What is an intervention and how should you plan for we? We review the basic protocol for intervening in cases of drug or alcohol problems here.

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Q: How do you plan an intervention?

A: With the professional help of an addiction interventionist.

It’s sometimes difficult to know what to expect from an intervention, since every person facing a substance abuse problem will react differently. The main goals of an intervention are to:

1. Identify the problem.

2. Help a loved one seek treatment for the addiction.

3. Follow through with consequences.

Here’s a short step-by-step guide on how to do an intervention.

STEP 1: In general, an intervention should not be attempted without the guidance of a professional, so the first step of the process should be meeting with an intervention specialist. This person can help individuals understand the alcohol intervention steps that they need to take, and help them through the actual intervention itself.

STEP 2: Planning is one of the most important intervention steps, and it should never be skipped. During the planning stage, a group of loved ones meet with an intervention specialist in order to understand the process and learn what to say and how to say it. When planning an intervention, the group of loved ones should determine a time and place for the intervention, and plan what to say. They should also decide on what to do if the person refuses to quit drinking or using drugs. Some consequences in this case can include cutting financial and emotional support. Loved ones must realize and be ready to accept that they must put an end to their enabling behavior if they want to help.

STEP 3: After planning comes the actual intervention itself. During an intervention, an addict is confronted in a loving and respected manner about his or her substance abuse. The members of the confronting group will point out specific facts that prove that a problem exists. They will then give the person a choice between quitting or losing their support or enabling behavior.

Q: How do you reinforce consequences during an intervention?

A: By setting and respecting boundaries.

There are several distinct drug intervention steps that should be followed by anyone who wants to stage an intervention. During the process of intervention, an addict will be confronted in a respectful manner by loved ones who care about them. These loved ones will then attempt to convince the addict to seek treatment. If the addict does not agree, loved ones should be ready and willing to present an ultimatum or consequences.

What is most important about an intervention is following through. You may not be able to force the addict into treatment. However, you can enforce boundaries and consequences with a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol. You can remove financial, emotional, or housing support until he or she is ready to seek help. You might even refuse to include them in family activities until they seek help. Whatever you decide, follow through.

More here on the process:

Q: When should you call in help for an intervention?

 A: When you’re looking for results.

Many individuals believe that they can successfully perform an intervention without the help of a professional interventionist. In truth, while you can plan an intervention on your own, you can also feel lost or confused. This is why it’s recommended that you reach out to a professional drug and alcohol interventionist anytime you are planning an intervention. Below, you can find listed a few ideas of when to call in a professional interventionist for help. Call a professional when:

  • a previous intervention, without a professional interventionist, has failed.
  • all other attempts to get the addict to quit doing drugs or drinking have failed.
  • your loved one’s addiction is becoming a severe problem.
  • your loved one has already tried to quit drinking or drugs and failed.
  • your loved one’s substance abuse is causing financial, marriage, career, school, legal or health problems, yet he or she still refuses to quit.
  • you and your loved ones are ready to stop your enabling behaviors and are ready to show some tough love.

More reading on when to call in help here:

Q: What should I look for in a professional intervention service provider?

A: Certification, referrals, experience, and cost.

Not all intervention services are created equally. Today, anyone can refer to themselves as an intervention specialist, since it is a relatively new and is not a highly regulated field. Below, you can find a list of what to look for in intervention service providers.

Board certification: Truly professional interventionists will be board certified through the Association of Intervention Specialists Certification Board.

Cost: Intervention services can be expensive, but some interventionists are willing to work with clients and accept payment arrangements.

Education: A minimum of a master’s degree is required.

Experience: Interventionists should have several years of experience with drug or alcohol interventions.

Referrals and references: Good interventionists should come highly recommended.

State licensure: Interventionists should be state licensed counselors, therapists, or other mental health workers.

More information on professional interventionists here:

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Q: What are the principles of a successful intervention?

A: Not all alcohol interventions are successful.

Some may fail simply because the addict is not ready for treatment and others, because they were not planned or executed properly. The list below outlines 7 principles of a successful intervention for alcohol abuse.

1. Meet with an intervention specialist.

2. Plan ahead.

3. Choose the right people to participate in the intervention.

4. Choose the right time for the intervention.

5. Speak with respect and love, not anger.

6. Follow through.

7. Take care of yourself.

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