What to Say and What Not to Say at an Intervention

Last Updated: September 25, 2023

Words are important. The age-old adage, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” isn’t true anymore in today’s world. Language has become more and more important. It’s a sign of respect, of restraint, and a way to effectively communicate. That’s why words are incredibly important at an intervention. What you say in an intervention can affect someone’s life forever, so it’s important to choose your words wisely, no matter what intervention method you use. Let’s take a look what to say and what not to say at an intervention:

What To Say At An Intervention

When participating in an intervention, you should be genuine, honest, and compassionate. Keep in mind that your loved one may be in great amounts of pain. Be sensitive to that when you go into it and keep the follow things in mind.

Do Speak From A Place Of Love

Even if you feel hurt, anger, or resentment, you’re there participating in this intervention for someone you love, who you want to see get better. Remember that when you speak and express the love you have for them.

Do Speak About Addiction As A Treatable Condition

Remind your loved ones that addiction is a disease that has and deserves treatment. You have the power to remind them that they are not a bad person, they’re just a sick person who needs to get well. Tell them that they don’t need to worry about using their willpower to get better because treatment, medical professionals, and group therapy can help them.

Do Calmly Communicate Your Message

I don’t recommend staying silent the whole time. You can calmly and constructively communicate your message without anger or high expectations. Tell your loved one your concerns and how you want to see them live a healthy, happy life without harmful substances.one your concerns and how you want to see them live a healthy, happy life without harmful substances.

Do Offer Your Support

Express to your loved one that you will support them on their journey of recovery in the best way you can. This doesn’t mean sacrificing your bottom line, but it means that you’ll support them as they heal and get better as long as they are participating in their recovery.

Do Use “I” Statements

Remember, an intervention isn’t an attack on the person with a substance use disorder. You want to talk about your experiences using “I” statements to avoid accusatory language and be true to yourself throughout the intervention.to avoid accusatory language and be true to yourself throughout the intervention.

Do Consult The Advice Of A Professional

When organizing an intervention, it’s best to take the advice of a trained professional. If you can have an interventionist there with you to make sure the meeting goes smoothly, that is ideal. An interventionist has the knowledge and experience to prepare you and your friends and family for a successful intervention. They can recommend language to include in your intervention letter, who should go first, how to create a bottom line, and what to do if the intervention doesn’t go as planned.

What Not To Say At An Intervention

Interventions can be full of emotions, expectations, and anxiety. It’s imperative to stay calm during the intervention so the collective goals can be achieved and the person who needs help can get it.

Don’t Come From A Place Of Anger

It’s possible that you will feel anger because of the addiction of a loved one, but an intervention isn’t the place to voice that anger. If the person in your life who needs help becomes angry, it’s best not to engage in an argument with them.

Don’t Use Derogatory Names

Name-calling won’t help the situation. Even if your loved one is being negative, you don’t have to participate. Stick to the goal of the intervention, which is to get them help.

Don’t Focus On Failures

The intervention shouldn’t be about shaming or blaming the person with an addiction. It should be centered around a love for that person and the desire to get them help. Don’t point out all the horrible things your loved one has done and expect them to take responsibility for their actions. Taking responsibility comes with healing. During the intervention, you don’t want them to feel alienated or like such a failure that they don’t feel like they deserve help.

Don’t Accept Excuses

It’s not uncommon for people who need interventions to try and negotiate the circumstances that they want for treatment. Common responses might be, “I’ll go later, or tomorrow,” or “I can’t leave my kids or my pets.” You’ve established your bottom line before the intervention, and you need to stick to it. You won’t be doing your loved one any favors by agreeing to their negotiations.

Don’t Use Labels

Instead of attempting to classify them as an alcoholic or addict, use specific examples of how your loved one’s addiction as hurt you or affected your life. For example, when they forgot to pick the kids up from school or when they hid bottles around the house.

Knowing what to say and what not to say at an intervention can help you help others successfully. Helping your loved ones get the treatment they need and deserve can be a satisfying and life-changing event. Language matters, and that’s why you should take these recommendations into consideration before participating in an intervention.


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