Staging an intervention for a loved one.

How to Do an Intervention for an Addict


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Staging an intervention for a loved one.

Figuring out the best way to guide an addicted friend or family member towards getting help can be difficult. It is especially so if the addict is reluctant to even recognize the severity of their problem. While the work has to be done by the person suffering from addiction, it’s natural for anyone who cares for him or her to want to do what they can to assist. In such cases, staging a proper intervention could be an effective way to steer the loved one towards recovery.

What Happens During an Addiction Intervention?

An intervention is a gathering of family and close friends who meet to persuade a loved one to get treatment. Various circumstances can result in family and friends staging an intervention for a loved one, including alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, destructive behaviors or violence.

Staging a proper intervention can be an effective way to steer a loved one towards recovery.

Successful drug and alcohol abuse interventions are always founded on love, consideration, and respect. It is a chance to show an addict love and concern, not judgment. It can also be therapeutic for family and friends, who can respectively share their own worries amid a supportive group of people.

How to Have an Intervention

Keep the following tips in mind when you feel it is necessary to help a loved one get the treatment they need.

1. Meet with family members and friends without the addict.

Usually, this number is between three to eight people, depending on family size. Agree that you'll maintain confidentiality. Discuss facts regarding the loved one and the harmful behaviors you've all observed.

2. Be as honest as possible.

Each person can come up with a brief statement that they want to share during the intervention. It’s best to share their true feelings toward the addict. They can write it down on paper and read it or say it right from their heart. Decide what order you’d like each person to share.

3. Anticipate the addict’s reactions.

Discuss how you expect or believe the person will react and make sure you anticipate how you'll address the denials, tears, and anger.

4. Meet with a therapist or a professional counselor before the intervention.

Rehearse what each one of you will say and also discuss the possible reactions with your therapist. They’ve probably been through some sort of intervention, so they can offer solid advice. The counselor or therapist might ask you to jot down behaviors that won’t be tolerated any longer and the consequences which will be faced if any of the behaviors continue.

5. Discuss available treatment options.

Accept that this situation merits an intervention. Choose a good facility in advance, contact the facility and discuss your plan.

6. Choose a secure and private location for the intervention.

Invite the therapist as well to mediate the discussion, and decide where each one of you will sit. Ensure there won’t be any interruptions, including cell phones. You should all get there well before the person arrives and do your best to make the intervention at a time of the day when you believe the person will be sober and free from drugs.

7. Treat the addict with respect, but stand your ground.

When the individual arrives, speak softly and lovingly. Ask the individual to confirm that there's a problem. If he or she denies the issue, ask each one in the group for some evidence of the issue. Remember to avoid any judgment or accusations.

8. Inform the addict that a plan is in place.

Offer immediate treatment and explain the details regarding the rehabilitation facility you've arranged. It isn't acceptable for the addict to say they will seek the treatment “later.” The intervention is an ultimatum and you've prepared well in advance on what to say to each objection. It will be difficult, but your counselor will be helping the addict deal with denial or anger.

9. Close the intervention on a positive note.

For example, you can say, "We just really care about you so much." In many cases, the addict will agree to go to rehab. If not, that does not mean you have failed. That effort might start a positive chain of events which ultimately leads to a change for the better. In addition, you have made it clear that you'll no longer enable the addict’s behavior.

Intervention Help

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of addiction interventions aren’t always guaranteed, but many have benefited from them. Perhaps the addict hasn’t hit rock-bottom, or they’re just isn’t willing to commit to sobriety yet. As we hope for our addicted loved one to find their way someday, remember that you can only do so much to help them see the light. And when that time comes, they’ll know which group of people to turn to for support.

If you’re seeking help from an addiction intervention professional, browse our directory of interventionists or call us at 800-772-8219 to inquire about addiction treatment.

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