How to Stage a Successful Intervention

Watching a beloved family member or friend go through addiction is one of the most painful experiences anyone can have in this lifetime. If you have exhausted your resources, and your friend or family member is declining in health, or their addiction is getting worse, a staged intervention may provide the only chance to save your loved one’s life. During an intervention, friends and family members gather discreetly and work with a licensed therapist or addiction specialist to formulate a plan that will encourage the addicted person to seek treatment.

Do Your Research

During the intervention process, you will learn about an addict’s triggers, how to cope with an addicted person and the type of support you should be providing to your family member or friend. It is important to remember that a person with an addiction is not a bad person with bad morals or beliefs. He or she has probably experienced some sort of trauma, and the only way to escape or numb the pain is to overuse alcohol, pills or drugs as a coping mechanism.

Related: Mayo Clinic | Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction

Know How to React

A staged intervention can put the addict in a defensive mindset. You should make it clear that you want to help and support your loved one and offer encouraging and loving words during the guided intervention. Many family members and friends are encouraged to write letters to their loved one to read on the day of the intervention. These letters depict memories, heartfelt stories, and sentiments that often strike a chord with the addict and lead to the acceptance of the offered treatment.

Related: The Recovery Village | Intervention: What is It, How Do You Stage One, and Does It Work?

Establish Boundaries

While it is important to express your love and encouragement to the person afflicted with the addiction, it is also equally important to establish boundaries and set limitations on your future interactions if they refuse treatment. Many people inadvertently enable an addicted person. They may provide money, a home or car, a phone, food or other tangible goods that inadvertently create a codependent relationship. The licensed therapist or drug addiction counselor will help you set limits and teach you ways to stick to your guns if they reject treatment.

Related: | Setting and Keeping Boundaries

Remember Why You’re Doing This

Addiction and mental illness negatively impact everyone in the addict’s life. Parents who struggle with addiction can permanently change a child’s life and alter the way they see and experience the world. In a way, addiction is a very unfair disease. The addict gets to numb their pain with drugs, alcohol or pills. Parents, friends, grandparents, children, co-workers, and partners, however, have to endure the pain associated with loving someone who is addicted to toxic or illegal substances; they do not get to escape the pain of seeing their loved one slowly killing himself or herself.


Related: | Effects on the Family
A staged intervention affords everyone the opportunity to express their concerns, showcase their love and devise a reliable and safe plan to get the help that their loved one desperately needs. An intervention should take place in a quiet and discreet location, and family members and friends should refrain from informing the addict that an intervention is being planned. A hardcore addict may create an escape plan if he or she is informed about the intervention ahead of time. Hopefully, after treatment, this person will still have a strong supprt system that can help them integrate themselves to everyday life. A strong support system is crucial, as for example, having others teach them about unique hobbies and other ways to use their free time could keep them out of rehab again.