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9 Tips for Planning an Intervention for a Friend or Loved One

Using intervention techniques when suggesting that a loved one should seek addiction treatment makes the process easier and more likely to be successful.

Interventions create change and allow family and friends to take a loving stance for the benefit of a loved one. They allow everyone involved the opportunity to talk about the situation and how the effects of substance abuse and alcoholism travel far beyond the person addicted to them.

Intervention strategies - Addiction recovery and treatment

What is an intervention?

An intervention is a pre-arranged formal or informal meeting of family and friends with the aim of inspiring a change in behaviour. It is not a personal attack.

However, if not planned and executed with care, the person being confronted may feel attacked and may respond negatively.

Additionally, interventions are stressful for those who are planning it. By following these tips and intervention strategies, we hope to ease the process, ensuring that it is both executed and received in the best possible way.

9 helpful intervention techniques

• Carefully choose your team members

The people involved are there to encourage the addicted person to seek help, these people must be chosen with absolute care.

Only people with a meaningful relationship with the addicted person should be present as this provides a safe space and fosters trust. Due to the motivational nature of an intervention, people who will provide loving encouragement should be invited to attend. A professional interventionist may be appointed to help with collaborating a team as well as implementing a plan.

• The right time is vital

Talking to someone about their addiction when they are intoxicated is a bad idea and should be avoided. Choosing a time when the person is sober or as close to sober as possible is important. Being intoxicated directly affects a person’s ability to think logically and respond calmly and this will jeopardise the success of the intervention. Intervening after a drug or alcohol related incident may be the perfect opportunity as you can use the incident as a foundation for the intervention.

• Location

A neutral yet comfortable location is the best option for an intervention. Although you want the person to feel safe, providing too much safety may prove to be counter-productive so avoid using a home environment. The addicted person should not have an open opportunity to hide behind a closed door. However, you don’t want them to feel trapped either as this may cause them to retaliate. A therapist’s room or office may be a good place to hold the intervention.

• Order of speakers

The order of speakers is critical because once the person agrees or disagrees to seek treatment, the intervention is over. Arranging for the right person to speak at the right time will result in a successful intervention. The person who has the most loving relationship with the addicted person should speak first and perhaps a spouse or parent can speak closer to the end when the person is more inclined to make a change. However, each situation is unique and hearing suggestions from someone new may be better for the person who is being confronted.

• Rehearse

Practice makes perfect. Interventions can cause emotions to run high and this can cause people to lose track of what they want to say. Rehearsing this will help people stand firmly in what they would like to say without letting emotions getting involved. Rehearsing also allows family members to prepare for possible reactions that may arise. Being prepared for any possible response will contribute to the success of the intervention.

• Use positive body language

It is not what you say but how you say it and this is particularly true in interventions. Pay attention to your body language and avoid any gestures that may come across as intimidating. Keep your arms and legs uncrossed, maintain healthy eye contact without glaring, keep your hands open and unclenched and point your body in the direction of the person you are speaking to. Combining loving words of encouragement with warm body language creates a place of safety for the addicted person and sends a clear and balanced message.

• Manage emotions

Keeping cool during a heated conversation is sometimes difficult but extremely important in the case of an intervention. If the confronted person retaliates with aggression or anger, it is important for you to remain calm and not raise your voice. Fighting fire with fire will not achieve anything.

• Plan B

Due to the unpredictable nature of an addicted person, it is important to have a backup plan for in case the intervention did not go according to plan. Brainstorming possible scenarios can help you prepare the best ways to respond. The scenarios might include the addicted person crying hysterically, saying hurtful things or storming out of the room. Being flexible in these situations is the best the intervention team can do.

• Never give up

There is no guarantee that your first intervention will be successful. It may require a few conversations of similar nature to finally encourage the addicted person to make a positive change towards recovery. The key is to have patience and to never give up on your loved one. They need you to show them that you care and only want the best for them. Keep encouraging but never force them. Always come from a place of love and remind them that you believe in them.

Making use of these intervention techniques can help you minimise the stress involved with interventions. Being fully prepared for the intervention is vital in ensuring its success.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre in Port Elizabeth - Addiction Intervention and Addiction Recovery South Africa

Contact Step Away for assistance with choosing appropriate intervention techniques as well as effective addiction recovery treatment.

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