If your loved one struggles with substance use disorder (SUD), you may have tried a family intervention to convince them to get professional help. Interventions are one method for providing resources and communicating your concern for their health and well-being. However, everyone responds differently, and early intervention is critical.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “The goals of early intervention are to reduce the harms associated with substance misuse, to reduce risk behaviors before they lead to injury, to improve health and social function, and to prevent progression” of the disorder. Newport Beach Recovery Center can provide resources, treatment programs, and referrals for individuals with SUD. Family members can also contact us on behalf of their loved ones. We can give you the tools to conduct an early intervention and protect your loved one from further harm.

What Is a Brief Intervention?

Brief interventions are a standard tool for increasing self-awareness and presenting treatment options to individuals with SUD. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Brief intervention focuses on increasing insight and awareness regarding substance use and motivation toward behavioral change.” The person with the SUD may be aware of the upcoming intervention, or they may not be informed ahead of time, depending on the circumstances.

Other interventions include those conducted by family members or mental health professionals. Family interventions are often informal, conducted by various family members or close friends, and occur within the home. You can work alongside an addiction specialist when planning a family intervention. Professional interventions are led by someone with experience in the mental health field and usually occur in a neutral setting, like a therapy office. The goal is to provide information, education, and motivation for your loved one.

Why Participate in an Intervention?

Interventions show that you care about the health and safety of your loved one and that you have concerns about their risk-taking behaviors. People with SUD have low self-awareness because of maladaptive behaviors, lack of essential skills, and changes to the brain caused by substance abuse. Interventions can provide the insight they may not currently have the capacity to achieve independently.

Family members often participate in or host an intervention due to the following:

  • Concern for their loved one’s mental health
  • Physical health scares caused by substance abuse
  • Legal or financial issues related to substance abuse

Realistically, all these reasons and more can warrant an intervention. You should feel motivated to host an intervention from a place of love and concern.

Why Do Some Interventions Not Work?

Interventions do not always work because every case is unique. Some people don’t receive the kind of encouragement they need. Other people may not be ready to hear the reality of their situation. In addition, well-meaning family members or friends may conduct poorly constructed interventions. Some common mistakes people make when attempting an intervention include:

  • Setting unrealistic expectations
  • Blaming, accusing, or using judgmental language
  • Not educating themselves about the realities of addiction
  • Setting the intervention in a location that puts pressure on the individual with SUD
  • Not actively listening or attempting to communicate honestly
  • Expecting immediate results or giving them an unrealistic ultimatum

Any small hiccup can derail an intervention. As such, participants should practice what they’re going to say and the words they’ll use.

What Are Essential Elements of a Successful Intervention?

As we just discussed, there are many ways a person can mess up an intervention. Luckily, this isn’t a hopeless situation bound to fail. Interventions that work involve the following four features.

#1 Honest Communication

When planning an intervention, you need to assess your own pain points related to your loved one’s substance abuse. In the intervention, you can address these honestly. Honest communication will allow you to stay compassionate during the intervention. You should avoid using blaming words to the best of your abilities. Make factual statements, actively listen to their concerns, and provide relevant responses.

#2 Neutral Territory

Where you choose to have an intervention will affect the outcome. If you choose a space that puts your family member on edge or makes them feel threatened, they may not listen to what you have to say. Hosting an intervention in your home or a place with negative memories for your loved one may set them on edge before you even start. The last thing you want is for them to feel threatened or uncomfortable. A neutral location is best.

Examples of neutral locations include:

  • The home of your loved one
  • A mutual friend’s home
  • Your therapist or counselor’s office

When choosing a space for the intervention, look for the following:

  • Privacy
  • Comfort
  • Convenience
  • Safety

If the person receiving the intervention knows about the plans, you might consider asking them where they would feel most comfortable. They may open themselves up more to the possibilities if they feel like they’re actively participating in the planning.

#3 Nonjudgmental Language

Words matter, and how you choose to talk about the person and their substance abuse will impact the intervention. Nobody likes to feel judged, and language should remain supportive or neutral even if you want to use “tough love” to wake your loved one up to their current circumstances. Nonjudgmental language can stop them from automatically going on the defensive.

#4 Professional Consultation

You want to see your loved one heal and recover from substance misuse. Addiction recovery professionals like the ones at Newport Beach Recovery Center can help determine if your loved one would benefit from an intervention. When you reach out, we can guide you through how best to approach it. We can also provide you with information, referrals, and educational resources to help you prepare for the intervention.

Interventions are a helpful tool for families and mental health professionals who want to help someone struggling with substance use disorder. You can improve the likelihood of success by setting the intervention in a neutral space after consulting with mental health or addiction recovery professionals. If you have previously tried an intervention and it did not work, then your loved one may not have been ready to hear the reality of their current circumstances. You cannot control their response, only how you prepare for the intervention and react to them. Interventions can fail if you get too emotional or try to set unrealistic ultimatums. Instead of using an intervention to force your loved one to change, you can use it as an educational moment to give them critical insights into their condition. To learn more about how we can help, call Newport Beach Recovery Center today at (888) 850-0363.