It's heartbreaking watching a loved one dig ever deeper into addiction or alcoholism, and families often feel impotent to do anything to effect change for the better. Lecturing, scolding and nagging have proven useless, and in some cases can make the problem worse, and too many families cling to a mistaken belief that only the addict can decide to get help when they're ready.

Thankfully, that popular conception is false. Families can exert an powerful influence towards treatment, and once someone enters into drug treatment or rehab (even if they maintain that they don’t need it) those days of therapy, sobriety and introspection can do a lot to change one's perspective, and statistics show that those people who were pressured into rehab do just as well as those people who went of their own accord.

The intervention

Interventions are astonishingly effective in convincing of a need for treatment, and one carefully executed meeting of concerned family and friends can change a lifetime of abuse and tragedy. But a poorly run, negative or confrontational intervention can backfire, and in fact be worse than no intervention at all. The stakes of success are high, and it’s imperative that you get it right.

3 steps to a successful family intervention

1) Planning

The emotional complexity of a family intervention for the most part precludes a hastily assembled group and a poorly run intervention. Many family members may have conflicted emotions about the addict, and mixed with concern and love are equal feelings of anger, shame and guilt. For any chance at success, the tone of the intervention needs to stay positive and stay caring, and family members will need to be educated on how to make an appropriate contribution, and everyone will benefit from a practice run of the intervention.

The practice run can ease some of the anxiety family may feel about and honest and heartfelt confrontation, and it will also help to ensure that things proceed smoothly on the day of the event.

At least one pre intervention meeting is essential, more is better.

2) Wide participation

The effectiveness of the intervention hinges on the comprehensiveness of the participating friends and families. Using addicts and alcoholics cannot easily maintain a strategy of denial when confronted with unified and caring testimonials of all important people in their life, and without public denial, it is far more difficult to ignore the need for help.

But if many people are absent from the intervention, the addict may well feel able to maintain a sense of denial, thinking that the many loved ones not present at least do not share in feelings of a need for treatment.

Everyone close to the addict should be invited to participate, and this includes children, who can offer hard to ignore and powerful testimonies of hurt.

3) Have treatment pre arranged

The ultimate goal of the intervention is to have the addict proceed immediately into treatment. A concession of a need for help, and an agreement to go may not last, and it is vital to act fast. Have the treatment arranged, have responsibilities covered and bags packed. There should be nothing left to do at the end of an intervention other than get in the car, and get into rehab.

Follow these three steps when planning a family intervention and you have a far greater chance of achieving the desired end result, and making a powerful difference in the lives of all.

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