Six Steps for a Family Intervention

So many of our inquiries come from family members and other loved ones of people addicted to opioids that I thought it might be helpful to list the steps that people should keep in mind before executing an intervention.   The post below is taken in large part from a USNews article from December 2016 entitled "How to Stage an Intervention". 

As the article points out, addiction and the behaviors associated with it, only get worse over time. Things will not get better unless the addict finds treatment.

Steps for a productive intervention:

  1.  Educate yourself--learn as much as you can about the disease.  The medical community defines the disease as "opioid use disorder".  There are plenty of resources on our website and others that improve your understanding of what you and your loved one is facing.
  2. Involve a moderator--There are professional intervention consultants, but don't feel obligated to hire someone.  The pastor at your church might be a good choice as an alternative.  Finding someone to act as a "translator" between you and your loved one may help to defuse emotions and allow for a more constructive discussion.
  3. Be direct but don't attack--Explain your concerns and how their disease is impacting you and others in your family, but don't criticize.  Almost all addicts feel tremendous shame associated with their disease.  Don't make it worse. 
  4. Discuss the consequences of not seeking help--If you are considering an intervention, life has become unbearable for you.  The intervention needs to include some discussion of an ultimatum if the addict does not seek treatment.  You must be prepared to follow through, so empty threats will only backfire.
  5. Propose specific treatment alternatives--You need to propose specific addiction treatment alternatives.  There are a range of options.  Be prepared to talk about the trade offs and propose your preferred treatment alternative.  
  6. Manage your expectations--Remember that opioid addiction is a chronic disease.  There is no magic cure.  The days and years ahead will involve both progress and setbacks.