An intervention is a meeting between a person whose addiction is deepening and those who care for that person, in an attempt to help the addict see the need for treatment. Oftentimes in an intervention, people each read a brief letter they’ve written to the addiction. The letter is written ahead of time, prepared and thought through. The overall goal of an intervention is to help dissolve the wall of denial. An intervention that succeeds will help the addict realize they are hurting themselves and others and that the way out of their situation is through treatment. The problem must be defined factually and the acceptable solution must presented.
Tips For Writing An Intervention Letter
It’s profoundly important that an intervention is not used as an opportunity to gang up on the addict and guilt someone into treatment. An intervention is meant to convey concern and love, compassion and kindness. At no point should shame or shaming be used. An intervention is not the place to start arguments. An intervention is also meant to serve as a notice to that addict that matters have become very serious and cannot go forward as is. An intervention is a turning point.
The power of an intervention is a through the repetition of the facts about how a person’s abuse of substances is affecting everyone. It might seem odd to say that the facts are the critical matter here, but they are. An intervention must emphasize how the addict’s behavior is hurting themselves, others, and it must provide a way for the addict to resolve the situation, through treatment. An intervention also needs to state what each person is willing to do to help the addict, if the addict gets into treatment. You must always specify the outcomes. Don’t leave it to the addict to agree to treatment and only then decide to look into treatment. Have several treatment options ready. Get brochures and phone numbers. Be willing to help the addict make calls and help them through the mechanics of getting clean. Do not waste an opportunity to help someone get care by failing to plan for them actually accepting treatment.
As there really is a lot to cover in an intervention, both the message and the format need to be prepared in advance. One way to make sure that everything goes correctly is to break up an intervention message, or an intervention letter, into 5 sections. Let’s look at those sections:
Part I: Communicate your love and respect for the addict. You have to be genuine here. This is why you cannot conduct an intervention when you’re angry, or if you feel more motivated to punish your loved one than help them.
Part II: Lay out the severity of the situation. To do this, have facts, dates, situations, and circumstances in which your loved one’s addictive behavior has hurt them or someone else all carefully laid out. As you can see by now, an intervention is not done on the spur of the moment. Avoid labels. Addicts are in denial and labeling them as an “addict” to their face, even if you believe it’s true, will get you into the teeth of an addict’s denial, in exactly the wrong way.
Your loved one will argue. Keep repeating the facts. Make sure your information is correct. In all events, avoid opinions or anything that can be construed as an opinion. Someone losing a job due to absenteeism from using drugs is a fact. If a person is unable to afford housing because of their inability to keep a job, that’s a fact. You don’t need to convince someone they’re an addict. That isn’t your job in an intervention. Your job is to let your loved one know you care, that their problem is everyone’s problem, and that there is a way out.
Everything that is factual, from employment, quality of life, emotional health and wellbeing, to legal issues, is fair game for you to address with your loved one.