How to stage an adolescent intervention


It is common for substance abusing teens to lose track of their daily life activities and spiral out of control. What starts as trying a certain drug one time, just to see what all the fuss is about, can eventually lead to habitual use. From there, psychological addiction, as well as physical tolerance, can develop. When adolescents have a severe drug problem, it will often become known sooner or later to those close to them in their life. Family members and friends can choose to stage an intervention as alarming signs start to manifest.

The timing

First of all, it’s critical to host an intervention when the young person is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If he or she is coming off the effects of a particularly strong illicit substance, such as a narcotic, then he or she should first make a full recovery and get cleansed before the intervention takes place.

It will also be necessary to avoid any hypocritical behavior, especially on behalf of the parents if they’re dealing with their own drug problem. In more complicated family situations such as this, their habit will often need to be addressed first in order to improve the likelihood of recovery for others in the family.

It’s also recommended to stage a dress rehearsal before the actual intervention and write letters to the person. This way, participants will know in advance exactly what they plan to say. The intervention should only bring up what are known to be proven facts about the person and his or her drug use. For instance, drug paraphernalia is being found on a regular basis in the home. There could be unexplained trips to the bathroom if a teen is trying to hide using a needle. Of course, the actual drugs themselves or drug residue can sometimes be found with thorough searching. If an adolescent is smoking a controlled substance, parents will often smell it burning at some point or another.

There should be no distractions and the best time is often in the morning if the teen is sober. Turn off the television and avoid being distracted by mobile phones. A wide range of emotions are of course possible, such as shock, embarrassment, guilt or shame. It will be up to the participants to help minimize such emotions at this time.

Family and close friends should focus on what the preferred action is for those who are in need of an intervention. Reservations at a treatment center should be planned in advance so that the teen is able to accept help right away if he or she is indeed willing. Make sure that any objectives for the intervention are met during its full course. It will be important to be honest and clear about intentions so there is no deception. Shouting matches or angry arguments should also be avoided as much as possible.

The person who will be in charge of the intervention will often ask specific questions to have a better understanding of why drug abuse has caused a number of life conflicts. The person could have an underlying health disorder and therefore be attempting to self-medicate for symptoms. Otherwise, the adolescent could have a debilitating physical dependence on the drug. Whatever the case may be, it is important for the drug user to feel he or she is not being punished. Otherwise, he or she could instinctively recoil from the effort to get help.

Avoiding hypocrisy

Many teens, perhaps in an attempt to keep the focus off of themselves, could project their own habits by confronting parents about their own history with drugs. If parents have tried certain drugs and have not been forthcoming about their use, they do the disservice of being dishonest on the subject and losing their teens’ trust and respect. If parents are honest, then they have the option of elaborating based on their experience. This can include the differences between occasional, moderate drinking and severe alcoholism. If an intervention begins to get out of control, then a break could prove helpful to allow participants time to cool down, though the process should still be completed.

In more serious cases, family and friends may have to cease support of the person if he or she repeatedly refuses treatment. This could include no longer supporting a person financially so that he or she is no longer able to fund the drug habit or simply choosing not to associate with a person until help is sought. Harsh as it is, it is meant to show the drinker or drug user just how serious the substance abuse has become. Those who have faced second-hand challenges as a result of the abuse will have the chance to offer their point of view. The ideal outcome is that the person will accept the help and be willing to change for the better so that his or her livelihood and health is no longer at risk.

If your teen is struggling with substance abuse and you would like more information on how to stage an intervention, contact White River Academy at 866-520-0905 to ensure it’s done as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.

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