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How You Should Plan For The Intervention

Sep 16, 2008
Dr. Phil advises not to wait until your loved one "hits rock bottom" before planning the intervention, "because [the] bottom may be six feet under." To reach the drug or alcohol abuser through layers of denial is no easy task. Families can carry out a successful intervention plan if they are organized, informed and able to communicate effectively.

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple "How are you doing?" at a critical moment to reach the substance abuser. Other times, you will need to break through layers of denial. While the substance abuser may react harshly at first, the family intervention may ultimately be a lifesaver.

The first step for an intervention is to choose the members to be involved. This group generally consists of three to eight people comprised of family members, friends, coworkers, clergy or a professional interventionist.

Each person must be firmly committed and able to look the addict in the eye and say "You have a problem." They must firmly resolve to end the cycle of enabling to really help the person. The team members must have intimate, first hand knowledge of the situation to successfully break through the addict's denial.

You must select people who have leverage and influence over the individual, who have the ability to make an emotional impact. In some cases, a seemingly helpless person like a young child could have the largest impact. Never underestimate the power of love. Prior to the intervention, a chairperson and a detail person should be chosen to facilitate the process and to keep a record of everything.

The next step of the intervention is to plan a two-part letter with a professional interventionist. Once everyone has assembled, family members and friends read Part A of the letter, where they express the facts that they have witnessed, as well as their own emotions regarding the problem.

Alcohol or drug interventions involve a host of emotions but participants are asked to avoid anger, judgment or criticism. In some cases, the first part of the letter is enough to sway the substance abuser. In other cases, the individual's response to intervention techniques is negative and the treatment plan is refused.

Then Part B is read, which outlines the consequences of inaction. In some instances this means refusing financial assistance, cutting off contact or threatening to call the police.

Be sure to avoid confronting the person in a public place or with an aggressive, authoritative tone. No one likes to be "told what to do" and this approach will set you up for failure. By the same token, no one wants to be guilt-tripped or "ganged up on" either.

If some people are extremely angry with the individual, then they should not participate in the intervention. You should present the situation using clear facts, supporting evidence, personal feelings and persuasion. Express your concerns first and foremost.

Perhaps you are worried about raising the children in an alcoholic household or you fear the deterioration of the individual's health and ultimately losing him or her. There's no telling exactly how the substance abuser will react, yet having a well-thought intervention plan is the best thing you can do to help.
About the Author
Learn more about perparing for the intervention at Mike Selvon portal. While you are there leave us a comment at our health interventions blog, and receive your FREE gift.
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