3 Questions To Ask Before Staging An Intervention

3 Questions To Ask Before Staging An Intervention

People considering drug intervention programs for a friend or loved one with a substance abuse disorder may not know where to begin.

They just know that the breaking point is near and doing nothing will bring more heartache. More tension. More sleepless nights.

Intervention does work.

However, it is important to understand that relapse is considered a natural part of recovery.

In fact, according to national data collected by the NIH, between 40 percent and 60 percent of the people who seek addiction treatment relapse.

Knowing this, it is important that people staging an intervention invest the time and energy to give their loved one the best chance they can are gaining sobriety.

There are three important questions that need answers before staging an intervention.

Answering these questions improves outcome potential for the one with the problem, and the support network members who want the best for their loved one.

1) Is the Loved One Ready for Rehab?

Recovering addicts often say they wish their family better understood living with a substance disorder.

Here is a complication of some thoughts gathered by listening to people talking about their life before a professional intervention and rehabilitation program:

Addiction changed my life. I felt depressed and unable to understand exactly what was happening to me.

I couldn’t concentrate, my head felt cloudy. Sleep was elusive, and when I did sleep, I often woke up feeling more tired than before.

I lost all energy, all motivation to do anything, except focus on getting my drugs or alcohol. I didn’t want to work, but I felt guilty about not holding a job. Being depressed and tired, made me quick to snap at the people I love most. Every minute of every day was torture.

And, I didn’t feel like listening to anyone. Sometimes I felt invisible, other times I felt like I was living under a microscope. Nothing I ever did was good enough. I wasn’t good enough. Life was not easy. I just knew that without alcohol I never felt normal.

I tried to stop on my own—many times—but the withdrawal symptoms made me so sick I thought I was going to die. I had to drink. I had no choice.

When people watch someone lose control of their life, they naturally want to help. The reality is no one can make that decision to seek treatment except the one with the addiction.

There are many signs that an alcoholic may be ready for drug intervention services and watching for those signs could signal an intervention would encourage them to take the first step toward recovery.

Trying To Quit Alone

Some may try going cold turkey. Family can watch for alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 

Healthline lists the following alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which may present in as few as six hours after the last drink:

  • tremors
  • anxiety
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • an increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • high blood pressure

More severe, and potentially life-threatening symptoms may develop, depending on how long the person has been abusing alcohol, and how much they consume each day.

More Signs They Are Ready For Treatment

Other things to watch for include talking about getting help, admitting their finances, relationships, and work habits are deteriorating, or outright asking for advice about treatment options, although they may say something like, “One day I really should look into one of those rehab clinics.”

Alcohol intervention programs provide guidance for family members considering a staged intervention.

Meeting with a program counselor, or talking with a specialist by phone, helps people develop a watch-list. 

A watch-list is a list of things to keep an eye out for, like:

  • changes in behavior
  • mood
  • conversation topics

These things often indicate an individual has reached the point they are ready to seek professional help.

Observation, initiating non-threatening conversations with substance abusers when they are lucid and calm, and speaking to a drug rehabilitation specialist are all important aspects of preparing for a drug or alcohol intervention.

2) Which Drug Intervention Programs Are The Best?

The best drug intervention programs, like non 12 step rehabilitation programs, are specifically tailored to individuals.

These programs are based on someones:

  • preferred drug
  • length of dependency or addiction
  • underlying mental and physical health conditions
  • and many other factors including socioeconomic status, education, and ethnic background.
What To Look For When Searching For Treatment Options

When researching drug intervention services, look for a facility that follows evidence-based, best practices that include an immediate transfer to a well-qualified detoxification program after the client agrees to seek treatment.

It is helpful for people who have reached the breaking point and feel like it is time to force a loved one into rehab, to realize what an intervention is, and what it is not.

An intervention is not a forced admission into one of the alcohol intervention programs in the area.

What Is An Intervention?

An intervention is a carefully planned meeting designed to encourage a substance abuser to voluntarily enter a rehabilitation facility for treatment. 

Drug and alcohol research data over the past four decades has proven that no one treatment is right for everyone.

However, studies show that a successful intervention, one that includes an escort to a detoxification center at the meeting’s conclusion, often yields better outcomes.

Giving those struggling with addiction time to think about their options and consult with peers—who may also have substance abuse disorders they struggle with—weakens the resolve to seek help.

Enlisting Professional Help

The role of an intervention specialist is to guide, educate, assist, and facilitate a staged intervention. These professionals typically:

  • Guide: Helping families and loved ones choose a time and location for a safe, stress-free conversation about drug use and rehabilitation options.
  • Educate: Helping families gain valuable information about addiction, the causes, risks, and rewards of seeking help to overcome the power of addictive substances.
  • Assist: Helping intervention attendees prepare a plan for success.
  • Facilitate: Helping resolve conflicts, answer questions, provide support to participants, and to keep the conversation focused on the topic of drug intervention services.

