What Not To Say At An Intervention
An intervention can be a roller coaster of emotions for all those involved. It is often a drawn-out process, with family members and their addicted loved one unloading years or decades of pent up frustrations.
We shouldn’t forget why we’re here – we’re here because we care enough about our addicted loved one that we are willing to draw a line in the sand. While it’s tempting to jump in and shower the addict with our pent up rage, it won’t have the desired effect should you choose to go that route.
An intervention requires careful planning. Most of all, it’s important to know what to say and what not to say at an intervention. Hostility should be replaced with a calm, thoughtful approach. You want to be supportive of your loved one at every stage of recovery and nowhere is this more true than during the intervention.
Leave Your Anger at Home
An addict who is being confronted at an intervention already knows that his loved ones may be angry. He can sense the anger immediately and it will put him on the defensive. Instead, approach him with love. Lay out your frustrations and the consequences of his addiction, especially how his addiction has effected his loved ones. An intervention is no place to vent your anger or frustration. If your addicted loved one becomes angry, resist the temptation to respond in anger.
Don’t Even Think About Name Calling
Using derogatory names does nothing but intensify the situation. Love the sinner, but hate the sin. If you truly love someone, you must address their actions. Calling them names dehumanizes them and they will surely become more defensive and possibly even hostile. The goal of the intervention is to get your loved one the help they need. If you truly understand the nature of addiction, you’d realize how powerless addicts become the deeper they sink into it.
Don’t Relive Their Failures
An addict doesn’t need to be reminded of their failures. Instead of rehashing events such as a lost job, failed marriage or loss of custody of a child, instead focus on how the addiction drove them to do things that were out of character. By doing this, the addict can blame the addiction for missteps in his life and will hopefully realize that the addiction, a silent enemy, is ruining his life. You have to be very careful here. Reminding them that the addiction is responsible for the undesirable consequences of each poor choice they’ve made in their life is a far better approach. Yelling at them about every little failure or mistake is a great example of what not to say at an intervention.
Don’t Accept Their Excuses
Addicts in interventions might try to negotiate the circumstances under which they’ll accept treatment or they might try to delay it. They’ll say things like “I’ll go later, or tomorrow,” or “I can’t leave my kids or my pets.” You absolutely must establish a bottom line – draw a line in the sand – and stick with it. No one in the intervention can show flexibility on this. Make it clear that if the addict refuses treatment now, they will have no further contact with any member of the intervention until they’re ready to check in to a rehab facility.
Don’t Brand Them With Labels
Calling an addict an addict or a junkie solves nothing. People suffering from substance abuse know what they’ve become but feel powerless to change it. Instead of trying to brand them with an unsavory label, focus instead on examples of how their addiction made them hurt you or how it affected your life.
Knowing what to say and what not to say at an intervention can help increase your chances of success. Keep your eye on the prize and remember that getting help for your loved one is the sole consideration. Your words matter more than you think.
Don’t Make Them Feel Worthless
Addiction is a disease. While the addict made the initial choice to take that first dose, an addiction is formed through changes in the brain caused by the addiction. At this point, they’re almost powerless. Making the addict feel weak or worthless in an intervention just puts them on the defensive and can cause lingering feelings of worthlessness even after recovery. Instead, focus on how the addiction overcame their will to stop and how rehab and recovery is the only solution to a happy, sober life.
Your Loved One is Still a Loved One
Most of all, remember that this person is a loved one. Despite their mistakes, you still love them. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be staging an intervention. No matter how angry or resistant they become during the intervention, you must remember that a life is at stake. Set aside your negativity and focus on a positive outcome.