5 Don’ts For Staging An Intervention

Angry fingers - 5 donts for interventions

She’s had ANOTHER DUI. He lost ANOTHER job. That’s it! We’re staging an intervention!

Addiction leaves a wide path of destruction, and people are exhausted from fearing the worst. We hope our loved one, who might be angry at first, will admit the problem and promise to quit. Then we hope they actually keep their promise.

Unfortunately, Disney doesn’t plan interventions. In reality, interventions are risky and messy. They can backfire, plain and simple. Before you set the stage for disaster, consider these five don’ts.

1. Don’t Point Fingers And Lay Blame

Saying how you feel works best. Some examples:

  • I am afraid I won’t have money for groceries
  • I am afraid we’ll lose the house
  • I’m terrified you’ll get arrested or die
  • I want to know where you are after 10:00 p.m.
  • I need to have the car to drive

2. Don’t Make Threats You Won’t Keep

Before you intervene, decide which behaviors you can and cannot accept. What will you do the next time unacceptable behavior occurs? Be honest with yourself about your limits. Will you be strong enough to do what you say?

3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Silence In The Intervention

Even though you may feel hurt and betrayed, an intervention is not the time to point fingers and lay blame.  Write your thoughts down before the intervention. Be brief and amazing. A popular recovery tool says to:

“Say what you mean. Mean what you say, and don’t say it mean.”

Practice your speech. Stay calm. Be specific when talking about incidents and issues. Focus on how you feel instead of what they are doing. Then wait. In silence.

Give your loved one time to process what just happened. Then wait some more. If you do not care for their response, consider keeping quiet. Smile if you can.

4. Don’t Give Up

Interventions are hard for everyone involved, and emotions may run high. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is step back and let everyone regroup. The last thing you want and the substance user needs is to feel like everyone is against them. Try to see your loved one as someone else’s child or spouse.

If the intervention doesn’t go as planned or you believe it failed, reconnect with the substance user.  Assure them of your love and support. This doesn’t mean that you have to placate them or tell them you didn’t mean what you said.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

A trained professional can help reduce these risks and keep the intervention from going sour. Recovery Guidance lists Recovery Professionals like counselors and interventionists, who specialize in this type of care. You can find resources in your area by clicking on the Recovery Professionals tab and selecting the Intervention Services specialization.

Search for intervention

Be sure to:

  1. Ask about the professional’s credentials and certifications.
  2. Make sure you are both on the same page for the intervention.

Recovery Physicians can also help your family discuss abuse concerns and treatment options.


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