Staging an Intervention for Addiction

It can be hard to watch your loved one suffer from an addiction. Interventions allow you to express your concern and encourage your loved one to seek help. Clinical professionals can be useful during this process to mediate and provide treatment options.

What is an intervention?

There are several kinds of interventions for drug and alcohol abuse. Most interventions are called direct interventions.  In direct interventions, people lovingly get together and confront a person about their drug or alcohol use. They express their concerns and recommend that they start treatment.

Friends, family and peers give examples of:

  • How the addiction has negatively affected the person’s life
  • The impact that the addiction has had on each participant in the intervention
  • Options the addict has for treatment and rehabilitation

Staging an Effective Intervention

Some people will ask for an interventionist who can help manage the specifics of the intervention. An interventionist coordinates and facilitates the meeting between the person battling an addiction and their families. This can be a person from a specialized clinic or an independent interventionist.

It is important to have clear guidelines as to what you would like the subject of the intervention to do next. This might mean arranging for the person to enter inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation as soon as they agree to get help.

There should be as little time as possible between the intervention and the start of rehab. The entire treatment plan should be set up ahead of time in the hopes that the addict will agree to it.

In rare situations, someone suffering from addiction may need to be admitted to a rehabilitation facility against their will. This can occur in legal situations where the addict is offered rehabilitation or the option of jail time.

It is still important for the family to rally around their loved one and give them emotional support so they understand that the decision to seek treatment is the right one.

Rehabilitation can still be effective even if the addict must go against their will. Family, friends and peers should not withhold their support.

A Parent’s Guide to Interventions

It can be difficult to connect with a teenager struggling with addiction. Family members often have greater influence over the teenager than they might perceive.

As the parents of a teenager or child struggling with addiction, it is important to show them love and care. That way, you can help them make the decision to get clean. It is important for them to hear how their behaviors damage their own lives and the lives of people they care about.

Family involvement leads to success in a teenager’s recovery process. An intervention may feel like tough love. This is because its goal is to take the decision of whether or not to seek treatment out of the teenager’s hands. Parents should strongly demand their child receive help for their addiction or face consequences at home.

Staging an Intervention for Your Child

As with any intervention, there are two parts to it. The first part is explaining to the teenager how their drug use has affected the family, their own life and their future.

It is important that the teenager understands how the addiction impacts their family and friends. It may be helpful to have friends, teachers and school counselors at the intervention for support. The treatment program, insurance issues and an immediate admission to a facility should be arranged prior to the intervention.

Parents should explain why seeking treatment is necessary. Remove the shame or blame from your child by carefully explaining how addiction is a disease that needs immediate treatment.

Consequences of not agreeing to intervention and rehabilitation should be harsh. It is not out of the question to tell the teen that they can no longer live at home if they don’t choose to seek treatment. This may seem like an impossible thing to say, but your child needs to understand that getting help is much more important than continuing their drug or alcohol use.

If a school counselor or teacher cannot be available at the intervention, it may be a good idea to have an interventionist there to give another adult’s perspective into the problem.

A Friend’s Guide to Interventions

Family members may not stage interventions due to codependencies or other reasons. Concerned friends can still stage interventions for people without the support of families. Even so, families should be invited to an intervention if it would help persuade the subject to get help.

To stage an intervention for your friend, gather as many like-minded friends, peers and co-workers as possible.

The goal is to have stories that explain how their drug use has impacted:

  • Their personal life
  • Their work life
  • Friendships
  • Relationships

Because you are not a primary family member to the person struggling with addiction, you may be limited in finding an accessible treatment program prior to the intervention. It is still important to express your concerns even if immediate treatment cannot be arranged.

Staging an Intervention for Your Friend

It may be a good idea to use an interventionist who knows what types of programs are available and who can help with the get the subject immediate treatment.

You may find it difficult to tell your friend how their drug use has impacted your friendship.  You may feel as though you’ll lose their friendship if they deny having a problem.

This is why having more than just a few friends will make a lasting impact.

It is also important to have friends who have not enabled the subject in the past and who do not have addiction problems themselves. You need people who genuinely feel impacted by your friend’s addiction.

Though your friend may be angry during the intervention, you will have helped save their life if they receive treatment as a result of it.

A Co-worker’s Guide to Interventions

Sometimes a person’s drug use affects their job performance to such a degree that their co-workers need to stage an intervention.

Co-worker interventions encourage your co-worker to get help before they lose their job because of their addiction.

Co-workers can relate how a drug addiction has impacted the user’s life not only through job performance but through their emotional and physical state.

Staging an Intervention for Your Co-worker

Some people struggling with drug or alcohol use may be embarrassed to have co-workers intervene upon their drug addiction.

This can be made easier by avoiding blame or shame. It is also beneficial to give your struggling co-worker true and honest accounts on how their addiction has impacted their job performance.

Having your boss attend the intervention can be especially effective. This lets the addict know that their addiction is a serious issue — one that they may lose their job over. Your boss may also have more information on insurance coverage available for treatment. This may increase the chances that your co-worker will agree to rehab or therapy.

It may not be necessary to threaten the person battling an addiction that they will lose their job if they do not seek treatment. Sharing genuine stories and having your boss attend the intervention may be enough to convince your co-worker that treatment is their only option.

Co-worker interventions may include family members and friends. However, these people may be codependent or may enable the person struggling with addiction in ways that co-workers do not. People who support or contribute to the user’s drug addiction should not be at the intervention.

Author:Kent Hoffman
Kent Hoffman

Dr. Kent Hoffman has been practicing medicine for nearly 30 years. He is board-certified to practice addiction medicine and family medicine. Dr. Hoffman gets to know his patients on a first-name basis to provide compassionate and professional health care.

Last modified: 01/14/2019