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How to Stage an Intervention: What to Do and What Not to Do

Aug 8, 2022 | Intervention

In most cases, someone who is suffering from one form of substance dependency or another will not voluntarily seek help for their condition. This is where people who care for the person need to look into staging an intervention on their behalf.

As the situation is quite volatile and sensitive, there are major considerations to be noted when planning the intervention. If not properly done, it might actually do more harm than help, as the person with the substance abuse issue might isolate themselves further.

It is imperative that people who are planning to do an intervention know what to do, and what not to do so that the action is a success. Participants in the intervention need to understand that they are doing this for someone in need, and it will not be an easy task.

What Is an Intervention and Who Is It For?

An intervention is an effort done by a group of people, usually close friends, loved ones, or family members, to get someone with a substance dependency to seek treatment for their condition.

This is done because people with substance dependency issues rarely seek help or treatment on their own. In many cases, not even encouragement from therapists and specialists would work, which is why the task often falls on family members or loved ones.

Interventions are typically held for people who suffer from:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Prescription or street drug abuse
  • Compulsive eating
  • Compulsive gambling
  • People needing help with other issues but are in denial

An intervention capitalizes on the emotional weight and influences a loved one or family member might have on the person needing it. The actual intervention itself needs to be carefully planned for it to work, as the person needing it might just feel like they were ganged up on, or even betrayed.

It should also be noted that an intervention will only work if there are people who care enough about the person and be willing to participate in it.

What Are the Things That Should Be Done During an Intervention?

The most important thing to remember when thinking about how to stage an intervention is that it is done primarily to help someone in great need of support. This means that whatever issues or opinions the participants may have about what is being done, if it will not serve to help the process, then they should keep it to themselves.

Select Intervention Participants Carefully

It goes without saying that the person in need of intervention will only react positively to those he feels love or close kinship to. Trust is also a major consideration, which is why the participants of the intervention should be carefully selected.

It is of the utmost importance that only those who have a positive relationship or effect on the person be included in the intervention, while those who might be critical or harbor any resentment towards the person, regardless of their relationship, should not be present at the event. In some instances, there is a need to schedule the presence of the participants, as too many people present at one time might overwhelm the person needing the intervention.

Select the Most Opportune Time

Trying to convince a substance abuser while he or she is still high will definitely not work. This is why it is important to pick the most opportune time to do the intervention. While the person might not have the opportunity to be completely sober, there will at least be intervals when they are as close to being sober as possible, and this could be the best time to do the intervention.

Choosing the best time is important because the person must know what is happening, and why it is happening so that the event itself bears more weight in their minds, and they realize their value to others. By making them understand that there are people who value them, substance abusers are given a concrete reason to want to get better.

Select an Appropriate Venue

An intervention is a private and personal event, and the venue where it is to be held should reflect that fact. The place should also be someplace that will not be unduly stressful to the person who needs the intervention.

While the intervention itself is all about the person who needs it, the venue should not also be unduly stressful to those participating in it because the participants might manifest this stress. The event is, at best, a precarious one, so it would be a good idea to not add any more stress to anyone participating in it.

Ensure the Dialogue Is Orderly

Once the intervention itself starts, it must be conducted in an orderly fashion. This could be done with the help of a professional who is versed in conducting interventions.

Should a professional interventionist not be present, someone needs to ensure that order is maintained during the actual event itself. This is done by making sure that everyone who needs to say something does so in an orderly manner, and that everyone speaks in their own turn. In some cases, everyone speaks at the same time, causing chaos and confusion, which would only lead the intervention to failure.

Practice and Prepare

What might start out as a simple enough dialogue could quickly turn into something else, as old wounds could be opened, blame could be cast, and hurtful words could be said. These things, however, are commonplace in an intervention.

It is, therefore, a good idea to practice for the actual event and prepare for the things that might be said and brought out. It is not uncommon for participants to quit midway because something said triggered them, or if the person the intervention is for blames them for all their troubles, which is why everyone needs to be prepared for what might be said and what might happen.

