How to Stage a Successful Intervention

If you feel your friend or family member is steeped in a dangerous addiction, staging an intervention can be an effective way to get that person to seek help. The key is it has to be done well. Here are a few tips to ensure that you put together an effective intervention:

Plan it out.

Go to the people around him or and speak to them privately about the idea of an intervention. You want the people closest to him, who care about him, and who he cares about as well. Even if you do not like someone who he cares about, it’s important to let these biases be put aside for the purpose of this. If he doesn’t care about the people confronting him, it won’t work. He has to respect these people, and value their opinions. The threat of these people walking out on him needs to have great impact. Keep the group on the smaller side: no need to invite the whole, extended family. Try to keep the number in single digits, if you can. A more intimate group will be more effective. It also has to be clear that this intervention is a surprise, to keep the addict from avoiding the situation.

Seek additional help.

It may be beneficial to talk to an interventionist, who can guide you through the intervention process and, if requested, be present during the intervention. Having an addiction specialist present can help moderate the group if the group does not know what they are doing.

Prepare in advance.

With or without the interventionist, the group should meet beforehand to lay out how they will approach the addict and what they will say to him. Treatment options should be researched in advance, so that help can be suggested and offered immediately. It may be good for everyone to have a speech or something to say written out beforehand, so that everyone’s impact can be felt on the person. That way, everyone can adjust their speeches if they sound too blaming, rather than loving. The tone of the intervention is extremely crucial. Everyone then also should offer an ultimatum to push the addict to action. It may be difficult to do this for many, but it is one of the keys to an effective intervention. Preparing in advance can also clue in the group to any rejections or resistance that the addict may show towards the group.

Be careful during the intervention.

Keep the atmosphere positive. You want the addict to know you are here to help, not to blame. Also, keep the discussion about “I” and not “you.” By doing this, you are speaking about your feelings, and not pointing fingers. This person will be defensive, so don’t insult or berate him. If the interventionist is there, he can help talk through the objections.

Take immediate action.

Following the intervention, the addict will either admit it or deny it. If he admits it, escort him to his place, help him pack a bag, and take him to a treatment center for admission. If he denies it, unfortunately, the ultimatum’s consequences must begin immediately. Hopefully, the lack of his loved ones supporting him will prompt him to take action in a few days.