Emotion is an unpredictable factor in any intervention. When you hold an intervention to encourage someone you care about to stop drinking, using or practicing a dangerous and compulsive behavior, the situation is almost always volatile. You can’t be certain how the person will react — he may burst into tears, attempt to laugh it off, beg for another chance or get extremely hostile. If you know that you’re dealing with someone who’s quick to anger, you can plan your intervention to minimize the risk of harm to this person and to others.
Every intervention is different, and you can’t predict with 100 percent certainty how the confrontation will turn out. Use the following suggestions as general guidelines when you’re dealing with someone who has an explosive temper.
- Enlist the help of a trained intervention specialist. A counselor who specializes in interventions, sometimes known as an “interventionist,” can help you plan your meeting in such a way that you minimize the possibility of a dangerous outburst. Having an objective professional present at an intervention may also make the person involved less likely to act violent or aggressive.
- Avoid staging the intervention when your loved one is drunk or high. The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reports that the intensity of anger is higher in people with substance use disorders. If your friend or relative is intoxicated at the time of the meeting, he or she may be more likely to become violent when confronted. Even if he doesn’t respond with anger, your intervention is likely to be more successful when your loved one is able to understand what’s going on.
- Rehearse the intervention and be prepared for an angry response. The Mayo Clinic advises against holding an intervention spontaneously; these meetings should be planned and rehearsed. Plan what you’ll say and how you’ll react if your loved one becomes violent or angry. Ask your intervention counselor for advice on how to redirect your loved one back to the subject of addiction treatment if he or she has an explosive episode.
- Hold the intervention in a safe, neutral location. To ensure safety, the intervention should be held in a place where you could easily get help if necessary. A neutral setting, like a counselor’s office, a hotel room or an acquaintance’s living room, may be preferable to your loved one’s home, a location that may be emotionally charged. Before the meeting, remove any objects that might cause harm if the identified person becomes physically violent during the meeting.
- Emphasize encouragement rather than confrontation. An intervention team doesn’t necessarily have to be demanding or confrontational, and the intervention doesn’t have to come as a complete surprise. The ARISE intervention model uses an invitational approach that encourages the identified person to enter rehab as a healing process. A person who needs help with anger management may respond more positively to an invitation to get sober than to a list of complaints and demands.
- Look for a treatment program that offers anger management counseling. As part of the intervention, you and your team should have a recovery plan to propose to your loved one. Choose a rehab center that provides specialized counseling, group therapy and behavioral modification strategies for anger management. The program should also provide a full medical and psychological evaluation to determine the cause of your loved one’s anger and identify the best course of treatment.
For advice on staging an intervention or information on our treatment programs, call us here at Axis today.