A Poorly Planned Intervention can do More Harm than Good

A carefully planned drug or alcohol intervention is a powerful process that brings friends and family together to encourage an addicted loved one to admit they have a problem and accept treatment. An intervention can also help with gambling addictions, eating disorders, or various other dependencies.

An intervention can be a life saver for the addicted person, but also provides tremendous benefits for friends and family who struggle with extreme worry, fear, resentment, anger and guilt.

An intervention has the greatest chance of success when done with the assistance of an experienced professional who can help participants determine what to say and how to say it, thus guiding the process and sorting out any difficulties or challenges that may arise.

Friends and family will have an opportunity to confront the addicted person directly regarding the impact of the addiction, and to establish clear boundaries to let the addicted person know exactly what they are willing to tolerate and what will happen if the addicted person refuses to accept treatment.

They can also, with the help of the interventionist, realize their own emotions and their suffering and to express them in an appropriate way to the addicted person.

For example, friends and family frequently need help identifying enabling behavior that must be stopped. They may decide to cut off financial support or stop providing living space if the addicted person fails to accept help.

A professional interventionist will also help friends and family identify the best treatment options for the addicted person so the plan is arranged ahead of time and spelled out clearly so all can understand.

When Intervention Goes Wrong

Loved ones may try to conduct an intervention on their own, but things can go wrong very quickly. It’s best to do everything possible to make it work the first time because sometimes, there are no second chances.

Emotions are high and it isn’t uncommon for tempers to flare, especially if the addicted person lashes out and says angry things. A trained counselor can help participants stay on the right path and present their arguments without defensiveness.

An intervention is a time to focus on solutions. Blaming or criticizing during an intervention can create more divisions, and some may be irreparable. Past hurts and offenses can be dealt with later – not during an intervention.

When an intervention goes awry, the subject of the intervention may feel resentment, anger and a sense of betrayal. If she feels attacked or cornered, she is likely to shut down and become even more resistant to treatment.

A trained interventionist is especially important if the addicted person is severely mentally ill, or has a history of violence or has attempted or threatened suicide.

Choosing a Professional

If you think your loved one would benefit from an intervention, don’t rush into the process. Take time to choose the interventionist carefully. Ask your health care provider to suggest a counselor with training in intervention, or inquire at different drug and alcohol treatment centers or rehabs.

Be sure the person is experienced and has the necessary credentials according to laws in your area.

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