How To Do An Intervention For An Addict

How To Do An Intervention For An Addict

Do you have a family or friend member suffering from addiction? Then you should try staging an intervention. This focused approach allows you to join forces with other concerned individuals – so you could help the ‘addict’ commit to his/her full recovery.

Do an Intervention for an Addict

What is an Intervention, Anyway?

An intervention is a planned process. It is usually hosted by the addict’s family and/or friends. It’s also done in coordination with a licensed counselor or interventionist.

During this activity, the concerned team members confront the addicted individual so that he/she would undergo treatment. An intervention usually includes the ‘hosts’ talking about the addict’s bad behavior, and how it affects his/her relationship with them.

An intervention comes with goals, steps, and guidelines. Should the addict refuse to undergo treatment, he/she will be met with certain ultimatums.

Who Will Benefit from an Intervention?

Interventions are usually held for people suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction (prescription or illegal). However, it can apply to those with food or gambling addictions too.

How to Host an Intervention

Here are the steps that will help you host a beneficial intervention for your addicted family member or friend:

1. Plan It Out

As with any other activity, you need a good plan to make the intervention successful.

The process starts with a planning group formed by the addict’s family and/or friends. As mentioned, the process should be overseen by a psychologist, addiction professional, or mental health counselor.  After all, an intervention has the potential to make the addict feel betrayed, resentful, and angry.

Do an Intervention for an Addict

In some instances, a professional may even need to attend the intervention together with the concerned members. This is especially the case if the individual has a mental illness, suicidal behavior, or a history of serious violence or intake of mood-altering substances.

2. Gather Data

The planning group should seek information about the addict’s circumstances. This will help the members find the best treatment possible for the existing condition. That way, the individual can head straight to the treatment that’s waiting for him/her after the intervention.

Planning group should seek information about the addict’s circumstances

Here are the options available for addicts, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

A. Long-term Residential Treatment

This involves the provision of 24-hour care in non-hospital facilities. It often follows the therapeutic community model, where the person stays in for treatment for 6 to 12 months.

This treatment is all about making the person accountable and responsible for his/her actions. Add to that, he/she is taught to live a socially-productive life once he/she exits the facility. As such, long-term residential treatments also include onsite support and employment training, among many other services.

B. Short-term Residential Treatment

This offers an intensive yet brief treatment. Originally made for alcoholics, this modified 12-step system benefits substance abusers as well.

This inpatient treatment includes a 3 to 6-week stay in a hospital facility. It is then followed by outpatient therapy and self-help group participation.

C. Outpatient Treatment

A major component of this treatment is group therapy. This is a cheaper alternative to the above-mentioned programs. However, this is best for addicts who have jobs and/or strong social support systems. In some cases, this may also help address the individual’s other underlying physical/mental health issues.

D. Individualized Drug Counseling

More than just curbing drug or alcohol use, this treatment also aims to improve family relations and employment prospects, among many other things. It emphasizes short-term behavioral goals, so the individual can develop the right strategies that promote abstinence.

Here, the counselor advises participation in 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. At the same time, he/she will make the necessary referrals (medical, psychiatric, or employment) as needed by the patient.

E. Group Counseling

This treatment includes peer discussions that can help promote drug-free living. This should be done with individualized drug counseling for best results.

3. Create an intervention team.

The planning group then recruits family or friends who will participate in the intervention. It’s enough to have four to six members who the addict loves, adores, or respects.  

Intervention team

While a lot of people would volunteer to be a part of the intervention, you must exclude the following from the team:

  • A person the addict dislikes
  • Someone unable to limit the things he/she is supposed to say
  • Someone who can potentially sabotage the intervention
  • An individual with a substance abuse problem or mental health issue

After completing the team, the members should set a date and location for the intervention.

It’s important to ‘practice’ the intervention. This will help the speakers convey a consistent message and a well-thought-out plan. Additionally, it can help family members stick with the facts rather than go with strong emotional outbursts.

4. Map out the consequences

Even with a planned intervention, there is a high possibility that the individual would refuse treatment. As such, the intervention members must think of the consequences that may come with this. For example, the mother would ask her addicted child to move out should he/she refuse treatment.

5. Take down notes

Take down notes

It’s best if every member lists down instances that the person’s addiction caused distress. As you explain how his/her behavior has affected you, you must remember to convey a caring tone. A good opening line is “I was very hurt when you took drugs/drunk alcohol and…”

6. Hold the intervention

Invite the person in question to the intervention location without stating a reason. Here, the members express their feelings and concerns about the addicted individual. Afterward, the individual should be presented with a list of treatment options. Should he/she refuse, the members should present the consequence of doing so, i.e. the mother kicking her child out of her home.

7. Follow up

Addiction recovery is a long process full of relapse traps. As such, you should follow up with the person’s progress now and then. You need to help the individual keep up with the treatment plan.

Follow up with the person's progress now and then

This includes bringing him/her to the therapist, making sure he/she doesn’t have access to substances, and so on.


An intervention is a stressful, emotionally-charged event for both the addict and the team members. But when done right, it is highly successful. Through this, you can help your afflicted family member or friend seek the treatments he/she needs for a complete recovery.

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