The Time for an Intervention

What is the appropriate time for an intervention? Unfortunately, this has less to do with the family schedule and more with what’s happening in the addicted person’s life.

The optimum time for an intervention is just after a major event. Such an event would be arrested or when they have wronged (lied, stolen, cheated, etc.) a family member and shows remorse or guilt. Another would be a spouse leaving. Yet another would be after an overdose. 

Although you obviously don’t want to risk the person’s life by postponing forever, an intervention will be exponentially more effective after such events when the individual is down and feels like their world is coming to an end.

Choosing the Appropriate Time for an Intervention Can Lead to Success

Even in the absence of these situations, an intervention can be successful, especially if the person is close to their family. They see each other on a daily basis so that every little situation is known. The life of an addicted person is a major roller coaster, and the only way they can deny their problem is to hide these from those who love them successfully.

Important Timing & Planning

The appropriate time for an intervention is when the person is sober. In the case of cocaine or methamphetamine, this should be the morning after the person has slept.

In the case of heroin, methadone or opiate-type drugs, it will be when they are withdrawing and not high. In either case, attempting an intervention while a person is high will usually fail because they are unaware of their problems, and their attention will be fixed elsewhere.

In general, the appropriate time for an intervention is all-important and needs planning. Still, at the same time, the life of the person suffering is very unstable, so opportunities present themselves quite frequently.

General Language or Message for the Intervention

The intention should be clear. It should be unwavering. The family should definitely express concern but not sympathize. Sympathy is a form of agreement and can backfire by justifying drug addiction or alcoholism. So you should avoid it at all times, instead show concern.

Without showing anger or fear, the person should “get” that the drug or alcohol abuse is known by everyone present. That they need addiction treatment. Don’t permit family problems and life’s troubles to get the attention off the point that the addiction problem needs fixing. This is where the family’s preparation pays off. If the person refuses to listen or understand, there is always plan B.

Next, Plan B when help is refused.

Mother and son
Marc J. Bernard

Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

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