An intervention can motivate a person to seek help for alcohol or drug misuse, as well as other addictive behaviors. The idea is to discover when the right time to hold one and how to make it successful. In this article, let’s talk about what intervention is and how you can stage it the right way to bring significant change.

Why An Intervention?

Those who suffer from addiction are usually in denial about their current situation, not to mention the fact that they would never see treatment as an option. What is worse, they are unable to recognize the negative effects of their behaviors not only on themselves and on the people around them.

An intervention – be it alcohol intervention or drug intervention – gives your loved one the much-needed structured opportunity to acquire changes before it is too late. It can be a difficult process for him/her, but if presented correctly, it can motivate him/her to accept and even seek help.


An intervention can be done by family and friends, if they know exactly how to plan and execute the intervention. Often times, it is a process that is best to be planned involving the consultation of an expert. This can be a doctor, licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or an intervention professional known as “interventionist.” The process is  performed with individuals who care about the person struggling with addiction including, spouses, siblings, parents and friends.

Here is how intervention can help:

  • Provides family and friends the opportunity to offer examples of how alcohol or drug abuse can/has been destructive.

  • provides loved ones to reassure the individual struggling that they are loved and supported.

  • Opens the narrative that explains how the addiction has had a detrimental impact on the addicted individual and the people around him/her.

  • Helps family members and/or the support group obtain a course of treatment which healthcare professionals think will work best.

  • Gives the addicted individual an overview of the consequences of his/her actions if he/she chooses to steer clear from a treatment course.

Who Should Be On the intervention Team

The intervention team often includes four to six people who are all important in the life of your loved one. These are individuals whom he/she cares, likes, respects, and loves. A professional interventionist for alcohol and drug abuse can help you pinpoint the appropriate members of your intervention team.

The following are people who should be involved in an intervention for drug abuse or alcohol abuse:

Friends and Family – If the addicted individual is married or has a partner, the spouse should be involved, parents, siblings, person of faith, close friends and other family members. 

Addicted Individual – When confronted, it is possible for him/her to refuse the process and leave the gathering. If this does occur, you can plan the intervention at a later date when the individual may be open to the idea.  Remember not to give up.

Note: If you think it is ideal for someone to be involved but you are worried about the possibility of him/her becoming a problem during the process, it might be best to ask this person to write a letter that you or another member of the team can read at the intervention.

Facing an alcohol or drug addiction is a lonely and scary proposition. But by seeing just how many friends and family members there are to support, the addict can get a boost of encouragement necessary in jumpstarting his/her turnaround.

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Don't include anyone who:

  • Your loved one dislikes.

  • Might sabotage the intervention

  • Has mental health issues or substance abuse problems that are not being managed.

  • May not be able to control what he or she says. 

  • Everyone involved in the intervention will write a letter, the letter will be read and approved by the group and interventionist prior to the intervention. You can not say anything else during the intervention in order to go as smoothly as possible.

  • If there is a person who you think is important to have at the intervention, but you're worried that they may create an issue, have them write a letter to be read by someone else during the intervention. 

How do you find a treatment program to offer?

One option is to seek help from your insurance company. They should have a list of "Evidence-based treatment" facilities. You can attend meetings in your area like PAL(parents with addicted loved ones). People at PAL will more than likely have experiences, both good and bad, with facilities.  It is always helpful to get advice from people going through the same experience that you are.  Also, it is a great support system to help you realize that you are not alone.  

Treatment options can vary to some degree – and they can depend on the intensity and scope of the addiction. For instance, an option you can take is a brief early intervention. You may also move forward with either a day treatment or outpatient treatment program. If the addiction problem proves to be severe, admittance to a well-structured program is required.  


A detox is not enough, 30 days in a rehab facility is not enough, a sober living environment after rehab is recommended. Remember, it will take a lot of time in structured recovery, hard work, and practice for the addicted individual to learn how to live as a person in recovery.  

