If someone you love is struggling with addiction, it’s natural to feel frustrated — or even hopeless. Perhaps you talked to the person about their substance abuse, but you feel like it had little impact. Your loved one may be in denial about the seriousness of their problem, or simply never took the steps necessary to find help.

There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to convince your loved one to seek treatment, but sometimes intervention can be effective.

What is an intervention for addiction?

An intervention for addiction is an organized gathering of an addicted person’s loved ones who come together for the sole purpose of convincing their loved one to seek treatment. It is not a time to detail the poor choices the individual has made or to place blame on them, but a time to share the negative effects the addiction has had on everyone and help come up with a positive solution to get them the help they need.

Interventions should be done at a time and place that is neutral and peaceful, where everyone who is present is goal-oriented towards getting their loved one the treatment they need for the sake of improving their quality of life, mental health and physical health.

It’s possible to plan an intervention without any professional help, but it is wise to utilize the services of either a social worker, doctor or professional interventionist to ensure the process is effective and fruitful. A trained interventionist will help each participant to plan what they need to say, can help the group formulate a behavior intervention plan and can keep the conversation on track, preventing emotions from boiling over and derailing the situation.

An intervention should not involve too many people — addiction treatment experts agree that a large group can overwhelm the person and cause the intervention to fail. The recommended number of attendees is four to six people, and they should all be people who the target of the intervention loves and respects (this could be coworkers, cousins, siblings, friends, etc).

What’s the difference between intervention and prevention?

Usually, an intervention occurs when a drug or alcohol addiction has progressed to the point that both the struggling individual and their family/friends are suffering negative consequences. An intervention is, for lack of a better term, a last-ditch effort to get your loved one the treatment they need to improve their quality of life.

On the other hand, prevention is the steps taken to keep one’s risk factors for addiction low and/or nonexistent to either prevent addiction from occurring or help prevent relapse following rehab. Prevention is important because it can significantly reduce the risk of substance use, meaning an intervention may never be needed in an individual’s life after all.

When is intervention appropriate?

In a perfect world, every person suffering from a substance use disorder would make the choice to seek treatment on their own. However, denial can run deep. There are many cases when an intervention is the best way for friends and family to rally around their loved ones and offer help. Some signs that an intervention may be necessary include:

  • The person doesn’t see the dangerous consequences of substance abuse
  • The addicted person has been hospitalized for an episode related to their substance abuse
  • Children or other dependents of the person are being put at risk
  • The person talks about suicide or has attempted suicide

Remember that drug and alcohol addiction is an emotional topic — not only are you experiencing various emotions seeing your loved one struggling, but your loved one, too, is struggling with all the conflicting consequences of addiction. An intervention is best done when everyone is as mentally sound as possible, and negative emotions are less likely to get in the way of reasonable discussion.

Does it work?

Although most interventions are successful, there are times when these planned meetings do backfire. Emotions tend to run high at interventions, and it’s easy for tempers to get out of control. However, an intervention that is led by a professional is more likely to achieve the desired outcome. Research by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence shows that 90 percent of interventions managed by professionals conclude with the addicted person agreeing to seek treatment.

Planning an intervention won’t guarantee that your loved one will recover. However, an intervention can remind your loved one that you care about them and are ready to support them in their recovery. With the assistance of a professionally led intervention, you might be able to help your loved one break through the wall of denial and turn their life around.

Looking for a treatment facility?

When you sit down with a loved one during an intervention, it’s vital to have a game plan designed to help them seek recovery — it can come across better if you have a strategy for helping them in addition to pointing out the negative effects of addiction.

If you’re looking for a rehab facility, Silvermist Recovery is here to help. With a variety of addiction treatment programs, your loved one is likely to find the personalized help they need. Contact a counselor today to learn more.