If your teenaged child is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may feel frustrated, angry, and at a loss when it comes to approaching them. You should know that you are not alone in this struggle: every year thousands of parents are faced with this situation. You are doing the right thing by intervening with them, and by helping them get the treatment they need, you may be setting them back on the road to a happy and productive adulthood. There are a few things you should do when planning an intervention for your teen.
Know who else has been affected by their drug use.
It is likely that you are not the only one who is being affected by your teen’s dangerous behavior. Talk to your spouse or partner if you are married, and if you are divorced from your child’s other parent, consider talking with them to see if they have noticed the signs of your child’s addiction. If your child has older siblings, consider looping them in as well. If you are close to your child’s friends, especially the ones they knew before they started using, you may want to get in touch with them as well.
Talk to a professional interventionist.
Interventions are delicate discussions that should always be led by someone who is very familiar with the nature of addicts and addictions. You should never try to stage an intervention on your own. Once you have gathered the group of people who are interested in being a part of an intervention, you should meet with a professional interventionist. They will ask you about your relationship with your son or daughter and the way that it has changed because of their drug use. They will talk to you and/or the other people involved in the intervention and help you formulate a game plan. Because an interventionist has helped with many interventions, they let you know what you may expect from your child once you confront them. You may also be put at ease by an interventionist, who can help reiterate the idea that you are not the only parent who has dealt with this problem.
Decide when and where the intervention should take place.
Ideally, you want to speak with your teen when they are sober. Try to identify what time of day they are least likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many parents find that early morning - right when their child first wakes up - may be the best time to talk to them because they will not have yet had the opportunity to use. You should also pick a place for the intervention where your teen will feel as safe and unthreatened as possible. If your child feels that they are under attack, they are much less likely to be receptive to what you are saying, so try to talk to them in what they consider a safe space.
Write down what you want to say.
It is difficult to stay on subject during an intervention, because everyone involved will likely be very emotional. Having a professional interventionist there will help keep the discussion on track, but you should also plan on writing an intervention letter that outlines the way your teen’s addiction is making you feel. This will help you avoid saying hurtful things, or statements that come out of anger rather than concern. Remember that addiction is a disease, and that your biggest goal is to convince your teen to get the medical care they need to get better. Stick to just the thoughts that you write down or discuss with the interventionist.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.