Interventions for drugs and alcohol can be intense emotional experiences. That’s why it makes sense for those participating in an intervention to collect their feelings on paper.
Having your words ready when it’s time for you to speak will provide you with extra confidence as you address a loved one struggling with addiction. Gathering your thoughts and feelings in a letter will make it much easier to communicate everything that’s on your mind, even if the family member begins to react negatively during the intervention.
It’s important to note that there are many ways to write an intervention letter, but not all of these strategies are equally effective. A confrontational letter, for example, may ruin the mood and make it considerably more difficult to convince the addict that they need help.
On the other hand, a letter that cuts the addict too much slack will not be effective in encouraging them to seek treatment. The following tips will help you write an effective drug intervention letter for your loved one.
Paragraph 1: Affirming the Addict
During an intervention, the addict will most likely be on the defensive. Disarm this resistance by affirming the addict in the opening lines of the letter. This will result in a more receptive audience.
Be sure your opening paragraph reminds the addict how much he or she is loved. Reiterate the loved one’s positive qualities as well. This approach will help make the individual feel cared for and accepted.
Paragraph 2: Acknowledging the Addiction
The next part of your intervention letter must point the spotlight directly on the problem. Your loved one will likely deny that he or she has a substance abuse issue, and the best response is to calmly and coolly point out evidence to the contrary.
More often than not, addicts are in denial about the scope of their drug or alcohol problems. Building a case against their denial is the first step toward helping an addict understand that they are in need of serious medical help.
Paragraph 3: Identifying the Harms
Now it’s time to talk to the loved one about the direct consequences of their addiction. Damaged vehicles, missing funds and hurt feelings are just a few of the ways an addict can bring harm to their loved ones.
The important thing to remember when drafting this section is to keep the harms as personal as possible. The more your complaints are based in your own experience, the less wiggle room the addict has to deny them as true.
Paragraph 4: Listing the Consequences
This is the hard part. In order to encourage an addict to reconsider his or her lifestyle, the loved ones around the individual must refuse to continue enabling these behaviors. This section details how you will end your enabling of the addict and how your relationship will change if he or she continues to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Remember not to present these consequences as a list of ultimatums, as this approach will only create distance between you and your loved one. Instead, identify how your loved one’s self-destructive behavior has forced you to assume new behaviors of your own.
Paragraph 5: Encouraging the Addict
End your letter on a positive note. After all, this may be the third of fourth intervention letter your loved one has heard in a row. Remind them of how much you care for them and how much they are loved by friends and family.
Instead of harping on what the addict will not be able to do during treatment, it helps to focus on how the addict’s life will improve during and after treatment. An optimistic approach can make a big difference in the life of a loved one who is dealing with substance abuse.
I just wanted to say how proud of you I am as your brother. I’ve never known someone with the same heart for others that you have. Growing up, you always made sure that I and the rest of our younger siblings were taken care of before you worried about yourself. I’ll never forget that and I’ll always love you for it.
Recently, I feel as though I don’t know you as well as I used to. It’s hard to have a conversation with you because you rarely answer the phone sober. We haven’t been able to play pickup basketball because you start drinking as soon as you get off of work. I’ve reached out to the rest of the family and they tell me that they’ve been having the same troubles getting ahold of you.
I feel like I’m losing my brother, and that breaks my heart. I wanted you to be the best man at my wedding, but now my fiancée doesn’t feel comfortable with you in the wedding party after you slurred through your speech at the rehearsal. I wanted you to be the godfather to my newborn child, but you were out at the bar during the naming ceremony. I want us to be close like we used to be, but it’s hard to see how we can shrink the distance when you are almost always inebriated.
It is your choice if you decide to continue to drink and party like you’ve been doing. I will respect what you want for your life. However, I refuse to help you along a path that I 100% believe is going to take you away from us. If you choose not to enter treatment, then I will no longer be lending you money or my car. If you choose not to enter treatment, I will not be allowing you to spend time with your nephew. I’m afraid that if you don’t find a way to manage your drinking, I’ll lose my brother for good.
Oliver, I will always love you. You’re a smart, ambitious man who made an amazing older brother when we were growing up. That’s why it hurts me so much to see you like this. I want us to keep growing together, as brothers and as men. Please get the help you need to get your drinking under control.
Setting Up the Intervention
At Family First Intervention, we are dedicated to helping families guide their loved ones toward a healthier, happier lifestyle. Our experienced, professional interventionists can help families work through the emotional roadblocks that limit communication. Our specialists also teach family members how to stop enabling their addicted loved one.
Working with an expert and taking a proactive approach to staging an intervention will ensure that your loved one gets the help he or she needs before it’s too late.
Be Sure to Understand the Right and Wrong Ways to Stage an Intervention