What Not to Say at an Intervention

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 one 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 our addicted loved one 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 at 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 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. Lay out 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 one 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.

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. Contact us for a consultation and find out what the following programs can do for your loved one:

Call 866.330.9449 to speak with compassionate experts about addiction treatment in CA or what you should and shouldn’t say during an intervention.

Renaissance Recovery provides a structured, supportive, family-based environment for clients to grow and develop healthy habits and life skills. In addition, clients learn the coping mechanisms needed to lead and support a functional and successful lifestyle—sober. We are a long-term, solution-based addiction treatment center, where client recovery is our top priority. We provide a multitude of addiction treatment programs in California that provide the necessary support for long-term addiction recovery including: