March 15, 2024

How to Do an Intervention for Friends or Family

image of people representing how to do an intervention

An intervention can inspire people to seek assistance for drug or alcohol misuse, even if they are initially resistant to engaging with treatment or in denial. Learn how to do an intervention for friends or family and discover strategies to ensure its success.

How to Do an Intervention in 10 Steps

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Although all addictions are unique, you can use this framework to do an intervention if you feel that your loved one would benefit from engaging with evidence-based addiction treatment:

  • Gather information: Research the addiction and identify the most appropriate treatment options. The more you know about the nature of the addiction, the more effectively you can intervene.
  • Form the intervention team: Select a group of close family members, friends, or co-workers who are impacted by the individual’s behavior. Include people the person respects and cares about.
  • Choose an intervention specialist: If possible, enlist the help of a professional interventionist. They can guide the process, offer expertise, and help manage the situation if emotions run high.
  • Make a plan: An intervention requires careful planning to ensure that it goes smoothly. Decide on the date, time, and location. Choose a private setting and a time when the person is least likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Gather information: Each member of the team should outline specific instances where the person’s addiction created problems – emotional or financial issues, for instance. This evidence should convey the impact of the addiction on the person and their loved ones.
  • Write impact statements: Each participant should write a personal statement to read during the intervention. These should express love and concern, not anger or accusation. Highlight the positive traits of the individual and show how the addiction has changed them. Be specific.
  • Offer help: Clearly outline the treatment plan and encourage the person to accept help immediately. Detail what each step involves and assure them of your support throughout the process.
  • Set boundaries: If the person refuses help, each team member must decide on the consequences. This might involve cutting financial support or limiting contact. It’s imperative that these boundaries are upheld.
  • Rehearse: Before the intervention, the team should meet to go over their statements and the plan of action. This helps to reduce anxiety and makes the process cohesive and supportive.
  • Follow up: Follow up after the intervention, whether the individual accepts help or not. If they agree to treatment, support their journey. If they refuse, enforce the boundaries set during the intervention. Consider seeking support for yourself during this challenging time.

Do Interventions Work?

The effectiveness of an intervention can vary widely and depends on factors like the willingness of the person with the addiction to listen and accept help, the presence of a skilled interventionist, and the support system available after the intervention.

Interventions can be a powerful tool when they are carefully planned and executed with the support of a professional. They provide a structured opportunity for loved ones to express their concerns in a non-confrontational manner, which can often motivate the person to agree to seek treatment. 

That said, success is not guaranteed, so prepare for all possible outcomes, including the individual’s refusal to change. The ultimate measure of an intervention’s success is the person’s commitment to ongoing recovery.

an image of people representing how to do an intervention for a family member

How to Do an Intervention for a Family Member

Here’s how to do an intervention on a family member.

  • Assess the family dynamics: Understand the specific roles and relationships within the family, as these can influence the person’s behavior and reaction.
  • Educate the family: Prior to the intervention, family members should be educated about addiction as a disease and the process of recovery. This helps create an environment of understanding and support.
  • Secure a family interventionist: A professional who has experience with family systems can be particularly helpful in working through the complex emotions and relationships at play.
  • Plan for emotional responses: Family interventions can be highly emotional. Plan for how to handle outbursts and make sure that the conversation remains focused on support and recovery.
  • Practice self-care: Family members must also take care of their emotional well-being to provide a stable support system for the individual in need.

How to Do an Intervention for a Friend

If you feel that a friend would benefit from addiction treatment, here are some pointers for staging an intervention:

  • Coordinate with other friends: Involve mutual friends who are concerned and affected by the individual’s behavior, as their opinions may be highly valued by the person in question.
  • Focus on friendship: The intervention should emphasize the positive aspects of the friendship and the desire to preserve it, rather than focusing solely on the addiction.
  • Maintain respect for privacy: Friends must be especially sensitive to the person’s privacy, ensuring that the intervention is discreet and does not jeopardize the individual’s reputation or social standing.
  • Highlight the impact on the friendship: Use specific examples of how the addiction has affected the friendship and the potential for future harm if the behavior continues.
  • Offer social support: Friends can offer a unique form of social support, such as engaging in activities together that promote a healthy lifestyle, away from the addictive behavior.

How to Do an Intervention for an Alcoholic

If you need to do an intervention for an alcoholic, here’s what to do:

  • Understand alcoholism: Take the time to understand the challenges and behaviors associated with alcoholism, as they can be different from other addictions.
  • Choose the right time: Attempting the intervention when the person is sober is especially important for alcoholics, as they may not be receptive or fully aware during periods of intoxication.
  • Tailor the treatment options: Make sure that the proposed treatment options specialize in alcoholism and have a proven track record of helping people with alcohol dependence.
  • Address denial: Denial is a common trait in alcoholics. The intervention should prepare to counter denial with facts and compassionate, yet firm, communication.
  • Consider medical concerns: Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous and may require medical supervision. Be prepared to discuss and facilitate immediate medical care if necessary.
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Call Addiction Hotline for Help Staging an Intervention

Since the opioid epidemic began in the United States, rates of addiction have risen year-on-year.  The latest data from NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) show that more than 1 million U.S. adults required addiction treatment in 2022 but had no idea how to get the help they needed.

If you or a loved one has been abusing prescription medications, alcohol, or illicit narcotics, reach out to Addiction Hotline today.

When you call, experienced and compassionate staff can answer your queries related to addiction and recovery. For those who are ready to engage with treatment, we can provide referrals to:

  • Medical detox centers
  • Inpatient rehabs (residential rehabs)
  • Outpatient treatment centers
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • PHPs (partial-hospitalization programs)
  • Peer support groups

Call 855-701-0479 right away for guidance, support, and access to evidence-based treatment.

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