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What is an intervention?
An intervention is a carefully planned process in which family and friends, and sometimes colleagues, clergy or others, join together to confront someone about the consequences of alcoholism, addiction or another mental health problem, and ask him or her to accept treatment. The intervention:
* Provides specific examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on the addicted person and loved ones
* Offers a prearranged treatment plan
* Spells out what each person will do if a loved one refuses to accept treatment
Who might benefit from an intervention?
An intervention can help people who struggle with addictive behaviors but who are in denial about their situation or who have been unwilling to accept treatment. Some examples of behaviors that may warrant an intervention include:
* Prescription drug abuse
* Abuse of street drugs
* Eating disorders
* Compulsive gambling
People with addiction often don’t see the negative effects their behavior has on them and others. It’s important not to wait until they “want help.” Instead, think of an intervention as giving your loved one a clear opportunity to make changes before things get really bad. How does a typical intervention work? An intervention usually includes the following steps:
A family member or friend proposes an intervention and forms a planning group.
2. Gathering information.
The group members find out about the extent of the loved one’s problem and research the condition and treatment programs. The group may make arrangements to enroll the loved one in a specific treatment program.
3. Forming the intervention team.
The planning group forms a team that will personally participate in the intervention. Team members set a date and location and work together to present a consistent message, treatment plan and changes each person will make if the addicted person doesn’t seek treatment. Keep the plan confidential until the day of the intervention.
4. Deciding on specific consequences.
If your loved one doesn’t accept treatment, each person on the team needs to decide what action he or she will take. Examples include asking your loved one to move out or taking away contact with children.
5. Writing down what to say.
Each member of the intervention team should detail specific incidents where the addiction has resulted in problems, such as emotional or financial issues. Discuss the toll of your loved one’s behavior while still expressing care and the expectation that your loved one can change.
6. The intervention meeting.
Without revealing the reason, the loved one is asked to the intervention site. Members of the core team then take turns expressing their concerns and feelings. The loved one is presented with a treatment option and asked to accept that option on the spot. Each team member will say what specific changes they will make if the addicted person doesn’t seek care.
Involvement of a spouse and family members is critical in helping someone with an addiction stay in treatment and avoid relapsing into old patterns. This can include changing patterns of everyday living to make it easier to abstain from the destructive behavior, offering to participate in counseling with your loved one, seeking your own therapist and recovery support, and knowing what to do if relapse occurs.
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