family Intervention

Family First: Tips for Staging A Family Intervention

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated April 21, 2019

What do you do if one of your loved ones is suffering from the debilitating illness of addiction? It can be a tough situation but it can be made even worse if your family member won’t admit to their problem and accuses you of snooping on them.

Suddenly you or other members can end up feeling like you are the ones in the wrong and question yourself. What if you take things too far and you end up being cut off? 

Sometimes gathering all of your family together and confronting your relative is the only logical step forward to ensure your addicted relative gets the help they need. 

Here’s how to stage a family intervention. 

Talk About It

If you suspect that a family member has a secret addiction, the worst thing you can do is keep your suspicions to yourself. Around 9.4% of the U.S population was addicted to illegal and illicit drugs in 2013. This is a big societal problem that cannot be solved by staying silent. 

Keeping your emotions and feelings bottled up inside is also not good for you. It can make you feel as if you are holding onto your family member’s secret as much as they are.

But it can also make you inadvertently complicit in their behavior. You are, in some ways, condoning their addiction. 

Instead, be sure to talk through your thoughts and feelings with other family members that you trust. 

Only choose family members who are likely to be of help to the situation. Choosing relatives that you don’t trust or who you think will anger your relative with the addiction could inflame the situation. 

By carefully selecting other family members you can also share information and start to build a picture of what is really going on to help your relative. 

This can feel like you are spying on your addicted relative and can lead to you engaging in clandestine behavior. But don’t feel guilty. You are acting in your relative’s best interests.

Be sure to recognize that addiction does not just come in the obvious forms of drugs and alcohol it can also be related to online gaming, social media or dieting. 

Seek Expert Advice About Family Interventions Before You Act

Planning a family intervention without any idea of the risks or what might take place is a high-risk strategy.

Instead, seek proper advice from experts before you embark on this course of action.

At Northbound Treatment our substance abuse treatment program starts when you make a phone call or email us telling us that you suspect your loved one has a problem. We even have a live chat box on our website.

This way we can advise you on what to do if you are thinking about intervening. You can listen to our advice and decide whether our program is a viable option for your loved one. 

Plan The Day

Planning is everything when it comes to staging an intervention that is going to be successful in reaching its end goal. 

What Is Your Goal?

The first thing to establish after already deciding which other relatives you trust to tell about your loved one’s problem is what you hope to achieve. 

The usual goal is for your loved one to admit to their problem and to stop telling lies. This way you can decide what will happen next together.

But sometimes the goal could be bigger, particularly if the addiction is clearly out of hand. It could be that you agree that your loved one should attend an addiction clinic either as an outpatient or at a residential clinic

But be sure to keep expectations relatively low and try to avoid an ultimatum situation as this can lead to high stakes and your loved on feeling under pressure. This, in turn, could lead to violence or them cutting everyone off. 

The Venue

It is always best to pick somewhere neutral for the intervention, where your loved one will feel at ease. A public place like a coffee shop is not a good idea.

Nor generally is it a good idea to stage an intervention in your loved ones home. While they might feel most at home here they might also feel that you have violated their personal space. Also, remember that your loved one is perfectly entitled to throw you out of their home.

A better place would be the home of a trusted relative or friend. Particularly if that friend is not going to be party to the intervention itself and can be out of their house or apartment at the time. 

This means it is a neutral place that both parties can leave at any one time and neither side has control over. 

Rules of Engagement 

Be sure to set clear boundaries about what is acceptable behavior and what the consequences will be if these boundaries are breached.

For instance, if your loved one becomes violent, decide together beforehand whether you are going to phone the police and whether you will press charges. 

If you know your relative has committed criminal offenses in relation to their addiction and refuses to comply with the conditions you set out, decide whether this will mean you phoning the police.

Be warned though, involving the police could backfire and could lead to your loved one taking an overdose or taking other extreme measures. Always consult an expert before you decide on anything like this. 

Try Not to Be Dramatic 

It is important that you do not overdramatize the intervention or make your loved one feel as if they are on trial. There are many television shows from Dr. Phil to Jerry Springer or Jeremy Kyle which supposedly offer a  “tough love” approach.

However, these shows are designed largely to make good television. There are often a host of professionals backstage to pick up the pieces afterwards. Be calm and respectful.

A Drug Rehabilitation Clinic is the Answer

Ultimately, a family intervention should be the start of a process in which your loved one gets professional help with their addiction.

And we can help, every step of the way. So don’t delay be sure to contact us today.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.


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