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What to Say and What Not to Say During an Intervention

Staging an intervention is one of the most effective ways to get a loved one who is refusing to go to rehab to agree to treatment. Interventions help your loved one understand how their behaviors and substance abuse are affecting others, which can make them realize the need for professional help. 

Unfortunately, interventions can go wrong quickly. Saying the wrong thing can make your loved one upset, angry, or argumentative. Knowing what to say and what not to say during an intervention can help ensure your intervention’s success.

One of the best ways to make sure your intervention goes positively is to work with an interventionist or addiction specialist. An addiction professional can guide you through the intervention planning process, step by step, and help you mediate the intervention itself. Speak with a team member at Mandala Healing Center today for intervention support.

What to Say During an Intervention

Examples of phrases that are helpful during an addiction intervention include:

“I am worried about you because…”

Using statements that begin with “I” can help you avoid coming off as accusatory. This statement also gives you an opportunity to give specific examples of why you are concerned. Rather than focusing on the bad things your loved one has done, focus on why you want them to get help.

“Addiction is a disease–and treatment really does work”

Reminding your loved one that addiction is a disease and that you view it as such can reassure them that you are not judging or condemning them. There is a major stigma about addiction, and some people view it as a choice or a moral failing. Viewing addiction in this light can be harmful to the people who need help.

Although addiction is a disease, it can be treated. With the help of an individually-tailored treatment program, anyone can recover. Reassure your loved one of this. If available, you may even tell your loved one about the success rate of the rehab center you want them to attend.

“Think about all the things you could get back”

Ask your loved one to reflect upon all of the things they lost or compromised as a result of their substance abuse. Whether your loved one dropped out of school, got fired from their job, got separated from their spouse, or lost custody of their children, these are all things that can be mended–but only if they get sober.

Use your best judgment and remind them of how much better things will be a year from now if they get help.

“I love you and I’m here for you”

Throughout the intervention, it is crucial that you remind your loved one of your love and support. Phrases like, “I love you,” “I care about you,” “I will support you during treatment,” and “I want to see you get healthy” can be very reassuring and motivating, especially coming from someone who really cares.

What Not to Say During an Intervention

Saying the wrong things or focusing on the wrong goal can jeopardize your intervention. You should not:

  • Place blame on your loved one – Addiction is a disease, and although your loved one may be responsible for their behaviors, blaming them for their substance abuse won’t get you anywhere. Placing blame can make your loved one feel embarrassed, ashamed, or angry, which may result in them refusing help.
  • Start an argument – Emotions are already running high during an intervention, and arguing will only make things worse. Do your best to remain calm and avoid yelling.
  • Negotiate – Your loved one may try to talk you out of sending them to rehab, but you shouldn’t give in. If you negotiate the terms of your loved one’s treatment, they may try to take advantage of you in the future. Remain firm and stick to your original plan.
  • Focus on the problem rather than the solution – Dwelling too much on what your loved one did wrong can make them feel upset or ashamed. Instead, focus on the solution, and why you’d like to see them sober and healthy.
  • Make threats – It’s important to uphold your boundaries, letting your loved one know what you will and will not tolerate, but that does not mean making threats. Threatening your loved one may make them resentful and angry, causing them to refuse help.

More Ideas to Consider When Speaking During an Intervention

Once you have an idea of what to say and what not to say during the intervention, you can also consider the tone and manner in which you speak. A few guidelines that will help you and your intervention group be more impactful include:

  • Always remain calm. Talk in a gentle, caring tone, even if your loved one objects to your demands.
  • Avoid placing blame by using “I” statements, such as “I feel like,” “I have noticed,” and “I am concerned because,” instead of “you” statements.
  • Be prepared to provide specific examples of how your loved one’s addiction has affected you.
  • Reassure your loved one that you love and support them, and that you only want what is best for them.
  • Remind your loved one that you are always available to help them get treatment when they are ready.

If you work with a professional interventionist he or she may instruct you and your family to write impact statements beforehand. Your impact statements will be read during the intervention. Planning what you want to say beforehand can be extremely helpful. It can also help you make sure you don’t leave anything out when it comes time for you to speak.

Find Help For an Addicted Loved One Today

Asking for help is the first step toward a better life. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please don’t hesitate to contact a team member at Mandala Healing Center. We’re available 24 hours a day to take your call, assess your needs, and assist you in starting treatment.