Intervention for Addiction – What You Need to Know

Watching someone you love battle a drug or alcohol addiction can be excruciating. When your pleas for them to get help are ignored or they deny there is a problem, your family may decide it’s time for an intervention for addiction. You plan, you get everyone there and your goal is for your loved one to willingly enter a treatment program. But it doesn’t go as planned. So, what’s next? What do you do when an intervention doesn’t work?

It’s challenging to help a loved one struggling with any type of addiction. Sometimes a direct, heart-to-heart conversation can start the road to recovery. But when it comes to addiction, the person with the problem often struggles to see it and acknowledge it. A more focused approach is often needed. You may need to join forces with others and take action through a formal intervention for addiction. If you’re considering planning an intervention for your loved one’s addiction, here’s what you should know.

Intervention for Addiction

What is an Intervention for Addiction? 


An intervention for addiction is a formal or informal meeting of friends, family, and/or professionals in hopes of inspiring behavior change. In cases of drug addiction, loved ones will meet with the individual, with or without professional assistance.

They will discuss the reality of the situation and how the addictive behavior is affecting their lives, and encourage the person to seek help for their addiction. An intervention is a combination of education and support with the goal of providing the addict with a structured opportunity to create positive change.

Examples of addictions that may warrant an intervention include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Prescription drug abuse
  • Street drug abuse
  • Compulsive eating
  • Compulsive gambling

People who struggle with addiction are often in denial about their situation and unwilling to seek treatment. They may not recognize the negative effects their behavior has on themselves and others.

An intervention presents your loved one with a structured opportunity to make changes before things get even worse, and it can motivate him or her to seek or accept help.

Interventionist? Maybe that’s You! 

The interventionist is the individual who helps identify the appropriate people in the life of a person who is experiencing substance use, mental or behavioral health problems that will become an influential part of a recovery team. The team will enable their person and family to accept treatment and recovery. The interventionist supports, educates, provides guidance, direction and training, as well as the facilitation of the intervention and aftercare. An interventionist is a helpful tool for an individual, family members, colleague or friend who is resistant to addressing his or her problem. 

Signs it’s Time for an Intervention for Addiction

An intervention is when a group of friends and family of a person with a drug or alcohol abuse problem confronts the addicted individual to try to convince them to enter addiction treatment. 

Interventions occur in a non-confrontational setting, where friends and family members express their feelings about how the person’s addictive behavior is affecting them and everyone around them negatively. 

But how do you know when a loved one or even you might need an intervention?

Your Loved One Is Denying a Problem That’s Evident to You

One of the most important indications that your loved one needs an intervention is a denial that there’s a problem. Often, their substance use is impacting their health, relationships, and work. You can see it. You’ve talked to them about it. Yet, they continue to say they are in control and “just fine.” Many people with addiction believe they have control over it. Yet, most do not. Some never recognize the negative effects their actions have on those around them.

Significant Increase in Drug or Alcohol Tolerance

If you or a loved one needs increasingly higher amounts of drugs or alcohol to get high or drunk, it may be a sign that there is a need for an intervention for addiction. This might not always be obvious; it could be a matter of someone taking prescription painkillers more often than they used to or drinking a few more beers each day than they did before. 

It’s important to take note of any changes in consumption behavior when you are trying to decide if an addiction intervention is in order.

  • When someone increases the quantity of drugs or alcohol they are consuming on a regular basis, it’s because the body is building up a tolerance. 
  • If the person seeks to continue getting drunk or high by consuming more, rather than taking a break or reducing consumption, it can be a sign of addiction. 
  • This can be especially dangerous because it could be leading up to an overdose.

Their Health Is Deteriorating

Overdoses are just one way drug abuse can impact a person’s health. It can also destroy their liver, impact their heart health, and create complications in brain health. When their health complications are rising, it’s time to finally force their hand.

For example, if your loved one is once again in the hospital after a health scare, confront them. Tell them they cannot come home unless they get help. Hold an intervention for addiction there if you need to do so.

It’s important to do this when the individual is facing mortality. When he or she is in the hospital, they may also be off the substance long enough to gain a clear head to see what’s happening. Additionally, withdrawal symptoms may be showing them just how addicted they are.

It’s Time for an Intervention for Addiction: Here’s What to Do

  1. Preparation and Rehearsal

First, the interventionist will talk with the family or friends to find out what is going on and how they can help. A team is formed by gathering family, friends, and sometimes a coworker or boss. The intervention specialist will offer support by educating all participants on addiction, mental health, and the intervention process. They can provide insights that the intervention party can use to convince their loved ones that they need help.  

  1. Choose An Intervention Meeting Place And Time

As a general rule, the space where the intervention is held should be familiar and non-threatening. This puts the addicted person more at ease during the intervention. It’s also important to try to schedule a meeting time when the loved one will be sober. Interventions often last between a half-hour and 90 minutes, but there is no mandatory time period.

  1. Be Ready for All Outcomes

Of course, the best outcome is that you present your case to the addict, give them the options, and then they peacefully agree to go to an inpatient drug rehab center. You have a car and maybe a plane ticket ready with someone to escort them. The thing to remember is that no one can control or predict how your loved one will react to the intervention. If they have hit a bottom, they are usually more open. 

  1. Set Boundaries

If your loved one refuses treatment, everyone involved in staging the intervention should commit to ending codependency and enabling behaviors. It’s important for your loved ones to understand that there will be consequences if they don’t seek help. For example, a spouse could tell her husband that he will have to move out of the home if he doesn’t go to rehab.

How Not to Do an Intervention

Interventions can be touchy and can easily get off track. If you want yours to be successful, you need to know what not to do at an intervention.

Some things to avoid when holding an intervention include:

  • Throwing the intervention together last minute
  • Having no set script or order of events
  • Letting everyone talk at once
  • Inviting everyone
  • Not holding a pre-intervention meeting with participants
  • Not offering a solution like addiction treatment options or consequences for not getting help
  • Having no one leading the meeting
  • Having the addict intoxicated or high during the meeting
  • Accepting your addicted loved one’s excuses

Little Creek Lodge is Here for You: Intervention for Addiction

Staging an intervention is a complicated process that requires careful planning. It can take several weeks to plan an effective intervention. Be prepared for your loved one’s objections. Have calm, rational responses prepared for each excuse your loved one may give to avoid treatment. Speak to your loved one with a voice of respect, concern, and love, not anger. When your loved one is ready to accept help, Little Creek Recovery is here for you. At Little Creek Lodge, you have the time to discover who you are while learning how to love yourself and be loved by others. You learn how to form intimate relationships and have fun while engaging in a sober lifestyle.

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