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Understanding the Misconceptions About Intervention for Addicts

Understanding the Misconceptions About Intervention for Addicts

Sad to say, many Americans base their beliefs and opinions on what they watch on television.  Whether it be the news, sitcoms, movies, or documentaries, some of the information they relay to the public is not always accurate. 

Evidence of this type of distorted information is quite obvious when it comes to intervention for addicts.  Reality shows about intervention usually focus on drama and anger because they want to improve their ratings.  In real life, interventions aren’t always quite so dramatic.

If you’ve watched any intervention reality programs, did you wonder why it seemed to be such a spectacle?  And, what about the person who was supposedly whisked off to rehab?  Did they succeed in overcoming their addiction?  Unfortunately, those questions won’t be answered because these programs are not an accurate portrayal of the intervention process.

When an intervention is conducted properly, it is not likely to erupt into a drama-fest as you see on reality TV.  

A Realistic Picture of Intervention for Addicts

Interventions for addiction are necessary in many cases because a person may be in denial or does not realize the severity of their substance abuse.  Friends and family agree to come together and approach their loved one as a group about the issue.  The goal is to help the addicted person admit they have a problem and agree to enter treatment.  

An intervention is not about placing blame or guilt-tripping the individual.  It should be a loving yet persuasive blend of expressing expectations and setting boundaries.  The end goal is to convince the person to enter treatment right away.  

How to Conduct an Intervention

Sometimes, even the most well-planned intervention can go wrong.  People lose control, get angry, or become physically threatening.  The best way to ensure a successful outcome is to include the expertise of a professional interventionist.  These experts know how to manage emotional outbursts to prevent them from escalating.  An interventionist can coordinate and supervise the process if the family agrees to this arrangement.

To be effective, intervention for addicts should involve the following steps:

Step 1 – Be informed.  

Learn about substance abuse and addiction.  Also, gather information about detoxification and rehabilitation programs.  If you are well-informed before the intervention, it will be easier to talk to the individual about these options.  Choose a facility and make arrangements before holding the intervention so the individual can enter treatment right away.

Step 2 – Write personal statements.

All participants in the intervention should speak about their experiences involving the person’s addiction.  Writing the statement ahead of time will help avoid saying things that weren’t intended.  The statement should describe how the addiction has affected them personally.  The goal is to help the addicted person realize that their addiction has harmed others in their life.  Keep in mind that the statements should be honest but non-confrontational.  

Step 3 – Offer your help.

Let the person know you will support them during detox, rehab, and recovery.  Offer to drive them to treatment or attend therapy and support group meetings.  A person in recovery needs to know they are not alone in their struggle.

Step 4 – Set boundaries.

Everyone should let the individual know there will be consequences if treatment is refused.  Friends or family members can stop their enabling behaviors such as loaning money, providing a place to live, or loaning out their car.  Everyone involved should rehearse this aspect of the intervention together to be sure they are on the same page.

Step 5 –  Manage expectations.

The intervention may not achieve the desired result.  So, if the loved one refuses to enter treatment, everyone must be prepared to follow through with the boundaries they outlined during the intervention.  

What Should You Avoid During an Intervention?

We hear a lot about “tough love” these days.  It is defined as “ love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline) especially to promote responsible behavior.”   However,  it can be easy to cross the fine line between tough love and cruelty.  With that in mind, some things should be avoided during an intervention that could be hurtful.  

Things to avoid during an intervention:

  • Using labels such as addict, junkie, alcoholic, etc.  These terms can be taken as accusatory and seem to define a person by their addiction.  
  • Becoming upset or emotional.  If participants become emotional or upset, the intervention can spin out of control.  Before the meeting, think about ways to manage personal feelings so the intervention can stay on course.
  • Involving too many people..  A large group can be intimidating or feel an ambush.  It’s best to choose a small group of close friends and family who genuinely care about helping the individual.
  • Bad timing.  If the person shows up intoxicated, the intervention will not be effective.  Plan the event for a time when you are sure the individual is sober.

Misconceptions about intervention prevent people from getting the help they need.  If friends or family don’t step up and help a loved one face the truth about their substance use, they may never reach out for professional treatment.  So, it’s vital to learn the facts about intervention.

Get Help Staging an Intervention at Cycles for Change Recovery

The prospect of confronting a loved one about their substance abuse or addiction can be a little scary.  You’re not sure how they will react or how the process will unfold.  So, if you’re considering an intervention, but aren’t sure how to begin, Cycles for Change Recovery can help.  Contact us at our Palmdale, CA facility today to learn about our professional intervention services and addiction treatment programs.  Don’t let misconceptions about intervention prevent you from helping your loved one.



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