What is an Intervention for Drug Abuse? How Do You Plan One?

What is an Intervention for Drug Abuse? How Do You Plan One?

An intervention is a necessary step in the recovery process. With a room full of loved ones and an assurance of a safe environment, interventions are a great way to air grievances, define problems, and talk about solutions and next steps.

During an intervention, the loved ones of an addict gather in a room to “call out” the substance use problem. They also let the struggling individual know they are supported and loved. During this meeting, the family and the suffering person can kick-start a recovery plan. The first step to overcoming addiction is admitting there is a problem. The goal of an intervention is to help the individual to recognize, acknowledge, and attempt to fix that problem.

How Does an Intervention Work?

The intervention should take place in a safe environment, whether this the home of a friend or family member, the home of the individual, or a commonplace like a church, park, or community center. Everyone attending should be ready to participate.

For example, before the meeting, each person should write on a piece of paper about how the individual’s addiction has impacted their own life, either physically, emotionally, or financially. It’s important to remember that you are there to support and show love for the person. The purpose of this exercise is to help the individual see the enormity of their addiction.

By definition, an intervention is unknown to the individual who is suffering from addiction. The meeting should be a “surprise.” As the person enters the room, either the professional or a close friend or family member should explain the purpose of the gathering.

The process can be slow as not to overwhelm the individual. Slowly transition into the activity described above but most importantly, make sure the individual feels loved, supported, and safe. An intervention should a judgment-free zone. This will help to make the atmosphere more comfortable for the struggling individual. 

Who Should Call an Intervention?

If you have a family member or a close friend who is showing signs of drug addiction or alcoholism, you can call an intervention. Every situation is unique, so there is no golden rule, however, if you’re concerned about the person’s well-being you obviously know them deeply enough to care that they are safe. If you think an intervention might be the next logical step, talk to other people who are close to him or her to start a support group. With a few people on board, you can schedule an intervention.

About Interventions: Elements to Consider

There are several things to consider when holding an intervention. Firstly, it’s important to establish your goal. What do you wish to accomplish as a result of an intervention? Next, you should select the members of the intervention group. Also, you should choose the location for the meeting. Finally, determine the action you and your group will take after the meeting

What is the Goal of an Intervention?

The true goal of an intervention is for the person to realize that rehab is a possible opportunity for change. The purpose of having so many interested parties confront the addict at the same time is not to “gang up” on the individual, but to show him or her how far their addition reaches, quantify how many people their addition effects and explain that help is available, right now, should he or she accept it.

Who Should Be Involved in an Intervention?

While a majority of interventions are solely inhabited by family members, it is good to note that there are people close to the person with the addiction that may be necessary for the intervention to take full effect.

It is best to avoid including individuals that do not get along well with the struggling individual. Estranged family members may not be the best options. If your loved one does not like a certain person or simply feels uncomfortable around that individual, it’s best not to involve the said person. Including these individuals may make an already uncomfortable situation even worse.

It is also a good idea to use the services of a person trained in the process of drug and alcohol intervention. A professional interventionist acts as a mutual third party and can provide the family and friends with the information they need to conduct a thorough and safe intervention.

Where Should the Intervention Be Held?

The intervention should be carried out in a place that is neutral, as the environment or setting should not be a place that elicits particular emotions in the struggling individual’s life. As we mentioned earlier, interventions can be held in settings such as a home, a church, or a community center.

For example, if the setting is unfamiliar, the individual may feel extremely uncomfortable, potentially making the meeting ineffective. On the other hand, holding the intervention in a place that is all too familiar to the individual may make the meeting ineffective as the person may be distracted. 

Also, you’ll want to avoid holding the intervention in a place that makes the individual angry, sad, or excited. Instead, opt for a place that is neutral and will help to point the person’s attention in the right direction.

Determine the End Result and Final Actions

As stated, the ultimate goal of staging an addiction intervention is to encourage your loved one to seek help for his or her substance use disorder. You want the person to acknowledge and admit to having a problem. But, once this has occurred, you’ll need to have a plan. After all, realizing you need help does nothing unless you follow this realization with action.

