Addiction Intervention

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addiction-interventionWhat is an Addiction Intervention?

An addiction intervention is a planned attempt by a group of people to encourage a loved one to seek professional treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Ideally, an intervention should be a non-confrontational meeting that has been formally planned in advance. The meeting is between the members of the group and the person with a problem, and is held with the intention of helping the addict understand the need to seek professional treatment.

What are the Signs that an Intervention is Needed?

Some of the key signs to look for include:

  • Declining personal hygiene and grooming: A person sinking into the grip of addiction will allow their personal appearance to deteriorate. As the grip of the substance of addiction takes hold, the addict’s mind is focused only on getting more of the drug each day, allowing other needs to deteriorate.
  • Deceptive behavior: Someone in denial about the extent of their problem will go to great lengths to disguise their behavior. Some may drink before arriving at parties to avoid others seeing how much they really drink. Others may hide prescription medications or act deceptively about what type of drug they’re really taking.
  • Unpredictable moods: Many addicts will experience unpredictable mood swings and behaviors that are more noticeable when already under the influence of the substance, or when they’re recovering after use. They may also become irrational or highly defensive at the slightest mention of their substance abuse problem.
  • Financial problems: Funding a drug or alcohol addiction isn’t cheap. A person with a drug problem may experience more financial issues than can’t reasonably be explained.
  • Tolerance: The nature of physical dependency can mean the person requires larger doses of a drug or larger quantities of alcohol to achieve the same effects that used to require much less. As tolerance develops, you may notice the person buying extra alcohol or more drugs just to feel normal.

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How to Conduct an Intervention

Most people assume an addiction intervention simply involves sitting down with the addict and talking about addiction. In reality, it’s vitally important to plan every step of the meeting carefully before anything is said to the addict.

Steps necessary for a well-planned addiction intervention include: 

planning-an-intervention1. Formal planning: A concerned family member or friend proposes a meeting with the addicted person and decides to implement a plan to approach the situation properly.

2. Choose the intervention team: It’s important to choose the people who will participate in the intervention carefully. Loved ones, family members, concerned friends, or even colleagues may become involved. You may also want to include a professional interventionist to conduct the meeting. Don’t be tempted to include people who might become disruptive or emotionally defensive during the meeting.

Anyone who has a significant relationship with the addict should be part of the intervention process.

Some examples of people who can help include:

  • Adult family members and close friends: Choosing people who are close to the addict is important when planning an intervention. These people include spouses, siblings, parents and close friends. Each of these people will provide a unique perspective, can contribute valuable information and voice their heartfelt concern for their loved one.
  • Children of the addict: Having the older children of an addict participate in the intervention can be very effective. Since addicts often abandon their family responsibilities in favor of using drugs and alcohol, having the affected children confront the addict may serve as a strong wake-up call. Allowing younger children to participate does not guarantee a successful intervention because they may not be old enough to handle the harsh reality or confrontations that may arise as a result of the meeting, making the experience all the more traumatic for them.
  • The person’s therapist: Although therapists cannot lawfully discuss their findings or private interactions with the addict, they can agree to participate in an intervention. Having a therapist or other medical expert the addict trusts in the room can lend credibility to the intervention.
  • Religious figure: If the addict is a religious person, the support and presence of a religious authority figure that they trust can encourage them to accept help.
  • An addiction interventionist: Perhaps one of the best ways to improve the chances of a   successful intervention is to recruit the help of a professional interventionist. These specialists are trained to inform and instruct family member on how to conduct an intervention in the safest and most effective way possible. At Get Treatment, we can help you find the right professional who can assist and educate your family on how to best approach your loved one.

3. Gather information: The people within the intervention team should gather as much information about how the person’s addiction has affected their lives. Most addicts don’t recognize how their behaviors affect other people, so it can be eye-opening to hear how others are impacted.

4. Decide on consequences: Throughout the intervention, the addicted person will be given the option to seek treatment or face specific consequences. Prior to the meeting, each person within the group should decide on the consequences. For example, a parent who has been enabling the addiction with financial assistance can stop paying money to the person until treatment is sought. A mother may decide to stop the addict from seeing his children until treatment is completed.

5. Choose a rehab treatment facility: In order to offer professional help to the addicted person, you will need to have some treatment options ready to go. Do some research and choose the appropriate type of addiction treatment facility to suit the person’s individual needs.

6. Make clear notes: It’s important that everyone participating in the meeting makes clear notes about what they’ll say and then sticks to those notes. It’s important not to allow emotional outbursts or judgmental comments to interfere with the planned process.

7. Rehearse the meeting: Take some time to get together with the people in the intervention team to rehearse exactly what everyone will say through the meeting. Try to anticipate what the person’s might say and how they might react, and then prepare some ways to handle those reactions without straying from the planned notes.

8. Hold the intervention: When everything is in place, it’s time to hold the intervention.

Seeking Help

There are always unforeseen things that can go wrong with any intervention. The confronted person may feel ashamed or embarrassed and sink further into addictive behaviors. Others may become violent or aggressive, especially if feeling as though loved ones are conducting an ambush.

The best way to reduce the risk of things going wrong during an intervention is to seek the advice of a professional addiction interventionist. The interventionist can direct the meeting and keep everyone on track in a positive manner.

Once you and your family have made all arrangements for the intervention, it’s important to make sure your loved one has a safe and certified rehab to attend. At Get Treatment, we understand the importance of making sure your loved one is cared for and given the best quality treatment available. We have treatment centers across the country that can develop a customized plan of treatment, and provide the support needed for lasting recovery.

Help your loved one find the peace and joy they are missing from their life. Help them break free from addiction once and for all.


  1. Medscape Log In. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

Last updated on April 6th, 2017 at 09:16 pm

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