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Seeing a loved one struggle with addiction can make you feel powerless. As much as you want to reach them, they reject the help, denying they have a problem time and again. They may claim they can quit anytime they like, only to return to their substance of use a few days later to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. This cycle is not only painful to watch, but it is also harming you and your ability to live a healthy, fulfilling life.
Instead of giving in or feeling hopeless, there is still something you can do to take action and get your loved one the help they need to make a fresh start. An intervention is a valuable tool in the arsenal of anyone who wants to make a difference in the life of an addict.
What Happens During an Intervention?
The word “intervention” might bring images of an emotional, tearful family confrontation to your mind. While these dramatic moments pull on your heartstrings when you’re watching a movie or TV show, impromptu interventions are rarely successful in real life. Instead, you and your family should carefully coordinate every element of an intervention if you want the meeting to fulfill its goal of getting your loved one to agree to seek help.
Decide the details several weeks in advance, including:
- Researching options for treatment centers
- Where you will hold the intervention
- Who will participate
- What time you will gather
- Where participants will sit
- What steps you will take if the meeting is successful, and vice versa
- What everyone will say
The final element in this list is, perhaps, the most critical one to get right. As much as you might think you can speak directly from the heart during an intervention, you could easily lose track of what you want to say if you don’t plan it out. You could even get so emotional that you say the wrong thing, causing the subject of the intervention to react with anger or hostility. That is why everyone who agrees to take part in the meeting should write an intervention letter during the planning process.
The Advantages of Writing an Intervention Letter
Though the primary purpose of hosting an intervention is to benefit your addicted loved one, the reality is that it can help you and everyone else who participates, as well. Finally getting an opportunity to express how you feel in a non-judgmental way can be incredibly cathartic.
It’s crucial to remember that reading prepared remarks aloud during the meeting won’t make your concerns feel less valid or sincere. Indeed, writing, rehearsing and fine-tuning what you want to say will help guide the course of the intervention and will help everyone stay on track during the meeting.
When planning your intervention, go through a rehearsal phase in which all participants read their letters aloud. The rest of the group can provide guidance and feedback that helps ensure all the letters have a similar tone and are aligned toward the same goals.
An intervention can be an emotionally fraught experience for everyone involved, but knowing everyone has planned their remarks can help you stay calm and confident that you will have a positive outcome.
Tips for Writing a Successful Intervention Letter
How can you write an intervention letter that gets the results you want, especially if writing doesn’t come naturally to you? Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
- Open the letter with an honest statement full of your genuine love and compassion for the addicted person.
- Point out that you recognize addiction is a disease, not a moral failing, and that you know they did not choose this path for themselves. It’s likely the addict feels considerable guilt for their behavior, so framing your remarks this way helps convey that you understand the difference between who the person is at heart, versus the decisions their addiction has compelled them to make.
- Without blaming or shaming your loved one, mention concrete examples of how they behaved when they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and how that affected you. For example, “It hurt me so much to see you in jail after you got that DUI in September. I know you are better than that,” or, “It’s humiliating for me to have to lie to your boss and tell her you’re sick when you’re really too hung over to go to work.”
- Remind the person that you have their best interests at heart. Then, explain that you and the rest of the group have identified a treatment option for them, and that you are asking them to accept your offer of help. You could say something like, “Addiction is 100 percent treatable, but you can’t do it alone. That’s why we’ve found a wonderful place where you can start to get your life back. Are you willing to get treatment?”
Professional Intervention Management
You may have heard someone say that addiction is a family disease. That’s because families function as a connected unit, with each member playing a role. A family living with a substance abuser in their midst can feel as if they’re trapped on a rollercoaster ride, with no chance of getting off. It’s normal for families of addicted loved ones to be confused, angry, sad, frightened and unsure of how to help the person find their way out of the cycle of addiction.
The good news is that there’s hope. A professionally managed addiction intervention can guide you and your loved one to the next steps of the recovery process. Interventionists have made a career out of working with families and showing them how to convince someone to pursue recovery. They can advise you on what to say, and can orchestrate every facet of the meeting so you have a better chance of achieving your goals.
Are you and your family looking for a professional interventionist in your area? Beach House is here for you. Call our counselors anytime, 24/7, for a free, confidential consultation.