If your goal is to help your loved one get treatment, you should select an addiction rehab facility before the meeting. Establish a plan for getting your loved one enrolled in treatment at that facility once he or she agrees to get help. Secure a mode of transportation and make sure there are no other obstacles between the individual and treatment. Finally, be absolutely sure to take action quickly in order to prevent extra time for your loved one to change his or her mind.

What If They Don’t Agree to Get Help?

It is also important to think about another possible result of your meeting. Even if you do all the right things in holding the intervention, your family member or friend may not be willing to commit to treatment. You and your group should be prepared for this outcome. You may either need to plan another meeting or present consequences.

These consequences could include varying actions. But, it’s important to make sure that these are actions that you can actually carry out. 

Some examples of consequences for the individual refusing treatment may be as follows:

  • The individual can no longer live with you.
  • He or she may no longer spend time with your children.
  • You will no longer financially support the individual.
  • The person can no longer use your vehicle or other belongings.

You must choose the consequences that relate to your situation. For example, if your loved one often uses your car, you may need to revoke those privileges in order to prevent him or her from driving under the influence or going to obtain more alcohol or drugs.

If the substance user is your parent or other older family member, you may not want to leave them without a place to live. Still, you may decide not to allow them to live with you any longer, finding a safe, alternative living arrangement.

Again, whichever consequences you and your group settle on, it is vital that you carry them out. Be sure that the individual knows you will do as you have said. This will ensure that the person understands that, if they choose not to get help, life as they know it will change very soon.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Staging an Intervention

Do not:

  • Show up to the meeting unprepared.
  • Play the blame game, show judgment, or make the individual feel guilty or ashamed.
  • Bring up past experiences or recent situations that are irrelevant to the topic.
  • Address the individual while he or she is drunk or under the influence of drugs.
  • Panic, lose your temper, or become otherwise emotionally unstable.
  • Allow the person to change the subject or divert attention to something else.


  • Rehearse, practice, and talk about what will be discussed in the meeting.
  • Reassure the individual that you love and support him or her.
  • Tell the individual the truth as it relates to his/her addiction and its effects.
  • Approach the individual while he or she is sober and able to be mentally present.
  • Remain calm. Emotions will run high. You may feel sad, guilty, or upset throughout the meeting. The suffering individual may also experience many emotions. But, do not allow these emotions to get out of hand.
  • Focus on the matter at hand.

We have already mentioned the importance of choosing the right location and intervention group members. We have also discussed the goals of intervention and what to do once the meeting is complete. It is important to address some other things you may want to do or avoid doing when staging an addiction intervention.

Keep these points in mind as you prepare to stage an intervention for your loved one. With the right mindset and methods, you can hold a successful intervention.

Learn More by Contacting Us Today

No doubt, the idea of meeting with a person you love to discuss his or her addiction is somewhat frightening. It can be unsettling and uncomfortable to know that you may need to intervene. But, knowing that the individual is suffering from a treatable disease can motivate you to face your fears and help your loved one find hope. 

Treatment may just be what helps you save the individual’s life. But, addiction often prevents struggling individuals from seeing the truth about their situation. People may not really see the entirety or understand the effects of addiction on their life and the lives of those around them. But, their loved ones may be able to shed light on these matters through an intervention.

You can help your family member or friend to find peace and freedom. But, it may mean holding an intervention is unavoidable. Still, if you’re concerned or nervous, we understand here at Free by the Sea! Our compassionate team is here to help guide you through this difficult yet critical step. 

For more information on rehab, addiction, and interventions, check out our online resources. Free By the Sea offers support and resources for addicts and their families throughout Oregon and Washington. Contact us for more information also.

We look forward to helping you and your family find the healing and joy that come along with addiction recovery. Reach out to us today!

Get in touch with Free by the Sea

(844) 906-2300

Contact Us

Featured Blogs

12 AA Promises

An intervention is a necessary step in the...

Dangers of Non Alcoholic Beer

An intervention is a necessary step in the...

The Power of Positive Thinking in Recovery

An intervention is a necessary step in the...

Risk Factors for Substance Abuse

An intervention is a necessary step in the...

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

An intervention is a necessary step in the...

Table of Contents