The following information is applicable after you have made the decision to go forward with an intervention. In my case, my family decided to go the “old school” tough love route and cut me out of their life. I know this sounds harsh but it saved my life. I got sober 20 years ago, and there weren’t as many resources and medical options, as there are today. My family felt they have to let me “hit bottom” and just pray that I didn’t die, during that process. I am very grateful for that, because when I ran out of options, I had to face the brutal truth.
Today families can practice tough love without as much risk. There are so many resources available. If you have to do an intervention on a loved one, here are some suggestions:
What you should do and not do:
- Don’t wait for a loved one to hit bottom because the bottom she may hit may be jail, or serious injury to self or others.
- If you are ambivalent about proceeding, ask yourself: “Of all the time, energy and tears I have invested in trying to make her stop, what has been successful?” If the answer is “nothing,” you are in good company. Anger, tears and empty threats have never cured one single disease. If all your efforts to help your loved one have failed—and made you miserable in the process, then letting go and getting help couldn’t be any worse. And your time is better spent on those people for whom you can make a difference.
- Don’t enable the problem by making excuses or “covering up” for the substance abuser any longer. When a person has to face the consequences of his actions directly, he is more interested in seeking help.
- Do spend your time in the solution, not the problem. Focus on the next step—not a cure for addiction.
- Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. Let trusted friends, family or clergy in on the secret. Tell them you want their help in doing an intervention.
- Do contact an addiction professional and ask for help in setting up an intervention. The toll-free phone number on our company site is a good place to start.
- Don’t bluff. Be willing to follow through on any threats or promises you make. Be sure to communicate these conditions clearly and calmly.
- Do decide how much longer you are willing to put up with the pain, fear and frustration caused by drugs and alcohol. That’s exactly how long it will continue.
- Do stay in the present. Talk about how substance abuse affects you today—and one thing you can change today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
- Don’t expect a miracle. The purpose of an intervention is to force someone to get help. The person does not have to like it or thank you for it. As soon as she agrees to the recommendations, the intervention is over. Do not expect her to be happy.
- Do attend support groups such as Al-Anon and Parents Anonymous. These groups offer excellent support for family and friends of substance abusers.
The intervention checklist is a guide for preparing an intervention to get a person into appropriate treatment. Don’t plan an intervention using the checklist alone.
- Bring together three to eight people who are important to the addict and are willing to learn how to help.
- Set up a planning meeting to discuss moving forward with the intervention
- Discuss the importance of not alerting the person to the intervention plans.
- List ways you’ve tried to help the person that may have enabled the addiction.
- Put in writing all the negative consequences caused by the addiction problem.
- Write a one or two page letter to your loved one.
- Read your letters to each other, editing out anger, blame, and judgment.
- Determine bottom lines, and write them down on a separate page.
- Test each other’s willingness to follow through with the bottom lines.
- Identify financial resources for covering treatment costs.
- Evaluate treatment centers using the evaluation questions.
- Set a date, time and place for the rehearsal and the intervention.
- Choose a treatment center, answer its pre-intake questions, and make an appointment for admission.
- Identify objections the addict may use to avoid or postpone treatment, then formulate your answers.
- Compile a list of all prescribed medications the alcoholic is presently using.
- Rehearse the intervention.
- Review objections and answers.
After the intervention
Locate an Al-Anon or Family Anonymous meeting near your home or office.The bottom line is to stick to your bottom line. Ruining your own life is not a requirement to saving someone from addiction.
Side note: If you don’t have health insurance, the government has extended the deadline. I have no affiliations, so go to the healthcare.gov website for more information.