Six Steps for a Family Intervention

So many of our inquiries come from family members and other loved ones of people suffering from substance use disorder. So many that we thought it might be helpful to explain how to hold an intervention for a loved one.

The family plays a major role in helping a person succeed in overcoming addiction. The goal of a family intervention is to create a loving and supportive path toward recovery. Additionally, the process can educate and engage loved ones in changing their own behavior towards someone who uses substances.

This blog discusses what an intervention is, its benefits, and what to do before, during, and after an intervention.

What is an Intervention?

An addiction intervention is a planned process where family, friends, an addiction counselor or professional care provider gather to confront a person about the consequences of substance use and ask them about receiving treatment.

During this process, the loved ones provide specific examples of the person's destructive behavior and their impact on their lives. In addition, they offer a treatment plan and lay out clear goals and guidelines.

Who Should Be Present at an Intervention?

A drug intervention should include family and friends, in conjunction with a licensed drug counselor or intervention professional. It can also involve a member of the faith or other persons who deeply care about the person who is struggling with substance use disorder. There are different types of intervention approaches, all of which are designed to improve outcomes for the person and their caregivers.

What are the Benefits of an Intervention?

Behavioral therapies like family interventions are not solely about improving the person's relationship with family members. This guided approach exists to encourage those suffering from drug abuse to adopt healthy life skills, change their attitude toward drug use, and most importantly, to begin treatment.

Family-based interventions can address a wide range of problems that can affect a person's substance use, such as conflict and family communication, learning or mental health disorders, problems with school or work, and issues with peer networks.

How to Prepare for an Intervention

Preparing for a drug intervention starts by consulting an addiction professional, such as a licensed drug counselor, an intervention specialist, or social worker, or a psychologist. The health provider will take into account the person's specific circumstances to recommend the best approach and guide the family in the type of treatment program and follow-up plan that would work best for the person. Some family interventions go forward without any professional guidance, but having expert help is ideal.

How to Hold an Intervention: Six Steps

As mentioned, proper planning is the core of an effective intervention. Here are the steps everybody on the team needs to take to succeed in getting your loved one the treatment they need.

1. Educate yourself.

Learn as much as you can about the disease. The medical community defines the disease as "substance use disorder," and 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 interventionists who are ready and equipped to guide, but don't feel obligated to hire someone. The pastor at your church, or another religious official, might be a good choice as an alternative. Finding someone to act as a "translator" between your family 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 every person who struggles with addiction feels tremendous shame associated with their disease. Don't make the situation worse.

4. Discuss the consequences of not seeking help.

If you are considering a drug intervention, life has become unbearable for you. The intervention needs to include some discussion of an ultimatum if the person does not seek treatment. You must be prepared to follow through, so empty threats are not beneficial.

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 process.

6. Manage your expectations.

Remember that addiction is a chronic disease. Recovery is an ongoing commitment, and there is no magic cure to substance use disorder. The days and years ahead will involve both progress and setbacks.

Do's and Don'ts of a Family Intervention

Intensive and ongoing family support is a common denominator in the recovery process of many who have succeeded in overcoming addiction through treatment. Here are some of the do's and don'ts to remember before you hold an intervention for your loved one.

  • DO plan the intervention. Gather all members before conducting the intervention to agree on what everyone will say and ensure that everybody is on the same page.
  • DO talk to an experienced addiction treatment professional for guidance. Understand that recovering from addiction is a long process. Be wary of providers promising quick fixes.
  • DO come from a place of love. It might be tempting to give in to your loved one's emotional response, but bear in mind that substance use disorder is a chronic disease that needs professional treatment.
  • DON'T include somebody who the person dislikes in the intervention.
  • DON'T include anybody who has an existing substance use problem or unmanaged mental health issue.
  • DON'T include anyone who might not be able to control what they say or go beyond what you agreed on bringing up during the planning meeting.

What to Do After an Intervention

Unfortunately, not all drug interventions will have positive outcomes. In some cases, the person might rage against the family and feel resentment or, perhaps, betrayal. In other instances, the person might refuse treatment entirely. Be prepared for such a scenario to happen, but don't lose hope for a good result. Be ready with a backup plan.

In the case where a positive outcome is achieved and your loved one agrees to commit to treatment, be ready to undergo concurrent and post-treatment family therapy sessions in the future. As mentioned, the presence of the family is essential to paving a smoother road toward recovery.

Take a Decisive Step Toward Recovery with MATClinics

MATClinics is here to help you provide care for your loved one who is struggling with substance use disorder. We can be there for you throughout the intake, treatment, and recovery period — and well after. We provide outpatient treatment that comprises medication assisted treatment through Suboxone, counseling, and case management.

Visit or call any of our office locations nearest you in Maryland to learn more about how we can help you and your family today.

Speak to a member of our team to schedule a New Patient visit, or just to get more information.

Thank you for your inquiry, we will reach out to you soon. If you don’t want to wait, please call or text us at 410.220.0720.
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