Treatment can cover a variety of areas, ranging from education and counseling to vocational courses and life skills training. For example, a treatment may include a specific set of addiction approaches specifically designed for each individual.


Initiating arrangements and extensive research ahead of the intervention is essential, while keeping these points in mind:

  • Check if your insurance plan will be covering the treatment you want to move forward with.

  • Contact a trusted addiction professional, mental health expert, or doctor and talk about the best treatment option for your loved one. Make sure to ask recommendations about the different programs that have Evidence-based-Treatment.

  • You can also check with your local clinics or go to support groups.

  • Beware of on-line companies who may be "head hunters" for some facilities.  Unfortunately, these people get paid to bring individuals to certain facilities and will act like they care about what is best for your loved one, when in fact they are only "in it" for the money.

  • Understand the different steps involved in admission, so you can set expectations at an early stage. This can include, but not limited to, insurance pre-certification, consultation, and evaluation appointment. Also, find out if there is a waiting list or not. Ask your Insurance Company for a list of facilities that have evidence based treatment!

  • Stay away from treatment centers that tend to promise quick fixes. Remember that your loved one will not undergo an overnight process – it takes time and dedication for the treatment to be successful.

  • Make sure to avoid programs that seem to implement uncommon methods or treatments. 

  • If the program or treatment for your loved one requires travel, you should make arrangements ahead of time. You might want to consider pre-packing a suitcase, have gas in the car, if you have to travel far have snacks and drinks in the car so that you do not have to stop.  Do not let the person out of your sight after they agree to go.  Follow them to the bathroom, do not let them "have a minute" to themselves, etc.  These example will only give them opportunity to possibly use drugs or get drugs from their room before they go.  When an individual agrees to go, it is essential that you have a well structured plan in place.This plan will allow you to go at that moment your loved one says ok.

How can you help ensure a successful intervention?

Addiction involves a lot of intense emotions for everyone involved. In fact, the process of arranging an intervention and making it possible can result in anger, conflict, and resentment toward the addicted individual, as well as confusion, guilt, worry and anxiety while planning the intervention. All of the same emotions can be felt by the addicted individual because you planned all of this "behind their back." They feel like a target and it will probably make them feel more guilt and shame.  None of it is easy.

In order to run a successful intervention, keep these factors in mind:

  • Holding an intervention on the spur of the moment will not help. The process can require weeks to plan, especially if you want to make it successful. 

  • It is imperative that you plan the time of the intervention. In other words, choose a time when your loved one is least likely to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Before you proceed with an intervention, be sure you understand what your loved one’s addiction is. DO NOT accuse the individual of anything unless you are 100% sure of what you are saying.

  • A single person in the team should be appointed as a liaison. When you have a person who can act as the point of contact of all members of the intervention team, communication and success can be achieved. If you chose not to hire an interventionist, do your research for successful interventions.

  • Remember to always share information relating to your loved one’s addiction. This is going to be helpful at the intervention as everyone will be on the same page. You can either meet in person or hold conference calls in order to share updates. Do this and you will be a unified team.

  • Stage a rehearsal intervention so you can determine who among the members can speak at a certain time, as well as plan sitting arrangements and other important details. Your goal is to prevent stumbling from happening during the intervention.

If your loved one refuses help

As mentioned above, interventions can be unsuccessful. Your loved one may refuse the treatment course or program. He/she may even burst out in anger and, worse, insist that help is not an option. In addition, he/she can become resentful towards you and other members of the team.

Your best move here is to always prepare yourself for the possibility of being refused. And while the situation can be worse, it is important that you remain positive and hopeful for a change. If he/she refuses help, then do not force it; instead, try to find a different approach and follow through with changes you or other members presented.


At the end of the day, you do not have full control of your loved one’s actions and decisions. You should not also blame yourself if the situation goes south. However, by being positive and hopeful, you can eventually motivate your loved one to have a better grasp of his/her current situation. 


If the intervention does not work, remember to avoid further enabling the destructive cycle of your loved one’s addiction. 

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