Intervention 101:
Step one—Create a Plan

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery


When people ask me how I succeed, I tell them I do a lot of planning, and then I plan some more.

Preparation is the best way to prevent sudden upheavals or panic and the best way to promote certainty within the family about what to do at any given time.

Most interventions that fail, do so because of a lack of planning. Families tend to be perfectly ready to initiate a meeting and make the offer of help, but when a peaceful intervention turns into a Wes Craven movie, many families find themselves without a solid contingency plan, unable to control the situation—all because of a lack of planning.

Planning and the ability to abandon or create new plans as you go may be the single most important aspect of a successful intervention.

It’s like prepping a house to be painted. If you go into it thinking that preparation doesn’t matter as much as getting a few gallons of paint on the walls, you soon realize, as the paint peels after the first rain, that you should have taken the time to put on a coat of primer instead of rushing to paint.

Pushing through an intervention in an emotionally-charged state is fine, even expected, but it’s not an excuse to be reckless or unprepared.

Ninety-nine percent of intervention disasters are caused by families rushing in, bypassing preparation in favor of “getting it over with.” Then, when all hell breaks loose those families have no idea what to do. They pull their hair out, blaming each other or blame the overwhelming power of the addiction when the problem was simpler than that… it was a lack of planning.

Part of winning is staying in one piece so that if something happens, you can continue the race. In preparing for an intervention, instead of being afraid that a crisis will occur, plan for it to occur and how you’ll handle it. Take the time to be meticulous and thorough and you will never regret the time spent doing it. You won’t use every contingency you plan for, but if and when you need them they’ll be there.

Here’s an example: If you think there’s even a slight chance the addict will walk out of the meeting, then you need to come up with a scenario where you plan for him to walk out. This means assigning someone to go after him, deciding exactly what that person will say to bring him back, figuring out how far to let the addict go if it gets confrontational, and planning where and when the family will regroup afterward. This way, no matter what happens, you have a plan. If you find yourself without one, pull back and regroup, and…plan some more!


Guest Author