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  • David Marion

What Is An Intervention For Addiction?

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

In this article you'll discover:

  • What is an intervention for addiction?

  • How interventions work

  • What is an intervention's goal?

  • What are the benefits of an intervention?


Loving someone with an addiction is incredibly challenging. You’ve likely done everything in your power to try to help your loved one get better, perhaps even trying to intervene by confronting your loved one yourself. Unfortunately, it feels like their addiction has just completely taken over who they are.

One solution for your loved one is a professional intervention: a planned conversation where concerned loved ones honestly confront the addicted person about their behavior with the ultimate goal of getting them to go to treatment.

What is an intervention for addiction?

So what is an intervention for addiction? When a professional intervention is done, it includes family or friends who are concerned about their loved one’s alcohol use, drug use, or process addiction, such as gambling.

During an intervention, family, close friends, and a trained addiction interventionist come together to gently confront the loved one about their substance use or process addiction, with the hope of getting their loved one to go to treatment. Sometimes, a member of the loved one's clergy or faith can also attend an intervention if appropriate.

Many people turn to interventions when they feel helpless about their loved one’s well-being and know something needs to change.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How interventions work

You may be wondering what the process of an intervention looks like, or how interventions work.

The first step is often a consultation with a professional, which could be a therapist specializing in addiction, an addiction interventionist, or both. During the consultation, the professional will gain as much information as they can about your loved one’s current circumstances, as well as any relevant information about their past. During this time, any additional questions you have about the intervention process are also discussed. During this step, you’ll also go over who will be attending the intervention.

Next, everyone attending the intervention will write a letter to their loved one, to be shared on intervention day. Some professionals may also offer assistance during this step, helping you edit and refine the letter so that it’s powerful and effective without being stigmatizing, shaming, or having a negative impact.

The third step of the intervention process is the pre-intervention planning. During this step, the logistics of intervention day are worked out. This includes when and where everyone is meeting, and how your loved one is arriving to the intervention site. This also includes setting up an intake at a treatment facility, so your loved one can enter treatment immediately after the intervention if it is successful. During this step of the intervention process, the addiction interventionist or therapist will also provide you with an outline of what to expect on intervention day. They’ll help you develop consequences to present to your loved one if they refuse to enter treatment.

The next step is the actual day of the intervention. Once your loved one arrives, the addiction interventionist or therapist will lead the intervention. They will introduce themselves and explain why they’re there. Family members and friends will then read their letters, and the professional will inform the loved one of their treatment option. After this, the real work begins. The addiction interventionist or therapist will help your loved one truly understand what their addiction is doing to themselves and the people who care about them. They will help them understand that things don’t have to be how they are now, forever, and that there is hope. They will do everything in their power to get your loved one on board to go to treatment, and then they will take them there.

Finally, some addiction interventionists and therapists offer post-intervention planning. This is crucial, since entering treatment is only the first step of a long road ahead. Post-intervention planning can include setting up outpatient treatment when your loved one returns home. It can also include making sure all family members and friends learn how to manage any enabling behaviors.

What is an intervention’s goal?

If you’re considering having an intervention for your loved one, their addiction has likely taken a life of its own. At this point, your loved one may be struggling significantly both mentally and emotionally, as well as spiritually and physically.

If left untreated for much longer, your loved one is at great risk. This is why getting them into treatment is so important, and is the primary goal of an intervention. The purpose of an intervention is to show love and support for your loved one, express your concerns to them, and offer them hope that there is a way out of the dark place they’re in. Getting into treatment is only the first step, but it’s arguably the most important one.

What are the benefits of an intervention for addiction?

When conducted effectively, there are many benefits to having an intervention:

  • Interventions are a way to show unconditional love and support.

  • Interventions are a way to help the person with addiction get the help they need.

  • Interventions can help the person with addiction become aware of the magnitude of their problem.

  • When done correctly, interventions can help your loved one feel accepted and understood rather than judged and stigmatized.

  • Interventions can give you and your loved ones the opportunity to share your feelings in a safe and mediated environment.

The benefits of having an intervention can be life-altering for your loved one. However, it's important to keep in mind that bringing on a professional can make a huge difference in the outcome of the intervention.

How interventions work when a professional is on board

Sometimes, well-meaning loved ones can try to run an intervention on their own, but this poses many risks. When you love someone who’s struggling with an addiction, it’s easy for your own emotions to interfere with the message you’re trying to convey. Your loved one may have trouble taking you seriously, as you’ve likely expressed your concerns to them many times before. If your loved one lashes out, displaying resistance or anger, it may be difficult for you to diffuse the conflict. Additionally, your loved one may say you don’t understand what they’re going through, and this can prompt them to shut down even more.

For this reason, interventions can be more effective when run by an addiction interventionist or trained professional. An addiction interventionist is trained to handle any situation that presents itself, and can help diffuse conflict and outbursts. An addiction interventionist is an unbiased third party who can speak with empathy and clarity without letting their own emotions get in the way. Some interventionists have experienced addiction themselves, and can truly level with your loved one.

Beyond this, an addiction interventionist can create a more focused intervention. They can ensure that your loved one's addiction is addressed, while avoiding other issues that may arise during the process. A professional will also be able to help you plan for aftercare, so your loved one knows what steps they need to take after leaving rehab. Finally, an interventionist can help provide you with the support you need to navigate such a complex and challenging time.

A final note

Ultimately, you just want your loved one to get better.

You want the person you know and love to come back to the surface.

An intervention can be the catalyst for the change your loved one needs to begin their healing journey and get back to who they truly are.

- David


Related articles on getting support in recovery from addiction:


Hi, I’m David Marion. I’m a Sober Companion, Sober Escort, Nationally Certified Recovery Coach, Nationally Certified Intervention Professional, Addiction Recovery Speaker, and Author of Addiction Rescue: The No- BS Guide to Recovery.

If you or your loved one is in need of an addiction intervention, book a free call with me today. It’s time to finally break free from addiction and create the life you deserve.

Worried your loved one is in the midst of an addiction crisis? Unsure of what to do next? Download my free Addiction Crisis Guide. This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know including the stages of addiction, the emotional, behavioral, and physical signs of addiction, signs of addiction for different substances, and more.

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