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What to Do When You Have Decided to Have an Intervention

Deciding to have an intervention for a friend or loved one is a major step toward encouraging them to seek professional help. However, you may be left wondering, “What, exactly, do we do?” An intervention can go very positively when planned well but may take a turn for the worse if you overlook key considerations.

Where and When

One of the most important aspects of setting the overall tone of the intervention is deciding where and when to hold the event:

  • You’ll want to find a place that is private enough to air personal details but not a place that would make the person feel uncomfortable.
  • Think about how everyone will get to the intervention location and who will bring the person struggling with addiction.
  • Also try to plan the intervention for a time of day that works with the person’s schedule. If you know he gets drunk right after work every weekday, perhaps a weekend would be better.

Who to (and Not to) Invite to the Intervention

The specific arrangements of the intervention depend on your unique situation, but there are some general guidelines that may make things easier. Every single person attending the intervention should be on board with the party message (i.e., that the person is struggling with addiction and needs treatment).

For example, inviting the person’s friend John who parties and still does cocaine with him frequently may not be a good choice. However, a former drinking buddy who is concerned about your loved one’s recent behavior and choices would be appropriate.

In general, you want to have enough people to signal that many people are concerned about the person dealing with addiction, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Generally, the format of an intervention includes providing specific examples of behaviors or actions that have impacted the addicted person and her loved ones, according to the Mayo Clinic. Each person present may wish to speak for a minute or two about their perception of the person’s addiction.

This can be uncomfortable or nerve-wracking, so it’s important to rehearse exactly what you plan to say. Make a bulleted list on a notecard if it helps you. Having a well-rehearsed plan prevents the intervention from becoming derailed.

Make a Specific List of Consequences

An intervention needs to have “teeth” to be an effective way to convince someone to seek help. Accordingly, it’s appropriate to make a list of consequences that each present person agrees to uphold if the target person does not agree to a treatment plan.

This might include:

  • Leaving the vicinity when the person is under the influence
  • Refusing to drink (even socially) with him
  • Requiring that he move out of the house if he is sharing a living space with one of the intervention members

Never make a threat that you do not intend to carry out. If a consequence is on the list, it’s important that each intervention member be prepared to stick to it.

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