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Surprise! Now That’s Enough: How to Do an Intervention Without Losing Your Friendship

Substance abuse in the U.S. accounts for $740 billion in costs each year.

Does someone you care about have a serious substance abuse problem impacting their life and family? Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or something else, addiction is dangerous and destructive.

Interventions help someone struggling with addiction, but a bad intervention can harm your relationship.

If you’re wondering how to do an intervention, start by understanding their feelings and writing down your concerns. Avoid common pitfalls that can end in anger and frustration on both ends.

Before you stage your intervention, learn the right steps to take and mistakes to avoid.

What Is an Intervention?

There are many types of interventions, from confronting behavioral problems to addiction. Drug interventions are one of the most common.

What are interventions exactly? You may have seen TV shows about people staging interventions and reading letters. But these shows don’t reflect the emotional energy of a live intervention.

An intervention is a gathering of friends and family that confront a loved one about a problem. Each person in the group speaks with the addict and explains their feelings and worries.

They may bring up family issues, poor performances at work or bad grades at school. Afterward, everyone talks about the consequences of addiction and encourages them to get help.

Interventions happen when someone has spiraled out of control, but they may not realize the extent of their problem.

In fact, one of the warning signs of a functioning alcoholic is that they don’t feel they have a problem.

How to Have an Intervention Without Arguments

Interventions can be tricky because you don’t want to come off as confrontational.

If you only consider your own feelings, there can be arguments, accusations, and hurt feelings. The gathering is often a surprise, and it may seem like peer pressure at first.

An intervention is a vulnerable time full of intense emotions, and there may be arguments. To prevent this, it’s recommended to enlist the help of a professional interventionist who can walk you through the entire process.

Signs Someone Needs Help

There are signs when suffering addicts that have hit rock bottom and need help.

You may have noticed that they have changed both physically and behaviorally. They may be more aggressive or secretive and lash out if you confront them about these changes.

Here are signs someone needs help:

  • Always borrowing money without paying it back
  • Evasive or secretive behavior
  • Decline and change in physical appearance
  • Problems at work or school
  • Missing appointments, meetings, and deadlines

If you know that substance abuse is a factor in the above changes, talk to their family members and plan an intervention.

If you suspect drug or alcohol addiction, take the next steps to get them help.

How to Do an Intervention: Start with a Script

An interventionist can walk you through this process and help you determine what to write. There are also intervention steps you can take and mistakes you want to avoid during the process.

Write a Script and Stick to It

Reading from a script keeps you from veering off track when you’re talking. You can make a list of all the reasons you care about them and why you don’t want this to hurt your friendship.

Creating a script beforehand lets you write down everything you’re feeling. Include your frustrations but don’t be aggressive.

A script also keeps you focused during the actual intervention. The most important thing to remember when writing and reading your script is to remain calm.

Communicate your feelings clearly but constructively.

Take Their Feelings Into Account but Don’t Accept Excuses

You’re staging this intervention because you care about this person’s well being and you want them to get help. The end goal of an intervention is to get them professional treatment.

They may be resistant to this, but that isn’t a reason to accept their excuses. Explain the reasons that this behavior is harmful to your relationship. Tell them the consequences of what will happen if they don’t get help.

Don’t let any excuses get in the way of treatment. Excuses may revolve around work, family, or financial matters. As an example, they could say they can’t leave for treatment because it’s a busy time at work.

You need to remember the reason you wanted to stage this intervention. Excuses only get in the way.

Don’t Act Angry or Critical

During an intervention, it’s easy to get angry or frustrated. But you have to remain calm, stick to your script, and remember that acting out can backfire.

People on the other end of an intervention sometimes see this as an ambush. They may think that their friends and family are being hypocritical. To prevent them from storming off, state from the beginning that this is an intervention.

Remind them that you want them to be healthy and happy.

Address their behavior or addiction, but don’t yell or raise your voice. They may have done things that have hurt you, but now isn’t the time to argue.

Remember Your Consequences

If you said you would stop loaning them money, make sure you stick to that promise. You don’t want to enable them.

If you loan an addict money after threatening to cut them off, they won’t take your threats seriously. While it may be difficult, follow through with your promises. This will prevent them from falling back on bad habits.

Take the First Step Toward Intervention

Now that you know how to do an intervention, you can take the first step and start contacting people that can help.

The right kind of intervention help starts with a decision. There will be many difficult emotions to deal with, but stand your ground and be sincere. Stick to your script and don’t get angry.

Follow these steps to reach out and get them help without destroying your friendship. Remember, you can hire an interventionist to increase the chances of success.

Is your friend or loved one dealing with addiction? Find information on how to help and more in our health archives.

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