, it takes several attempts to get through to someone, so another intervention can be rescheduled for a later date. In the meantime, be prepared to set clear boundaries and enforce them.

preparing for an intervention

Interventions don’t always go as planned — you may be met with anger, hostility or an outright refusal to change. A professional can help the process go a little smoother, but there are also some steps you can take to increase your chances of success:

  • Call around and make arrangements for rehab in advance so treatment can begin right away if they say yes. On the flip side, set boundaries, so it’s clear what the consequences are if they refuse help (i.e., asking them to move out).
  • Take a deep breath, and don’t neglect your own needs. This will help you stay calm and focused.
  • Getting angry or defensive can easily backfire.
  • Don’t attempt an intervention for someone that is currently under the influence. Wait until they’ve sobered up before proceeding.
  • If you’re coordinating an intervention with friends, family members and other concerned parties, work together to present a united front. There’s no room for blame or turning against each other.
  • Be prepared for a number of reactions and emotions. It’s common for some people to lash out or try to shift focus away from their own behaviors.
  • People often think they “aren’t hurting anyone but themselves” by using drugs and alcohol. Gather evidence or write letters showing them that’s just not true.

how do I know if my loved one needs an intervention?

Determining whether your loved one needs an intervention isn’t always an easy task. However, if you’re asking the question, the answer is likely yes. Most often, people stage an intervention when all other efforts to get through have failed, and they’re at the end of their rope. Some other signs that it might be time for an intervention include:

  • Your loved one’s drug or alcohol use is intensifying
  • Their behavior has gotten riskier and more destructive
  • You often catch them lying to you
  • They ignore their daily responsibilities
  • Their mental, emotional and physical health is declining
  • They’re mixing dangerous drug combinations
  • You’ve had enough and want them to get better

Many people with substance abuse issues will have trouble looking at their life objectively and deny that they have a problem, so don’t take their word that “everything is fine.” Instead, watch out for these and other signs to help determine if an intervention is necessary.

choosing the right treatment center

The goal of an intervention is to get your loved one to seek help, so choosing a treatment center that’s a good fit can make all the difference. That’s why it’s important to do your research and get a feel for the places you have in mind ahead of time. After all, you know your loved one best and probably have a good idea of what they’ll enjoy.

Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, is specifically geared toward the needs of men with an active lifestyle who enjoy spending time in nature. We combine deeply personalized long-term treatment plans with adventure and wilderness-based therapies that include things like hiking, rock wall climbing, skiing, kayaking, golfing and more. Here, our clients have the opportunity to heal from addiction while having fun and forming strong bonds with others.

We also take the time to address the underlying causes of substance abuse, such as mental health and trauma. By treating the whole person and building a strong foundation of lasting recovery, we give each individual the best chance at achieving lifelong sobriety.

Knowing when to stage an intervention isn’t always an easy task. You want to make sure the timing is right and that your loved one will be receptive to the idea. If you’re thinking about staging an intervention but aren’t sure where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out. Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, can provide you with some advice and guidance and help determine if our treatment center is a good fit should they say ‘yes.’ To learn more or speak to one of our admissions specialists, click here or call us today at 303-578-4982. You can also email us at hello@choicehouse.com.

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