Interacting daily with a friend or loved one who’s living with a substance use disorder can create a lot of stress. Unplanned conversations about alcohol or drug use can quickly turn sour or even hostile when done by an individual. That’s when a team approach can be valuable.
Before using a team approach as an intervention, you’ll want to learn some important strategies about what to say to your loved one needing urgent help. In our experience, we’ve found that there are five major things to say at an intervention.
Holding an intervention for a loved one with a substance use disorder can feel unsettling. Knowing what to say or how to approach the important topics can create some momentum in the conversation. It’s helpful to remember this is a person you care about and want to see get to recovery. Statements should feel personal to the situation and remain positive and productive. Overall, you want to introduce the main reasons for the intervention, acknowledge the impact on the individual and the people around them, and introduce some potential treatment resources.
No single statement will make an intervention feel easier. At the same time, it’s important to think carefully about what you’re communicating to a loved one with everything you say. The collective comments can help steer your friend or family member to making the decision to start treatment.
Five Helpful and Healing Things to Say at an Intervention
1. “I love you.”
This statement isn’t limited in how many times you should use it. The act of an intervention should begin and end with love. You want to clearly communicate why love is shaping this whole event.
The words themselves may not feel like they’re enough on their own, but they’re still important for your loved one to hear. Feel free to personalize your statements, too. Explain what that love means to you. Remember love is unconditional as well. That can be an important follow-up to this statement. You want them to know that love stops for nothing, especially addiction.
2. “I forgive you.”
Offering forgiveness to a loved one can help set a positive and productive tone for the intervention. You’re acknowledging past troubles while indicating you welcome a new start in the relationship. There’s no need to list every incident and behavior that your forgiveness covers.
Showing forgiveness also demonstrates your interest in staying actively involved in their journey to sober living. You’re not focused on resentment and past hurts. You’re open to staying in the present and attending to each current step in their road to recovery.
3. “I’m here for you.”
You may begin to see a pattern in these statements. They are all about communicating how you see your loved one’s need for help and why you’re willing to support them. Your loved one won’t assume they have your support just because you’re part of the intervention. They need to hear it from you.
Not every person who says “I’m here for you” will mean the same thing. It helps to explain what that means in relation to your loved one’s treatment and recovery work. This can be a time to set expectations of how you will show up in their life at a time when support will be critical.
4. “I’m concerned about how your substance use has affected both you and the people around you.”
An intervention is a time to address the consequences of a loved one’s drinking or drug use directly. The intention isn’t to shame them for those choices. Instead, the goal is to safely communicate how their behavior has impacted them personally as well as affecting family members, friends, and coworkers.
This is a statement that can set a topic for the intervention in motion. Other people may want to add a personal way the loved one’s drinking or drug use has affected them. Each person present should be ready to acknowledge how their life has been touched personally by the substance use, even if they don’t end up sharing it during the intervention.
5. “I believe treatment is a strong first step for you.”
An intervention has a clear goal: help a loved one move in the direction of accepting help for their drug or alcohol misuse. Advocating for treatment should be clearly communicated during the conversation. You may have a specific type of treatment in mind or you may want to present several options.
The words “first step” here help set up an expectation that short-term treatment is only one part of a longer recovery process. Your loved one benefits from understanding their substance use won’t be conquered with a 30-day program and nothing to follow. Helping them see the value in a program to get started before exploring what continuing care options are available can encourage them to remain open to ongoing strategies to sustain the sobriety they achieve during an initial program.
Headwaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.