The Appropriate Time
The Time for Intervention
When does the intervention take place? Unfortunately, this has less to do with the family schedule and more to do with what’s going on in the addict’s life.
The optimum time for an intervention is just after a major event. Such an event would be arrested, or when he/she has wronged (lied, stolen, cheated, etc.) a family member and shows remorse or guilt. Another would be spouse leaving. Yet another would be after an overdose. Although you obviously don’t want to risk the addict’s life by postponing forever, an intervention will be exponentially more effective after such events when the addict is down and feels like his/her world is coming to an end.
No Major Events
Even in the absence of these situations, an intervention can be successful especially if the family is close to the addict on a daily basis so that every little situation is known. An addict’s life is a major roller coaster and the only way an addict can deny their problem is to successfully hide these problems from those who love him.
Important Timing & Planning
The intervention should be done when the addict is sober. In the case of cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. this should be the morning after the addict has slept. In the case of heroin or 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 extremely high will usually fail because the addict can not see many of their problems and their attention will be fixed somewhere else.
In general, the timing of the intervention is all-important and needs planning but at the same time, an addict’s life is very unstable so opportunities present themselves quite frequently.
General Language or Message for Intervention
The tone should be a concern. The intention should be clear. It should be unwavering. The family should definitely express concern but not sympathize with the addict. Sympathy is a form of agreement and can backfire by justifying the drug addiction or alcoholism.
Without showing anger or fear, the addict should “get” that the drug abuse or alcohol abuse is known from everyone present and that he/she needs addiction treatment. Don’t permit family problems and life’s troubles to get the attention off the point that the addict has an addiction problem and it needs to be fixed. This is where the family’s preparation pays off. If the person refuses to listen or understand, there is always plan B.