One of the key benefits of working with a professional alcohol intervention facilitator is the help they provide during the intervention plan creation.

3) What is A Substance Abuse Intervention Plan?

The best-laid plans don’t always work out the way they look on paper.

However, planning for the best, and preparing for the worst, is an essential part of staging an intervention. The process is complex. And, it may take several days or even many weeks to do it properly.

A well-designed, carefully-crafted intervention plan includes:

Research: Comparing alcohol intervention programs, and both in-patient and out-patient rehab facilities, as well as learning more about relapse prevention and after-care programs in the area.

Research also helps people better understand the overwhelming physical and emotional impact of drug and alcohol misuse. The more people learn about a specific addiction or dependency, the better equipped they are to help people suffering from a misuse disorder, and better-equipped to evaluate potential rehabilitation clinics.

For example, many people, perhaps most people, do not know enough about what excessive alcohol does to the body. Or, that men are twice as likely to abuse alcohol than women. And, almost one-in-ten (8.5 percent) US adults have an alcohol use disorder in any given year. 

The Merck Manual, which provides evidence-based guidance for physicians and consumers, also points out that some liver disease can be reversed by abstaining from alcohol. The risk of developing one of the many alcohol-related liver diseases increases with time and consumption, even when no apparent symptoms are present. Some possible symptoms the liver is in distress include:

  • jaundice
  • fatigue
  • organ enlargement
  • tenderness and pain
  • deteriorating brain function
  • bleeding in the intestinal tract
1. Consulting trusted sources:

Trusted sources provide vital information about specific symptoms and behaviors associated with alcohol addiction.

Contact with interventionists, physicians, and community resource agencies also helps the meeting organizer to explore lifestyle options and work opportunities moving forward, after rehab.

These contacts may provide information about preparing for daily life after the intervention or what resources are available to help the person seeking sobriety and their support network throughout the recovery process and beyond.

2. Collecting information:

Talking to family, friends, co-workers, and others close to the person who the people planning a staged intervention want to help.

By talking to the circle of contacts, it is possible to gather information vital to plan a stress-free, productive meeting. This step will also help the organizer determine who should, and who should not attend the gathering.

People with a vested interest in helping the individual gain freedom from addictive behavior include spouses, children, extended family, clergy, employers, and close friends.

It is important to include people who are calm, compassionate, and supportive while excluding volatile, combative, and emotionally fragile persons who may derail progress with behavior or actions that make anyone attending feel threatened or afraid.

3. Pre-treatment group session:

Once a group of participants is created, it is time to schedule a pre-intervention meeting. During this meeting, the organizer may share information gleaned from drug rehabilitation facilities and other professionals about addiction.

Participants will also determine the consequences and boundaries, should the person misusing drugs or alcohol choose not to enter a formal recovery treatment plan. Some people may choose to break away from the relationship completely.

Others may withdraw financial support or housing until such time the addict successfully completes a rehabilitation program. When articulating these consequences, and during the entire intervention, is important to use language that doesn’t condemn or judge.

For example, people should say, “I can no longer allow you to live here,” rather than “You are impossible to live with.” Assertive language is more effective and emotional, without casting blame and guilt.

At this stage of the plan, everyone should be able to:

  • commit to a certain time and date for the gathering
  • decide on where to hold the intervention
  • who will be responsible for getting the individual to the meeting
  • exactly what will be said to convince their loved one it is time for life-changing behavior modification.

Some people find it helpful to ask their facilitator to attend this group session.

Finding Help For Intervention Planning

Ideally, the intervention will be successful, and the intervention manager or a designated meeting participant will immediately transport the addict to a prearranged facility for detoxification and rehabilitation treatment.

If not, participants who outlined the consequences must immediately implement those changes. Someone who said they were going to withdraw financial or housing support must do so immediately, no waiting until tomorrow, next week, or when the addict finds a place he can afford or a couch where she can crash.

Likewise, the team members who promised a safe, welcoming environment after rehab, should start preparing for discharge day as soon as the addict enrolls in a drug or alcohol treatment center.

The Recovery Process After Intervention

After-care is crucial for recovery. And, it is important to realize formal interventions require high levels of commitment, a lot of hard work, and professional partners with experience to guide the process.

When done properly, they can lead to positive outcomes and strengthened relationships.

Professional Intervention and Treatment Services At Elevate

The recovery journey is personal, but that doesn’t mean it should be completed along.

Elevate offers client support throughout the recovery journey. Our drug intervention programs and alcohol intervention programs include guidance and intervention planning services for people who want to help someone they care about break free from harmful drugs and alcohol.

Contact an admission counselor to learn more about staging an intervention, tracking rehab progression, and creating a welcoming after-care environment for the person returning to the fold after treatment ends.

Sobriety requires a life-long commitment from the recovering addict and his or her support network.

Tim Sinnot Medical Review
Medically reviewed by
Tim Sinnott, LMFT LAADC

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Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.
elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.