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Intervention Advice and Tips

Our number one goal at UK-Rehab is to do whatever we can to help our clients and their families bring an end to the scourge of addiction. We accomplish that through a number of strategies, including assisting family members and friends in conducting an intervention. If you fit this description, the following paragraphs should help you a great deal.

An intervention is a controlled process whereby family members and friends confront the addict in the hopes of motivating him or her to get help. The intervention is a tool that has been used by drug and alcohol rehab specialists successfully for many years.

An intervention can be conducted under one of three models:

  • Independent - Families wishing to conduct interventions completely on their own and without professional help are said to be operating independently. Independent interventions can be very successful if they are done properly. However, intervention leaders still need to put the time and effort into research if they want the greatest chances of success.
  • Assisted - The assisted intervention is one in which the family utilises the assistance of a professional in the planning stage. The professional counsellor walks the intervention group through the process, helps them plan how it will happen, and offers last minute suggestions prior to the event. The actual intervention is conducted without the professional present.
  • Supervised - Families who are not comfortable leading an intervention may rely on complete supervision from a professional counsellor. That counsellor not only leads the intervention, he or she also provides a neutral meeting place as well. He or she works with the family to develop the intervention prior to the event.

Regardless of the type of intervention you choose, it is important that you pay attention to some basic principles of a successful intervention. We will discuss those principles by way of the following seven tips:

1. Motivation is the Goal

The most important thing to remember about an intervention is its purpose: motivation. In other words, you cannot force an alcoholic or drug addict to get the help he or she needs. Doing so only encourages them to give less than 100% while in treatment, inevitably resulting in relapse. The addict must make the choice on their own. Your job is to motivate them in that direction.

The motivation occurs by presenting the addict with evidence proving the destructive nature of his or her addictive behaviour. Motivation is not manipulation, coercion, or deceit; it is the process of opening the eyes of understanding using facts and personal experience.

2. Dedication of the Team

A successful intervention involves a team of people interested in the well-being of the addict. That team can be made up of family members, close friends, co-workers, etc. However, in order to be successful, each member of the team must be fully dedicated to the cause. He or she must be willing to take the difficult stand necessary to hold the addict accountable.

3. Accountability Is a Must

No intervention will be successful if the team does not hold the addict accountable. What does that mean? It means setting up clear boundaries you will no longer allow the addict to cross. If he or she does, you have already put consequences in place to handle that crossing of the line. You must establish consequences and hold the addict to them.

4. Choose Your Approach

Some professionals recommend you conduct the intervention by explaining to the addict how his or her behaviour is harming them. Other professionals recommend focusing on the harm being caused to family members. Regardless of the approach you choose, you need to stick with it once the intervention begins. You will be more effective with one approach than you will if you try to combine them.

As a matter of course, we generally recommend the latter approach. The addict has already proven by his or her behaviour that they are not concerned about their own well-being. However, exposing them to the harm they are doing to those they are closest to may be the one thing that opens their eyes.

5. Don't Go in without a Plan

You should never go into an intervention without a concrete plan in place. That plan should include the approach you decide to take, which members of the team will address the addict, the order in which each person will speak, and the laying out of consequences prior to asking the addict to make a decision. Without a plan in place, your intervention could quickly become an emotional disaster. Do not let that happen.

6. Stick with the Facts

The nature of addiction and its effects on the family make it very difficult to keep emotions in check during intervention. Nevertheless, you must make every effort to do so. Sticking with the facts is the best way to address the addict while mitigating his or her feelings of being attacked.

Along the same lines, make sure to be careful of your own attitude during the event. Every team member needs to be firm without being accusatory. Remember that you are there to motivate, not tear down the individual you are confronting.

7. Be Prepared to Follow Up

Lastly, our final tip comes by way of being prepared to follow up after an intervention is concluded. How you will follow up depends on the results you achieve. If the addict agrees to seek help at the conclusion of your intervention, you need to be already armed with information regarding all available treatment options. That’s where we come in. We encourage you to contact us to get that information before conducting your intervention.

If the addict chooses not to seek help, do not be discouraged. Sometimes it takes several tries before an intervention succeeds. In such a case, you can follow up by checking with the individual once or twice to see if he or she has changed their mind. If they haven’t, just do your best to wait until the next opportunity presents itself.

If you need help either planning an intervention or locating a professional counsellor, please get in touch with us. We are here to help you any way we can.

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