6 Components of a Successful Addiction Intervention

6 Components of a Successful Addiction Intervention

Entering a drug and alcohol treatment program is a big step that many addicted people are not ready to make on their own. If your loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder and their life has become unmanageable as a result, it may be time to host an intervention.

An addiction intervention is a structured conversation held between an addicted individual and his or her loved ones. It is intended to shed light on the negative ways the addict’s behaviors have impacted the people they care about. The ultimate goal of an intervention is to help them get into a treatment program so they can overcome their addiction and start living sober.

If you are considering hosting an addiction intervention for a close friend or loved one, here are six of the components you will need to ensure its success.

  1. Education and understanding

Before you confront your loved one about their substance abuse, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with drug addiction, which has been recognized by worldwide health professionals and organizations as a chronic relapsing brain disease.1 Many people don’t understand how or why people become addicted to drugs, which, in turn, can also affect how they respond. Drug addiction is a complex disease, so taking the time to read about how it affects the brain and body, as well as what type of treatment is required to fully recover, will better prepare you for the intervention process. Reading up on addiction, treatment, and recovery will also help you be more compassionate and understanding when you approach your loved one.

  1. Trusted loved ones

Although an intervention is a group affair, it is also a very private one. You should aim to involve five or six very close friends and family members who have been directly affected by your loved one’s drug addiction. This may include parents, siblings, grandparents, children, cousins, and best friends.  Involving too many people, or someone whom the addicted person dislikes can sabotage even the best efforts to host an effective intervention.

  1. A well-rehearsed plan

Friends and family should prepare for the intervention by writing down and rehearsing what each person would like to say. This can help prevent any overly-emotional speeches that do more harm than good or cause conflict that could prevent the addict from accepting any help. Choosing an appropriate time to host the intervention is also an important part of the planning process. Try to pick a time early in the day when your loved one is most likely to be clear-headed and sober (or as sober as possible). Hosting an intervention immediately following a drug-related arrest may also be effective timing.

  1. Conflict-free dialogue

When you confront your loved one, try your best to avoid blaming or verbally attacking the person, and instead, focus on solutions, like settling on a plan for treatment. For example, instead of saying, “You made me so mad and hurt when you missed my graduation because you got drunk,” say, “I felt very hurt and angry when you got drunk and missed my graduation.” If the addicted individual tries to pick a fight with you or verbally attacks you, do not respond. Doing so will only fuel the fire. Try to focus on the overall goal: getting your loved one into treatment.

  1. Ultimatums and follow-through

At the conclusion of the intervention, you should ask the addict to immediately commit to treatment. At this time, you should share any consequences or ultimatums you will commit to if he or she continues to abuse drugs. If your loved one refuses to get help, be prepared to follow through on those ultimatums no matter how difficult it may be for you. This may seem harsh, but remember that shielding your addicted loved one from the natural consequences of his or her addiction will only make the problem worse. Your addicted loved one will need to decide to get help when they are ready.

  1. Treatment recommendations

Have a few good treatment options ready to present to your loved one if he or she agrees to get help. Examples should include medical detox centers, long-term residential drug rehab or outpatient drug rehab programs, online IOP, and sober living homes. Ideally, these treatment recommendations will also accept the person’s health insurance and have immediate openings for new clients. Remember, the goal is to get your loved one into a treatment program right away.

What are the Different Intervention Techniques?

There are many different intervention techniques that families and loved ones can use, depending on the addict’s personality and the circumstances of their addiction. Examples of some common intervention approaches include:

  • The “tough love” intervention approach: This intervention technique is focused on protecting the family from harm caused by the addiction. It requires family members and other loved ones to focus on the unintentional or intentional damage caused by the addiction, such as financial problems, jail time, personality changes, or fears about the future health and well-being of family members. The individuals hosting the intervention share these fears and concerns and then lay out strict consequences they will enact if the person refuses to go to treatment. Examples often include reporting the addicted person to authorities, refusing to support them financially, or requiring that they leave the family home.
  • The “love first” intervention approach: This intervention technique is a gentler option that is often used by families and loved ones who prefer not to threaten or completely cut ties with the addicted person. During the intervention, loved ones share messages of love and support directed toward the addicted individual and highlight examples of positive things the person has done in the past, reasons they were once admired by others, and positive hopes for the person’s future. Sometimes, this approach can help soften an addict’s resistance to the idea of going to rehab and yield more positive results.
  • The “crisis intervention” approach: This intervention technique is usually implemented immediately after a drug-related crisis or incident, such as an arrest or an overdose. Unfortunately, there isn’t much a family can do to prepare for this type of intervention. However, in most cases, families use the crisis as an opportunity to confront the addicted person and discuss how the addiction caused the incident and then ask the person to go to treatment as soon as they are physically able.

An interventionist can help guide you through these options and assist you in selecting the most ideal techniques for your current situation.

Working With a Professional Interventionist

If this is your first time hosting an addiction intervention for a loved one, you may want to consider working with a professional interventionist. A professional interventionist is someone who has been trained and has previous experience planning and executing successful addiction interventions. Their primary role is to help you plan every aspect of the intervention, prepare what you will say, and facilitate the conversation as a neutral third-party.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, when an intervention is hosted with the help of a professional interventionist, over 90 percent of people commit to getting help.2 If you fear your addicted love one may become violent or hurt themselves during the intervention, working with an interventionist may be especially important.

At Briarwood Detox Center, we have helped countless families connect with professional interventionists to successfully get their loved ones into treatment and onto a path of recovery. If you have a loved one who needs help to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction, please call (888) 857-0557 to speak with a representative at Briarwood Detox Center. We are happy to provide intervention assistance and pair you with a qualified and vetted professional who will best address your needs and circumstances.



  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science
  2. https://ncadd-phx.org/intervention-3/

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