An intervention is an attempt by one or many people to help a person with a substance abuse disorder. This is a successful strategy that can encourage someone with an addiction issue to seek professional help.

But for an intervention to succeed, several stages should be followed. This is why getting educated about the stages of intervention and how they go will help you support a loved one struggling with substance abuse.

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a planned event, organized by one or several people, usually with the help of a medical professional, specifically a professional interventionist. These are people close to a person who struggles with substance or alcohol abuse and can see how the addiction is impacting their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Interventions are intense because people confront people with abuse disorders. People with addiction problems usually tend to escape from their problems and facing them with their actions isn’t easy.

During an intervention, other people open up about how the addiction has affected them. Family, friends, and even co-workers can tell someone they love that their addiction is ruining their relationships.

After speaking their minds, the person with an abuse issue is usually presented with a treatment plan. This is why a therapist or medical professional should be present. The intervention group will set boundaries and explain to the person with an abuse disorder that not complying with the treatment options has serious consequences.

What is Not an Intervention?

Many people think that talking with someone who abuses drugs or alcohol is an intervention. They might confuse an intervention with other emotional interactions, but these aren’t considered helpful interventions.

  • A motivational speech isn’t an intervention. It might encourage the person battling an addiction to seek help, but it’s not how an intervention works.
  • Giving the person who abuses drugs or alcohol an ultimatum isn’t an intervention.
  • Controlling substance use or the person using alcohol and drugs isn’t an intervention.
  • Setting up an ambush to attack someone isn’t an intervention.
  • Begging the person to return to school, work, or home isn’t an intervention.
  • Pushing the person to go to a treatment facility without close family or friends understanding how the process goes or what to expect isn’t an intervention.
  • Getting someone who previously suffered from the same problem to talk to your loved one about the consequences of addiction isn’t an intervention.
  • Someone who has sought help in the past to overcome their addiction receiving a 12-step call doesn’t qualify as an intervention.

What are the Stages of Intervention?

You might have seen a staged intervention on TV, but this is not how things go in real life. An intervention is a life-changing event that affects the life of a person with a substance abuse issue and everyone around them.

This is why staging an intervention shouldn’t be taken lightly. In some cases, you can include the person with addiction issues in the intervention if they’re aware of their problems and willing to seek help.

Yet, in most cases, people with serious addiction and substance abuse issues will be resistant, so it’s best to surprise them with an intervention.

Here are the right steps to follow to stage a successful intervention process.

  1. Contact an addiction intervention specialist, social worker, or doctor and discuss your intention to stage an intervention meeting. Explain the situation and listen to their opinion regarding approaching the person with addiction issues.
  2. Gather information about substance abuse, its symptoms, consequences, and addiction recovery process. You should also gather information about rehabilitation programs and detox options available.
  3. Contact your family, friends, and people close to the person battling addiction. Their support is crucial for the success of the intervention and their participation can lead to better results.
  4. Discuss forming the intervention team with the specialist, even if they aren’t involved. The team is usually made of close friends, family members, and coworkers who care about the well-being of the person who struggles with addiction.
  5. Select a location, day, time of day, and guest list to attend the intervention. Make sure that you pick a time and place that suits everyone.
  6. Check if the person attending the intervention wants to participate in family sessions or group therapy to be part of the solution.
  7. Write personal statements where each person talks about how the person’s addiction affects them and their relationships. These heart-felt statements usually help the person with an addiction understand how their actions impact others.
  8. People staging the intervention should consider how they’ll help, like offering money or giving the person rides to a treatment center. People with addiction often feel lonely and offering support encourages them to seek professional help to overcome substance abuse.
  9. Rehearse the intervention to design the best approach to tackle the problem without spending too much time blaming the person with addiction or indulging in self-pity. People often get too emotional during an intervention, so it’s important to decide what to say and when to say it.

What Should Happen During an Intervention?

You might plan a successful drug intervention but things don’t go as planned. The person with an addiction might not accept being confronted with their actions.

With their resistance, things can become tense, so here are some things you should consider while staging an intervention.

  • Manage your expectations as the intervention might not be smooth. In most cases, the person with addiction issues will refuse to admit that they have an addiction issue.
  • Postpone the intervention if the person you’re trying to help is intoxicated until they’re sober.
  • They might refuse help or start attacking people trying to help them. So, every team member should stay cool and stick to their plan.
  • Avoid using aggressive language and labeling the person with an abuse issue as an addict or alcoholic.
  • Keep your personal feelings in check even if you get too anxious, upset, or emotional.
  • Have a Plan B where you set boundaries and explain what will happen if the person doesn’t choose to have their addiction issues treated. Setting boundaries involves quitting all enabling and codependency behavioral patterns that indirectly encourage the patient to continue abusing substances or alcohol.
  • After the intervention is over, the people involved should stick to the agreed plan. This is true whether the person accepts help or not.
  • Expect that the person might suffer from stress or anger issues that could affect their rehabilitation journey. Consistency is crucial as the person will realize that they’ll either have to seek professional help or face the consequences of their addiction alone.

Why Do You Need an Intervention?

The main purpose of an intervention is to educate the person with an abusive issue about the consequences of their behavior. Family members and friends change from being enablers to helping the person they love with their abuse issues.

You’ll need an intervention if you’re dealing with a person who drinks excessively or has a drug abuse problem but they’re in denial. Even if they don’t deny their issue, you’ll need an intervention plan if they haven’t decided to seek help to deal with their mental health issues, drug abuse disorder, or drinking.

An intervention can help you understand what led to the problem in the first place. People abuse alcohol and drugs after dealing with trauma or personal issues. You, as someone close to the person with an abuse disorder, might not realize it at first and you’ll notice that the condition is getting worse.

Staging an intervention stops you from becoming an enabler. As a partner, sibling, friend, or colleague, you might think you’re helping the person who battles addiction while enabling their abuse.

Finally, the main purpose of intervention is to encourage the person with abuse issues to seek professional help. Confronting the person who abuses drugs or has an alcohol problem with their actions and their consequences shows them how the addiction is impacting everyone. This can be an eye-opening moment after which the person will agree to see an addiction intervention professional.

What are the Benefits of Intervention?

Staging an intervention helps the person who abuses drugs and alcohol and everyone around them. Here are some benefits of planning one.

  • Redefining roles and boundaries between the person with an addiction issue and the people around them.
  • Teaching family and friends how to communicate efficiently with the person who suffers from addiction and vice versa.
  • Addressing situations that caused and increased abuse.
  • Identifying codependency and enabling behaviors that worsen addiction.
  • Guiding families to overcome the consequences of addiction even if the person with addiction doesn’t seek therapy.

Wrap Up

An intervention is a way to confront someone with substance or alcohol abuse with their disorder. It can help the person see how their actions impact everyone around them and this can encourage them to stick to an addiction treatment plan.

Yet, to stage a successful intervention, you must have a clear plan of how it should go and what to avoid.

Interventions can be too emotional and feelings of resentment and anger might arise, so it’s essential to have a clear plan with the help of a professional to manage the intervention session.


Published on: 2024-05-07
Updated on: 2024-05-07