Tips for Hosting an Intervention

A family sets up an intervention for a male family member who looks visibly shocked by the confrontation.

If someone you love is exhibiting signs of addiction, then you’ll want to address it with them so that they can seek help. However, addiction is a sensitive topic for most, and you may not know how to broach the subject with your loved one. The first step is to gather family members, friends, and spiritual contacts together to help intervene in the situation and show your loved one that they are cared for and supported. Here are five tips to keep in mind when planning your intervention.

#1: Expect Resistance

Unfortunately, interventions can cause resistance and hostility. Too often, addiction is seen as a personal failing or weakness. The person at the center of the intervention may feel attacked or judged and may even walk out on the conversation. Expect this kind of negative reaction from them when faced with their addiction.

They may also attempt to turn the conversation around or assign blame for their past behaviors. It can be very hard to not take these accusations personally but remember that they are coming from a place of personal insecurity. If this can be too much to handle, then you may need to bring in a professional.

#2: Consider Bringing in an Intervention Specialist

If the person who is being intervened upon has a history of reacting negatively to confrontation, then you may want to be proactive in your attempts. Consider consulting a professional like an intervention specialist beforehand to help you navigate the meeting and prepare for any backlash or excuses that you might receive.

#3: Be Ready to Practice

The focus of the intervention should be to lay a groundwork of caring and support. Depending on how the person undergoing the interventions responds, they may not be open to pleasantries. In fact, they may become accusatory and belligerent. If you are doing this with a group, which is highly advised, then make sure to consult all of the group members and any professional resources that you’re using beforehand to ensure that you are all remained focused on the goal if the conversation derails.

#4: You May Need to Back Away

Very often, addiction in families has a lot of history and no small amount of baggage. If you’re trying to organize an intervention for a sibling and one of your parents struggled with addiction, for example, then there may be old issues that can come up during the conversation and either change the focus or worsen the mood. Working with an intervention specialist is one way to avoid this poisonous route.

If you feel that what’s being said throughout the meeting is derailing focus and turning to other members in the group, then your group is getting off-task, and this may move from an intervention to an attack. Make sure that everyone in the group knows they can and should step away if they feel retaliatory thoughts rising. Remember that your emotional well-being matters too. If you need to step back, do so.

#5: Be Ready to Give the Focus of the Intervention More Time

The initial conversations in the intervention may have little impact in the short term. Addicts often use their drug of choice to numb pain, and if they’re not willing to look at their feelings honestly at the moment, then be ready to give them time. The long-term goal of an intervention is to help the focus of the conversation seek treatment and possibly counseling. Addiction is a multi-layered illness and relates to the physical dependence on the drug as well as the emotional need for escape. If the focus of the intervention says they need time to think, then give it to them with the knowledge that they will be supported now and in the future.

Current psychology data tells us that isolation can contribute to addiction. When helping addicts to make better choices moving forward, community is key. If you care enough about someone to put together an intervention, they need to know that you will be there for them every step of the way.