Mistakes to Avoid During an Intervention

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A successful intervention can be a life-changing event. An unsuccessful one can have devastating consequences. To increase the chances of positive outcomes, it is important to understand which mistakes to avoid during an intervention.

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a gathering of friends and loved ones for the purpose of convincing someone to enter treatment for an addiction to alcohol or another drug.

There is no specific agenda or structure that an intervention must follow, but there are several ways the process can go awry. A failed intervention can push a person away from vital sources of support. It may also complicate future efforts to connect the person with the care they need.

Mistakes to Avoid During an Intervention

Knowing what mistakes to avoid during an intervention can increase the likelihood that the event will be successful and the individual will get help. Here are five common mistakes to avoid during an intervention:

Lack of preparation

To avoid mistakes during an intervention, proper preparation is essential. You cannot simply throw together a quick intervention and have any realistic hope of success.

When you are preparing to hold an intervention, here are a few important points to consider:

  • Who will participate? You want to include several people who are important to the individual who is the focus of the intervention. These people should be able to clearly discuss how they have been affected by the individual’s substance abuse. You want to have enough people present to clearly demonstrate the widespread negative impact of the individual’s substance abuse.
  • Where will you hold the intervention? You need to find a private location that can accommodate the size of the group that will be participating. It has to be somewhere that the intended individual of the intervention will go willingly, without suspicion of what is about to occur. The individual’s home or the home of one of the participants are ideal options.
  • What will each person say? The people who participate in an intervention need to speak openly and honestly about their concern for the individual. They need to offer details about how they have been negatively impacted by the individual’s actions. This will understandably be difficult for some people. It will likely be emotional for everyone. For these reasons, everyone should write what they plan to say, practice saying it, and read from this document during the intervention.
  • What is the specific goal of the intervention? It is essential to have a specific goal for the intervention. You also have to ensure that everyone who is participating understands this goal. An intervention is not simply a time for people to share their thoughts. The statements everyone makes the need to contribute toward the goal.

Choosing the Wrong Time

Here are three important factors to consider when choosing the right time for an intervention:

  • All participants must be available.
  • The person who is the focus of the intervention must not be under the influence of alcohol or any other drugs during the intervention.
  • The facility that you contacted must be able to admit your loved one immediately after the intervention. Or as soon as you can transport them to the treatment center.

From a broader perspective, the right time to schedule an intervention is when you realize your loved one has an addiction, they and their loved ones are being harmed by their continued substance abuse, and they are not taking any steps to address the problem.

Not Hiring a Professional

Failing to include a professional in an intervention can be a catastrophic error. The benefits of having a professional involved include:

  • Having a professional in attendance signals to your loved one that this is a serious matter.
  • A professional has done this before. They are aware of what can go wrong, and they can help you avoid common (and uncommon) mistakes that can undermine your effort.
  • A professional may be able to provide guidance as you plan for the event. 
  • During the intervention, the professional can ensure that the event proceeds as planned. 
  • A professional brings an essential third-party perspective to the intervention. Since the professional won’t have a personal history with any of the participants, they are more likely to be accepted as a neutral arbitrator if disagreements occur or an argument breaks out.

There will, of course, be a financial cost associated with hiring a professional interventionist. But this may be a minor price to pay, considering that the alternative is watching your loved one continue to descend into the abyss of untreated addiction.

Using the Wrong Language

An intervention is not a time to air personal grudges, argue, or issue unenforceable ultimatums. Understanding what type of language to use—and knowing which words and phrases to avoid—are two of the many beneficial reasons for preparing ahead of time and hiring a professional.

During the intervention, participants need to establish that they truly care about the individual, that they understand they have a disease, and that they want them to get the proper care. They should speak about how they have been affected by the individual’s substance abuse. And they should do this as calmly and clearly as possible.

Participants should not insult the individual, threaten them, or make statements that they cannot back up. For example, saying you will never speak to the person if they don’t agree to enter treatment might sound dramatic at the moment, but it’s unlikely that you will follow through. This can undermine the effectiveness of the rest of what you have to say.

Not Offering Immediate Treatment

The goal of an effective intervention is to get the individual to agree to enter treatment immediately. Read that sentence again, because it is essential.

If the person who is the focus of the intervention says they’ll get help at some unspecified later date, then the intervention has not been successful. 

This means that your preparations must include coordinating with a treatment provider ahead of time. You need to be sure they will admit your loved one after the intervention. You need to determine who will drive your loved one to the treatment center, what they need to bring with them, and how their treatment will be funded. 

Ideally, once the intervention has ended, the individual will walk outside, get into a car, and be driven directly to an addiction treatment facility. There an admissions staff member will be waiting to admit them into treatment.

Find Professional Intervention Services in CA

If you are seeking professional intervention services in California, Ocean Hills Recovery is here for you. Our team is committed to supporting the loved ones of people who need professional care for addictions to alcohol or other drugs. In many cases, this includes helping friends or family members convince a person to get the treatment that can literally save their life. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.

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