The most important part of an intervention is the words you choose to say to your loved one.
The things you decide to say can have a profound impact that can significantly affect the individual’s life going forward. You need to not only choose your words wisely but also pick when and how to say them carefully.
Here are some ideas and examples of what to say at an intervention. You can include them in an intervention script or in letters of encouragement for an addict.
“I Love You”
These three simple words sum up the reason you are part of an intervention in the first place. An intervention is not a comfortable or fun experience for anyone, especially the addict. It’s important to start off by letting them know the reason you’re there is that you love and care about them and want them to get better. The whole idea of an intervention is to come from a place of love and not anger.
“I Believe in You”
Often, an addict might not believe in themselves and not think that they can get better. That’s why it’s essential to offer your loved one some initial motivation by letting them know that you believe in them. Remind them of their strength and tell them that you believe they can recover, become a healthier person, and live a happier life.
“I Will Be Here for You”
After you let your loved one know that you love them and believe in them, you should make it clear that you will be there for them along every step of the path to recovery. Tell them you know it won’t be easy, but that you will be there to lean on during the hard times. Knowing that they don’t have to go through it alone and isolated from you will make the thought of seeking treatment less daunting to the addict.
“Thank You for Everything You Have Done for Me”
Focus on some of the positive moments you have had together with your loved one and thank them for being in your life. Remind them that they are valuable to you and you want to continue having them in your life in a positive way. Your loved one needs to remember what things were like before they became addicted and imagine how much better things could be after they get treatment.
“I’m Worried About You, Our Family, and Your Children”
This is your chance to express yourself and let your loved one know just how worried you are about them, their well-being, and how their addiction is affecting others. Explain how their behavior is hurting their family, especially their children, if they have any. Let them know that you want them to get better not only for themselves but for the sake of everyone around them that they are hurting.
“Your Addiction is a Disease”
Many addicts are in denial about the nature of their addiction. They don’t want to see it as a sickness and often believe that they can stop whenever they want to. You need to explain to your loved one that what they have is a disease, and like all diseases, it is treatable. This will place you on their side in the battle against addiction.
“Addiction Treatment Works and You Can Get Better”
Because so many addicts relapse after treatment, many people don’t believe it works. The fact is that with all chronic diseases, there is a high chance of relapse, and addiction is no different. However, just like with a chronic illness such as cancer, it is possible to eventually get better, even if it takes several treatments. Explain to your loved one that treatment is their best opportunity to get better.
What Not to Say During an Intervention
As important as it is to know what to say at an intervention, it is equally important to know what not to say. If the addict feels attacked, shamed, or guilt-tripped, they will be much less responsive, and the chances of a successful intervention are slim. What is an intervention, after all? It’s a time for you to express your genuine concern for a loved one, help them understand that they are ill, and encourage them to get better, not to attack them in a confrontational manner.
- Use “you” excessively. Try to make “I” statements as much as possible to avoid making the person feel defensive.
- Get angry, swear, or name-call. Try to keep your emotions under control and avoid using harsh words.
- Blame or shame the person for things they have done. Try to focus on offering solutions rather than dwelling on the problems their addiction has caused.
- Justify their problem or accept excuses. The addict needs to understand that they are responsible for their actions, and it’s time to get treatment, not make excuses for their addiction.
- Let them think everything will continue as is if they refuse treatment. Make sure they know that if they don’t get treatment, there will be consequences.
Consider Consulting a Professional Intervention Specialist
When you’re planning an intervention, it’s always recommended to consult with a trained interventionist beforehand to ensure that you know exactly what to say during the intervention to achieve the desired outcome.
Even if you are certain of what to say at an intervention, a professional interventionist will be able to offer advice to other friends and family who may not be. They’ll be able to help develop an intervention script and plan the order of speakers.
With the help of an interventionist, the overall odds of an intervention’s success are much higher. You can even include the specialist in the actual intervention if you think your loved one could benefit from having an expert there to explain things like how addiction is a disease and how the treatment works. Lastly, if the intervention doesn’t work as planned and your loved one still doesn’t want to get treatment, an interventionist can offer guidance on what to do next.