An estimated 90 percent of interventions are effective, in that they inspire the person to seek help and make a real effort to seek treatment.
While these are promising numbers, it’s important to note that interventions can still be difficult and draining events – and as the numbers imply, they don’t always work, and there’s the risk that it could backfire and further alienate a loved one rather than drawing them in and convincing them that they need help.
Among the many considerations one should have before staging an intervention, a crucial one is to consider when an intervention is appropriate to begin with. You don’t need to wait for a loved one to hit their total rock bottom before you call for help.
However, picking the wrong moment can make future attempts less effective.
To understand when an intervention is necessary, and when it does little more than just deepen the mistrust between you and your loved one, it’s important to know what interventions are and what they are not.
What Counts as an Intervention?
At its heart, an intervention is an attempt to convince a loved one that they have a problem they need to address, and that the only way to get through to them would be to stage an event wherein numerous other witnesses have to come forth to help vouch for the fact that everyone feels this person has become a danger to themselves and those around them.
In the context of drug addiction, an intervention should only occur after other avenues have been explored, to no avail.
Most notably, interventions become a potential means of helping someone overcome denial after they choose to deny their behavior and ignore the facts during a one-on-one discussion.
It’s important for an intervention to skirt the line between forcefully creating an opportunity for discussion and turning into a demeaning ambush.
While interventions are never pleasant, their effectiveness ultimately hinges on how much the targeted loved one can be convinced that they have truly been acting recklessly.
The specifics differ from case to case. Sometimes, interventions are strictly a family affair. At times, it’s just the person’s friends who decide to stage the intervention. Sometimes, interventions are formally planned with the help of a professional interventionist to guide the way and avoid potentially ruinous missteps.
And other times, they’re scheduled and planned on a whim, and executed in an entirely ad-hoc manner.
When Are Interventions Necessary?
An intervention is necessary when it’s clear that a loved one desperately needs help, either when they’re on the cusp of causing serious and irremediable damage, or after it’s clear that they’re unwilling to quit despite numerous severe consequences.
Other examples include:
- When their drug habit is causing physical damage to themselves or others.
- When they’re losing work over their drug habit or have already lost employment as a result of drug use.
- When it’s clear they can’t stop or can’t stay sober for longer than a few days.
- When it’s apparent that they aren’t going to try and get professional help, or when they deny that they have a problem at all.
- When they continue to lie and try to argue that their problem is not that bad or cover up their use in an attempt to get family members off their backs.
- When they’re experiencing severe financial pressure as a result of an expensive drug habit.
- When they’re beginning to engage in immoral or criminal activity to try and support their habit.
Get Professional Help
More than just providing a basic guideline, a professional interventionist can walk you through the step-by-step process of planning, setting up, and executing an intervention, as well as helping you with the crucial follow-up afterwards.
A professional can also help your loved one understand the extent of the damage they’ve done to themselves and others. More than just a voice of reason, a professional interventionist can approach the problem from the clinical side and explain how treatment works.
Oftentimes, denial is rooted in the fear of being labeled an addict. By understanding what addiction is and how it can be treated, your loved one might feel more ready to accept treatment.
If the intervention goes south and things get heated, an interventionist knows how to de-escalate the situation and play the critical role of mediator between the rest of the family and the target person, facilitating a healthier and more effective approach.
Professionals can also help families handle problems and situations they would have no real way of handling otherwise.
This is particularly helpful in cases where the person in question has exhibited suicidal thoughts or tendencies, has a history of becoming violent, struggles with other mental health issues, or takes several different powerful mood-altering drugs.
Following Up After an Intervention
The follow up is important after an intervention, as it helps you effectively guide your loved one toward fulfilling their promises to you and the family – provided you fulfill yours, as well.
An intervention doesn’t begin and end in a single day – it’s a process, one that starts at the event itself but one that should be felt throughout the entire recovery process, in the form of helping a loved one form a support network and provide crucial help throughout their sobriety.
What If It Fails?
Interventions don’t always work, and it’s important to consider what to do if they fail. The first thing to note is that it’s important to try again eventually, and with a different approach.
If a loved one tries to barter or compromise – perhaps promising to only turn down their habit, or try in some other way to avoid going through with full-blown treatment – it’s important to refuse, and make it very clear that there is no compromise to be had here.
If you didn’t work with a professional the first time, heavily consider doing so for the second time. They may be able to help point out what went wrong the first time, and help you achieve better results.
Interventions are draining, and tricky. Getting them right the first time is certainly great, but not always an option.
Nevertheless, families shouldn’t give up on their loved ones. Addiction is a tricky illness to tackle, and you can’t tackle it alone. Perseverance and patience are important.