6 Things You Should Say During an Intervention

woman with teenIt’s likely that people who live with an addicted person have an entire list of things they’d like to say to that person about the addiction and the impact that addiction is having on the rest of the family. It’s also likely that the family members want to find a way to share their thoughts without resorting to yelling, screaming or causing further damage. There’s a fine line between honesty and effectiveness when it comes to interventions, and people often need to be quite careful to choose the right words and use them at the right time, if they want to ensure that the person who needs care will be truly motivated to get help when the intervention is over. These tips might help.

By ensuring that these six phrases make it into intervention letters, families can ensure that their messages of love and support are heard loud and clear by the person who needs care.

1. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me.”

According to interventionist Jeff Jay, people who walk into an intervention expect to hear words of blaming and guilt, and they may be on guard and ready to fight back at the first sign of attack. Families can diffuse this situation by using thankful or admiring phrases in their intervention messages. By reminding the person that he/she is valuable, and that the contribution the person makes to the family is both important and respected, families can help the person truly understand the need for improvement. They might be able to remember what the relationship was like before addictive drugs entered the picture, and they might be motivated to enter care as a result.

boy with drug addiction2. “I love you.”

Addictions can be isolating, allowing the person to feel as though no one understands and no one really cares. In time, the addiction can seem like the person’s only friend and only source of joy. That isn’t true, of course, but an addiction can place a veil between the person and the truth. Reminding the person of the tender feelings the family holds, and the close bonds the family once shared, can help to break down that sense of isolation and help the person to understand that a different path is possible. It can be tempting to use hateful words in an intervention, venting the anger the family members may have been holding inside for years, but using words of love and support is a much more helpful way to reach the person who needs help.

3. “I am worried for our children.”

Addictions can be passed down through the genes, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that about half of a person’s susceptibility to addiction depends on the genes that person has. However, children who grow up in addicted families might also develop later problems with substance abuse as they might be subjected to:

  • Violence
  • Verbal abuse

  • Poverty
  • Insecurity

Children might also watch their parents closely on a day-to-day basis and pattern their own behavior on the rules they see their parents following. For example, they may be tempted to lean on drugs when days are difficult and they feel ill at ease. Addicted parents may be absorbed in their own patterns of abuse, but reminding these people that their children could be at risk for similar problems down the line could be a good way to motivate them to change.

4. “I will be here for you.”

Codependent Spouse

People participating in these interventions may have their own stories of addiction and recovery to share. For example, a study in the American Journal on Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that many female drug addicts began using because their partners did so. One part of a married couple that has kicked the habit is in an excellent position to discuss how treatment works and why it might be beneficial. This person doesn’t need to discuss addiction history at length, but just allowing the person to comprehend that other people understand the process and will be willing to help when times are tough might be enough to help the person see the need for care. Promising to attend meetings with the person, or promising to listen whenever the person needs to talk, could help the person to feel less isolated and perhaps a bit more willing to accept the needed help.

5. “Addiction treatment works.”

Support Groups

The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a chronic disease that involves cycles of relapse and remission. Those who would demean the rehab process suggest that a relapse is a “failure” of treatment, proving that addictions can never truly be cured. It’s one way in which addicted people might convince themselves that their addiction issues don’t need to be confronted. If real healing can never take place, why should the person change?

These sorts of issues are addressed at length during addiction treatment programs, but families can introduce the concept in their interventions. They can provide statistics about the number of people who complete their addiction programs, or they can cite statistics about crime reductions attributed to a lack of drug use in their own cities or states. Families can even share stories from other people who have gone through treatment on their own, and who don’t regret that decision at all. Sharing stories like this can help to break down denial and prepare the person for the work of treatment.

6. “Addiction is a physical disease, and you can get better.”

In the past, people were encouraged to believe that addictions were caused by a lack of willpower. People who had addictions were slapped with labels such as:

  • Worthless drunk
  • Lazy drug user

  • Eternal child
  • Weakling

People who have addictions may hear these voices in their heads when they think about their addictions, and the depression these hateful words can cause can lead them into further drug use and abuse. However, the more experts learn about addiction, the more it becomes clear that addictions have very little to do with willpower. For example, according to the University of Utah, drugs of abuse cause such severe changes in the dopamine pathway in the brain that the brain scans of people who use drugs and those who do not look dramatically different. People who abuse drugs do physical damage to their bodies, and this damage makes them physically dependent on drugs. They can’t just wish it away, as much as they might like to do so.

This is the sort of message an interventionist is best positioned to provide. This trained expert can help the addicted person really understand how addictions work on a chemical level, and how those chemical changes are typically treated in an addiction recovery program. This could be a powerful moment in the midst of an intervention. People who understand that they have a medical problem might be more apt to accept medical help in return.

Time to Get Started

It’s easy to see how an intervention could help someone who is using and abusing drugs and alcohol. When they are confronted by their family members and told about the benefits of treatment, they might be persuaded to get the help they’ll need to leave their addictions behind and develop a more successful way of living. An intervention could help these people to turn their lives around. But, interventions can also be helpful for the family members of the addicted person. A study of the issue in the Journal of Mental Health found that learning more about an illness that impacts a family member can reduce the stress and tension families feel, regardless of how the patients do in treatment.

Preparing for an intervention is one way to learn more about addiction, and it’s a great way to get the whole family started on the road to wellness. Please contact us and help us find you the right interventionist to help your family. Operators are standing by.

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