How Does an Intervention Work?


An intervention is a meticulously planned process that may be done by family and close friends or those effected by the addicts addiction.  These members of the addicts life are generally joined by a medical doctor and/or  licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or directed by an intervention professional (interventionist). It sometimes involves co-workers, church members or others who care about the person struggling with addiction.

During the intervention, these people come together to confront the addict about the consequences of their addiction issues and ask him or her to accept treatment. The intervention itself servers as a sounding board for those affected by the addiction. Here is what an intervention aims to accomplish. 

  • Provides specific examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on the addicted person and loved ones
  • Offers a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals and guidelines
  • Spells out what each person will do if a loved one refuses to accept treatment

How does a typical intervention work?

All interventions are run differently depending on the interventionist running them.  However, in our experiences across the country, here are the general steps included in the process. 

  1. Create a plan. A family member or friend suggests an intervention. It's our opinion that you consult with a qualified professional on how to run an intervention.  We always recommend working with an interventionist as they have the skills and background to handle the process for you. They also will help you organize everything and keep all parties on track.   However, you may also want to consult a counselor, addiction specialist, psychologist, mental health counselor, or social worker. An intervention is a highly charged situation with the potential to cause anger, resentment or a sense of betrayal.
  2. Gather information. The group members/interventionist find out about the extent of the loved one's problem and research the condition and treatment programs. The group may initiate arrangements to enroll the loved one in a specific treatment program. If you are using an interventionist, they will help you find a treatment center that fits your loved ones needs.  If you are at this point, you can call us and we will help you locate a treatment center. 
  3. Form the intervention team. The planning group/interventionist forms a team that will personally participate in the intervention. The intervention team will set a date and location and work together to present a consistent, well rehearsed message and a structured plan. Often, the interventionist will help keep the discussion focused on the facts of the problem and shared solutions rather than strong emotional responses. Do not, under any circumstances, fill your loved one in on what you are doing until the day of the intervention. This is key.
  4. Decide on specific consequences. If your loved one doesn't accept treatment, each  member on the team needs to decide what action he or she will take. Examples include requesting your loved one moves out or taking away contact with children.
  5. Make notes on what to say. Each member of the intervention team describes specific examples where the loved ones addiction caused problems, such as emotional or financial issues. Explain the toll of your loved one's behavior has had on you, while still showing you care and the expectation that your loved one can change. Your loved one can't argue with facts or with your emotional response to the problem. For example begin by saying "I was hurt when you got drunk and missed…"
  6. Hold the intervention meeting. Without explaining the reason for the invitation, the loved one is asked to the intervention site. Members of the intervention team will then take turns explaining and expressing their concerns and feelings. The loved one is presented with a pre-determined treatment option and asked to accept that option on the spot. Each team member will say what specific changes he or she will make if the addicted person doesn't accept the plan. Do not threaten a consequence unless you are ready to follow through with it.
  7. Follow up. Involving a spouse, family members, church family or others is critical to help someone with an addiction issue stay in treatment and avoid relapsing. The treatment center you select for treatment should offer an after-care program to help you understand what is needed by you and other loved ones to help maintain sobriety. 

A successful intervention must be planned carefully to work as intended. A poorly planned intervention can worsen the situation dramatically— your loved one may feel attacked and become isolated or more resistant to treatment.

If you would like to speak with a professional addiction interventionist, give us a call.  We are here to help your and your loved one get the help needed.  The call is free and will help you understand the process.  Call Now.