Intervention. One simple word, but yet it evokes such a vast range of emotions. Fear, anxiety, hurt, pain, and bitterness can all keep us from taking this step in addiction recovery. Thoughts that swirl through the mind when contemplating an intervention could include:
- What will they do?
- What will they say?
- What should I say?
- What if I screw it up?
- What if they hate me?
This mental narrative can prevent us from taking necessary action. Each recovery story is unique, but for many, an intervention is exactly what got them to the place they needed to be. A place where they were ready for a change.
You may be thinking, “Great! An intervention! That’s what we need to do!” But you also may be wondering on where to even begin. We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Kevin Parker, a recovered addict and former ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery at Rock Point Church in Crawfordsville, IN. His own journey of recovery started when his wife, children, and a few good friends staged an intervention that ended up saving his life and all he held dear. Since being in recovery, Kevin has been able to walk through the healing process with many others, and he has been kind enough to pass on some wisdom to us. When asked we could share this information with our S2L Recovery community, he quickly agreed and said that “all the credit belongs to God!”
The Steps of an Intervention
You may be asking yourself, “what is an intervention exactly?” A formal intervention is when a small group of people who prepare a time to sit down with the addicted loved one in order to: express concern and care, share the love and hurt, and to set up expectations, boundaries, and also consequences if the loved one chooses not to get help. Let’s look into the critical steps of successfully staging an intervention to help your loved one recover from their addiction.
Who to Join and How to Prepare
When setting up an intervention for a drug or alcohol addict you need to ensure you’re surrounding your loved one with the right people. Choosing the right group of people is key in an intervention. A group of 3-8 people is the most ideal, and each person should genuinely love and care about the addict. Be sure to avoid inviting anyone who may be angry or bitter. People with those feelings may use this as a time of retribution, whereas an intervention should be a time of deep love and care.
Once you have formed a group of carefully chosen individuals, set up a time or multiple meetings, to gather prior to the intervention. Take this time to get to know each other on a deeper level of understanding. Share with each other the experiences you’ve had when dealing with your loved one’s addiction. Be sure to reach a place of full comfortability, openness and unified making it so everyone is on the same page. By opening up this discussion everyone will know what stories your addicted loved one is telling and who has truly been helping out. This will be the best safeguard against manipulation and will help everyone to have the full story, understand the full picture and stay accountable. Don’t forget to pray together! This journey will not be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it.
Research and Learn
Encourage each person to learn as much as they can about their loved one’s addiction, about enabling behaviors, and about codependency. The more you each learn and comprehend, the better the group can help support your loved one in a real and healthy way. For example, if you have set up strong, effective boundaries, but Grandma keeps giving the addicted loved one money, nobody wins. Plus, many of us can discover own hurts and hang-ups as we have searched for answers. Loving an addict can seem completely counterintuitive to our feelings. However, we need to take responsibility for our part in the process of this faith-based recovery, as well.
Make sure to conduct thorough research prior to the addiction intervention. Find a rehabilitation center that has a good reputation, map out group meetings close by, and find the name of a Christian counselor or phycologist who specializes in addiction and recovery. Have a plan in place to make it easy for your loved one to take action and get help. Brainstorm all the excuses your loved one could possibly use such as:
- Time off work
- The need to rearrange their schedule
- Help with their kids
- A ride to meetings or appointments
Make a plan of action and choose who can help with each area of excuse. Be as prepared as possible for whatever excuse your loved one may use to say try and deny help with their addiction.
Choose a Support Team
It’s important for an addict to have a support team, those who will encourage, rally and help them through their journey of recovery. Before the intervention is implemented, choose people to be the addict’s support team! Some of the roles within the support team may be:
- Who can help clean out the loved one’s house or space – help them get rid of unhealthy items (drugs, alcohol, paraphernalia, etc)
- Who can visit with them – take time to pray with them and just be with them, enjoy one another’s company.
- Who can perform consistent check-ins – someone who reaches out on a daily basis to just remind the addict that they are loved, they are supported and through God’s movement they can make it through this recovery.
Make a schedule and be ready to share your plans thoroughly with your loved one.
Choose an Intervention Leader or Facilitator
For many addicts, chaos rules their life. They thrive on manipulation, high emotions, and trying to be in control. Having this main point person run the time will keep things orderly and calm. Agree ahead of time to only have the facilitator speak to the loved one outside of the letter reading time. There will be many moments during the intervention in which this will not be easy. Following this guideline may mean ignoring pleas, insults, and tears. Just remember, the goal is to keep everything progressive in an empathetic, strategic and somber way. You don’t want to let your feelings be in control of the intervention.
Writing a Letter to The Addict You Love
The last preparation step prior to an addiction intervention is writing a 1-2 page letter to your loved one. Each member of this intervention needs to partake in addressing the addict through these written words. This letter should include, but isn’t limited to:
- Ways that your loved one has been a blessing in your life
- Ways they have hurt you because of their addiction
- The consequences if they choose not to get help
For instance, the addict’s son could decide that Dad can’t come to his games anymore, or Mom decides that because of her son’s drug addiction, he can’t have any more help with his bills. Maybe the addict’s wife tells him that he will have to move out, or his friends tell him that he can’t come over any longer.
Consider holding another pre-intervention get-together where you can share your letters with each other. Practice reading them out loud and get comfortable with what you will be saying. Writing and sharing the letter is hard, and it can be very emotional. Take your time, pray for the right words, and remember that the goal is love and restoration!
S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee
Now that you and your group are ready, the next step will be to invite your addicted loved one and hold the intervention itself. We dive into the ins and outs of intervention day in It’s Time For An Intervention: Part 2 – Be Prepared. While dealing with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, redemption and peace can seem hard to come by. But continue to pray, seek the Lord and He will direct you in this process.
Please reach out to S2L Recovery and let us know how we can help you or someone you love through an addiction. We would love to pray with you and help you along this faith-based journey to healing.