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What To Say At An Intervention

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

It is time. You have probably had enough of your loved one’s addiction, and it’s time to put your foot down. There are a couple of common tactics and ideas you should remember to say during the intervention. Remember, to always hate the disease and not the abuser. It’s crucial to understand what to say in intervention and ensure everyone communicates properly. Besides communicating properly, always remember to have a plan. Who will be present? What will be said? And make sure you go in with a goal in mind: getting help at an addiction treatment center at the conclusion of the intervention.

If you are looking for help for you or a loved one, call our team at 844.912.2284.

Thank your loved one

Probably not what you were expecting to read. At one time in life, your son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, or friend made you happy. They might still, but you know the substance abuse creates fog in the brains. Remember all of the times they made you happy. If it’s your son, thank them for Mother’s Day cards. Think of their precious traits and good actions and state them out.

The intention of saying feelings of gratitude during an intervention is to communicate value. Remind them they are valued, adored, and loved, rather than attacking them. It’s helpful to remember to diffuse situations, rather than attack them.

“You’re not alone”

Remind your loved one no matter all the harm they have done, they will not be alone while getting help. Many addiction treatment centers offer family therapy to not only help the individual but help families as well. Family therapy ensures while the client is getting help, the families are as well. Many times hate occurs when dealing with addiction and it’s crucial to understand that the disease hurts everyone not just our clients.

Constantly remind them you will be there. Say it over and over again during the intervention. Perhaps state you will drop them off at treatment and constantly visit and attend family therapy sessions once per week.

“Think about where you could be in one year from today”

In other words, think about the future. If your loved one fell off a path of attending college, talk about going back to school. Remember what their hopes and dreams were and remind them to become their own success story. Words of encouragement and affirmation are better than pointing fingers. We have seen countless success stories and clients earn amazing jobs through our vocational development program.

“I love you”

While it may seem like a standard to say “I love you” during an intervention, you should see how many people forget. Interventions are done strictly out of love and care. Just saying the three basic, meaningful words ensures communication is being brought out of love. Addiction causes people to feel like no one cares. Reminding them of love will often create feelings of sentiment.

“I am worried about you”

It is important to find a critical balance between positive communications and putting negative actions on the table. Ensure to communicate how they might have harmed you. Try not to belittle them, or make them feel inferior. Remind them it comes from a place of love and worry. Talk about why you are worried and be firm about your feelings.

Remind them, they need professional help

Prepare a list of benefits and tell a story about how you think addiction treatment will help them. It’s important to say this at an intervention to spark a visual story in their head. If you do not feel confident selling them on a program, call an addiction treatment center. Then, ask them for a summary of how it can help benefit their loved one.

For example, if you need to convince your loved one to treatment, you can say something like:

“This treatment center is located in Orange County and they specialize in treating substance abuse and mental health. I believe their therapeutic services will help change your life.”

Family Therapy – “You have been mentally harmed by your addiction and events that have gone on. This type of therapy will help heal us as a family. “

Group Therapy – “I know how difficult it is to talk about your problems. Group therapy will allow you to bond with other individuals who have gone through similar traumatic events.”

an infographic of what to say during an intervention

Other Thoughts On What To Say During an Intervention

Words are very powerful, especially during an intervention. They can always harm or hurt the situation. Ensure you are coming from a place of love when you are putting your foot down. Allow your loved one to know that you will not be putting up with the behavior anymore, but you also that you still love them and want to see them get better. Think about the compliment sandwich.

Compliment – Thank you for fulfilling my dreams of being a mother and constantly making me smile.

Issue or Action – However, your actions need to stop. You are harming yourself and constantly fighting or arguing. We need to get you help.

Compliment –  Know that we love you, and will be there for you every step of the way. We will drop you off at treatment and attend every single family therapy session. Your future and your life are most important to us.

Now you know what to say during an intervention. To remind you, there is a very thin line you have to walk during an intervention. Let’s talk about things you SHOULD NOT say during an intervention.

someone who learned what not to say at an intervention

What Not to Say at an Intervention

While know what to say during an intervention is vital, it is just as important to know what not to say.

Again, if you need assistance or even intervention services, contact our team at Renaissance Recovery.

An intervention for drug or alcohol abuse 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 ones speaking up about years or decades of pent-up frustrations. We shouldn’t forget why we’re here – we’re here because we care enough about the addicted loved ones that we are willing to draw a line in the sand. There are certain things you shouldn’t say during an intervention in order to encourage and not discourage your loved one.

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 during an intervention. Hostility should be replaced with a calm, thoughtful approach. You want to be supportive of your loved one at every stage of addiction recovery and nowhere is this more true than during the intervention.

The following are the six things you shouldn’t say or do during an intervention.

1. Leave Your Anger at Home

An individual who is being confronted at an intervention already knows that their loved ones may be angry. They can sense the anger immediately and it will put him on the defensive. Instead, approach them with compassion. Layout your frustrations and the consequences of addiction, especially how the addiction has affected their 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.

2. No 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 ones the help they need. If you truly understand the nature of addiction, you’d realize how powerless those with addiction have become the deeper they sink into it.

3. Don’t Relive Their Failures

An individual suffering from addiction doesn’t need to be reminded of their failures. Don’t revisit negative 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 blame is placed on the addiction for missteps in life and your loved one will hopefully realize that the addiction, a silent enemy, is ruining their life.

You have to be very careful here. Yelling at them about every little failure or mistake is a great example of what not to say at an intervention. 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.

4. Don’t Accept Their Excuses

Those who need interventions might try to negotiate the circumstances under which they’ll accept substance abuse 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 person refuses treatment now, they will have no further contact with any member of the intervention until they’re ready to check in to an addiction treatment facility.

5. Don’t Brand Them With Labels

Calling someone suffering from addiction 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.

6. Don’t Make Them Feel Worthless

Addiction is a disease. While your loved one 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 person 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 person will overcome their addiction 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.

come to Renaissance Recovery and learn how to stage an intervention

Treatment for Your Loved One at Renaissance Recovery

Whether you’re unsure of how to stage an intervention or have just completed one, the experts at Renaissance Recovery can help.

Call us to speak with compassionate experts about addiction treatment in Orange County or what you should and shouldn’t say during an intervention.

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country