Interventions for substance abuse: 5 things to avoid

Most addicts aren’t willing to admit that they even have a problem, let alone agree to seek treatment for their problem. To improve your odds for a successful substance abuse intervention, what should you avoid and what are best practices? We review here.

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Interventions for substance abuse

If you have an addict in your life, you know how difficult it can be to get him or her into treatment. Denial can be a strong defense mechanism keeping an addict in illness. If this is the case, interventions for substance abuse may be the answer. What is an intervention?

An intervention for substance abuse is a carefully planned process that is designed to get an addict to stop his or her substance abuse. Typically, a group of loved ones will gather together to confront the addict in order to accomplish this. This process requires a great deal of planning and patience, but for some families, it’s their last chance at getting their loved one into treatment.

What happens during substance abuse interventions?

First of all substance abuse interventions require a great deal of planning. There are numerous strategies for interventions and it’s good to get informed before choosing an interventions specialist or an intervention approach. Before an actual intervention, loved ones should meet with an intervention specialist and plan out every detail. This includes who will attend the intervention, where it will be held, when it will be held, and what will be said.

Once an intervention has been planned, one or more members of the group will be responsible for getting to addict to the prearranged meeting spot on time. The group will then persuade the addict to simply sit and listen as they each take turns telling him or her how the substance abuse is harming everyone around them.

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An intervention typically concludes with the group giving the addict a choice – seek substance abuse treatment or face consequences that their loved ones put in place.

Things to avoid during interventions for substance abuse

A substance abuse intervention is a very delicate situation. Certain actions and behaviors during interventions could backfire. There are certain things to avoid during interventions for substance abuse.

  1. Being judgemental
  2. Speaking with anger
  3. Trying to shame or embarrass the addict
  4. Involving  anyone who condones or participates in an addict’s substance abuse
  5. Holding an intervention when a loved one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Tips for successful interventions for substance abuse

Although there are things to avoid during interventions for substance abuse, there are also a few things that can make nearly any intervention successful. Below is a list of tips for successful interventions for substance abuse.

  1. Consult with an intervention specialist
  2. Plan every detail of the intervention in advance
  3. Speak calmly and with respect
  4. Present factual information and examples
  5. Make arrangements for your loved one’s treatment in advance

Interventions for substance abuse questions

Is your loved one struggling with a substance abuse problem? Are you ready to stage an intervention to get them into treatment? If you need more information or have substance abuse intervention questions, we’re here to help. Just leave any questions or concerns you might have in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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Reference Sources: MAYO Clinic: Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction 
AIS: What is an Interventionist?
4therapy.com: Choosing an Interventionist
AISCB: Code of ethics for board registered interventionists
AIS: What an Interventionist is not?
AIS: Why a Board Registered Interventionist?
How Stuff Works: 5 Family Intervention Tips
Drug Abuse Archives: Drug Abuse Prevention Through Family-Based Interventions: Future Research 
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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  1. Thank you for mentioning how substance abuse treatments start with a lot of planning and support groups. I can understand that taking the time to learn this and to find the best treatment for your needs can help you find the best way to help you deal with substance abuse. A friend of mine was talking about how he needed to quit abusing a substance, so I’ll share your page with him for help.

  2. We have a family member who is an addict and we would love for them to get the help that they need. We don’t want to push them away from getting help and don’t know what to do. That is a good idea to talk to an intervention specialist before we confront them about getting help. I think that would definitely help things go much smoother. Thanks for the tips!

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