A Call for Help: How to Plan an Intervention for the Addict in Your Life

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how to plan an intervention

Battling with an addiction is a very difficult and traumatic experience. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, or anything in between, addictions can wreak havoc through your life.

On the other hand, watching friends and family members struggle through addiction can be just as painful.

Addictions affect two-thirds of families in America.

Though things may seem hopeless, there are ways to help them. An intervention may be the best option for a struggling addict.

Keep reading to learn how to plan an intervention.

When Is an Intervention Appropriate?

First and most importantly, before considering how to plan an intervention, you need to know when an intervention is appropriate.

If your friend recently got his first DUI and has never had any other alcohol-related-problems, an intervention isn’t appropriate. Interventions aren’t designed for mistakes or one-time discrepancies.

However, if your friend is on his 3rd DUI or greater, it may be time to plan an intervention, if only to save him and others from a drunken accident.

If there are no legalities involved, there are signs to watch for indicating an intervention may be necessary.

  • Are they stealing from you or someone else to pay for their addiction?
  • Is their addiction affecting other aspects of their life—work, school, etc.?
  • Is their addiction endangering their life or the life of others?
  • Do they have children?
  • Are they flirting with legal trouble?
  • Do they get inflammatory and defensive when the subject comes up?
  • Do they deny that a problem exists?

If your friend or family member is exhibiting any of these behaviors, it may be time to hold an intervention.


If you decide to hold an intervention, it’s important that you come up with a gameplan.

Everyone you invite needs to be on the same page. This includes knowing what to say and what not to say.

This also includes knowing how to react in all possible scenarios that may ensue. When confronted with an intervention, addicts can feel attacked and may react defensively or even violently.

Others may take the route of denial or indifference. It’s important that everyone on the intervention team knows and agrees on how to handle each situation.

Invite the Right People

Part of knowing how to plan an intervention is knowing the right people to involve and invite.

First, you need a specialist involved in the planning or present for the intervention itself. A psychologist or intervention specialist can help make things run smoothly and even make a significant difference in the outcome of the intervention.

Secondly, not every family member or every friend is going to be a good person to have on your team. Emotional and mental maturity should be mandatory for all those involved.

The last thing any intervention needs is inflammatory or aggressive people on the team.

Investigate and Know the Facts

Before planning an intervention, make sure you know the facts. Gather information about the person in question and ensure an intervention is even necessary.

Secondly, use information gathered from others to build your case to justify the intervention to the addict, as they will commonly be in denial about the severity of their addiction.

It helps to have testimonials with dates and facts to present.

Another vital component when deciding how to plan an intervention is knowing what treatment options are available.

To help the person in question feel cared about and not attacked, it helps to present them with options for treatment, rather than just accusations and hurt feelings.

Intervene, but Exercise Caution

Depending on the personality of your loved one, you have two options when deciding how to plan an intervention.

You may choose a surprise intervention, or you may choose to tell them about it in advance. There are pros and cons to each.

If you choose a surprise intervention, it may not be well received. Your loved one may feel attacked and ambushed, which can cause negative reactions. These reactions can be anger, aggression, and even violence.

They may simply leave without saying a word.

Alternatively, you may choose to be up-front about it and tell them beforehand what is going to happen. In this case, it may be perceived as less aggressive and confrontational.

However, this may lead to a binger the previous night or them not showing up at all. It will also give them a chance to come up with excuses, lies, and justifications for their behavior.

This is a choice you must decide base on the person the intervention is for and how deep down the rabbit hole they are. Interventions done right generally have high success rates.

Have a Script

Learning how to plan an intervention successfully means having a script of sorts for the intervention team.

This will ensure all of the vital points are covered and people don’t get carried away with their emotions and get off track.

Make sure everyone knows what they’re going to say, and just as importantly, how they’re going to say it. Very little should be left up to ad-libbing.

In this “script” should be predecided reactions based on your loved one’s reception of the conversations.

Pre-emptively Decide the Hard Choices

Once you have presented your loved one with treatment options and ideas, this is where learning how to plan an intervention is most important. This is a pivotal point.

After hearing the options, your loved one will either embrace help and treatment or become defensive and difficult. They may continue to be in denial or storm out of the room.

Worst case scenario, they may even get confrontational, aggressive, and even violent. A brain plagued with addiction reacts differently than normal.

The job of the intervention team is to be prepared to enforce the hard decisions. This may include cutting your loved one off from money, kicking them out of the house, or removing yourself from their life, depending on the severity of the situation.

However, if they refuse help, they must be aware of the repercussions of their choice not to change.

Knowing How to Plan an Intervention Doesn’t Cover Everything

Finally, knowing how to plan an intervention is imperative, but your work isn’t done yet.

First, you have to carry it out and be prepared for whatever consequences ensue. Secondly, you need to commit to following up with your loved one on a regular basis.

This will ensure they know you really care and keep them accountable. Knowing there will be consistent follow up on their progress can keep them from falling off the wagon.

Interventions can be hard. They require courage and clarity. They are emotionally challenging and painful. They don’t always end well.

However, they are often necessary for the well-being of your loved one.

For more articles about substance abuse, addiction, and treatment, take a look at our blog posts.

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