Stick to the Planned Dialogue

As emotions run high during the intervention, it is important to remember that everyone needs to stick to the dialogue and not deviate. It is so easy to get triggered enough to say something unplanned, which could actually be harmful to the one the intervention is for.

This is why everyone needs to be prepared and expect the worst to be said so that they could steel themselves against it.

Mind the Body Language

During the intervention itself, the person needing it could be assailed by conflicting emotions. He or she could feel betrayed, afraid, vulnerable, and a host of other emotions that could easily tip over into something worse.

At this stage, the person could be prone to “read” anything more than it really is. Things like a clenched fist, sharp stares, and angry faces could be misinterpreted quite quickly. Psychology tells us that body language, even the most subtle hints of it, could be picked up on by people going through stressful emotions, which is typical of most interventions.

Stay True to the Cause

Everyone participating in the intervention needs to understand that there might not be another chance to do it. This is why everything and everyone needs to work hard for it to succeed the first time around.

This means that whatever happens, everyone needs to see it through to the end. In almost all interventions, the person needing it will put up a fight, refuse to quit their habit and accuse someone, or everyone, of setting them up to be shamed. Despite this, and for the sake of the one needing it, everyone needs to stand firm and do their best to make sure the intervention succeeds.

What Are the Things That Should Not Be Done During an Intervention?

how to stage an intervention Since there are things that need to be done during the intervention, there are also some things that should not be done as well. These are the things that could ensure the exercise fails and the person needing the intervention could be much worse off than before it started.

Do Not Include Overly Emotional People

While there might be many people who would want to see the person get well again and kick the habit that is consuming them, not everyone is capable of handling the stressful situations found in an intervention.

Some people close to the person needing the intervention might express too much pity or sympathy during the event, and this will only jeopardize the exercise. Love, care, and support should be expressed firmly, and in a way that would encourage the person to seek help, not withdraw into their vice even more.

Don’t Stage the Intervention Where Escape or Retreat Is Easy

People at the center of intervention often feel it as a form of entrapment, and to a certain extent, it is. This is because it needs to be done somewhere the person needing an intervention could not retreat somewhere else when they don’t like what is happening.

This is particularly difficult because those who feel that they are trapped could actually lash out and hurt someone or say hurtful things. This is why there is a need to make the person feel loved and secure so as to compensate for the feeling of being trapped or cornered.

Do Not Impose Guilt

Everyone seeking to help the person needing intervention needs to remember that what’s done is done, no one wanted for it to happen, and what is important is to get the person the help they need to quit their bad habit.

In the emotionally charged atmosphere of an intervention, it is so easy for the dialogue to become a session for accusations and fault-finding. Even if the accusations come from the person needing the intervention, participants need to remember they should not retaliate.

Don’t Generalize, Don’t Be Vague

Everything needs to be laid down on the table during an intervention. Do not speak in vague comparisons or examples, as this would only serve to irritate the person needing the intervention.

Get to the point, be sure to cite specific examples, and be sure that all the details are accurate. The participants need the person needing the intervention to understand where they are with their habits, and this will not be achieved through generalities and vagueness.

Don’t Negotiate

Even if the person needing the intervention starts to break down and lose ground, they will still do their best to negotiate to continue their bad habit. They will try to put it off, they will try to say it’s not as bad as it seems, and they will try to give bleak promises of quitting.

Unless they completely agree to a time and place for detox and rehabilitation, the intervention could not be called a success. Do not negotiate for anything less than agreeing to check into a recovery or rehabilitation center as soon as possible.

Ensure Complete Recovery After an Intervention at Casco Bay

It is important that any momentum gained in convincing a loved one to get well be seen to completion and success. We here at Casco Bay Recovery know how to drive this momentum toward sobriety and into living a full and healthy life once more. Talk to us now.

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