family Intervention

Tips for Staging A Family Intervention

Edited by Beth Durling

Last updated April 21, 2019

Addiction is a devastating disease that affects virtually every aspect of a person’s life. Not only that, but the people closest to an addict often experience negative impacts, too. What should you do if your loved one is suffering from the debilitating illness of addiction? It’s a tough situation to be in, but it may become even worse if your family member won’t admit they have a problem or refuses to get help.

Suddenly, you and other close friends or family members may end up feeling like you’re in the wrong and question whether their substance abuse is a problem. What if you take things too far and end up being cut off from communication? While their response may be unpredictable, gathering your family together to confront your loved one might be the only logical step forward to ensure they get the help they need.

For over 30 years, Northbound Treatment has been helping individuals and families overcome the devastating effects of drug and alcohol addiction. If you’re wondering how to stage an intervention, we can assist. Here, you’ll find a detailed rundown of the intervention process and helpful tips for staging a family intervention.

How to Stage an Intervention

So, what’s an intervention and how do interventions work? A drug or alcohol intervention is a coordinated attempt by a group of people to help an addict realize or admit they have a substance abuse problem[2]. The ultimate goal of the confrontation is usually to get the individual to agree to change their destructive behavior or seek help from a professional. Here’s how to stage an intervention for a family member.

Talk About It

If you suspect a family member has a secret addiction, the worst thing you can do is keep your suspicions to yourself. In 2018, 7.4% of people ages 12 and older in the U.S had substance abuse disorder (SUD). This is a substantial societal problem that cannot be solved by staying silent.

Keeping your concerns and emotions bottled up is not good for you. It can make you feel like you’re holding on to your family member’s secret as much as they are. But it can also make you inadvertently complicit in their behavior. You are, in some ways, condoning their addiction. 

Instead of staying silent, start by discussing the issue with other family members you trust. Only talk to those who are likely to be of help with a confrontation. Involving relatives you don’t trust or who may anger the person struggling with addiction could inflame the situation.

By discussing your concerns and exchanging information with other family members, you can start to paint a picture of what is really going on. This can feel like you’re going behind their back, but don’t feel guilty. You’re acting in your relative’s best interests.

Seek Expert Advice Before You Stage an Intervention

Planning a family intervention without carefully considering the possible outcomes is a high-risk move. That’s why we recommend seeking advice from an addiction expert or intervention specialist before taking action.

At Northbound Treatment, our drug and alcohol abuse programs start the minute you contact us about your loved one’s addiction. Whether you call, email, or use the live chat feature on our website, we’re here to help, and we’d love to hear from you. Our addiction counselors and alcohol and drug addiction intervention specialists can advise you on what to do if you’re thinking about intervening. We’ll also go over various alcohol or drug treatment options you can present to your loved one.

Identify Your Goal

After recruiting a small group of trusted family members and determining that action should be taken, you can start planning to stage a professional intervention. The first step is identifying your goal. Typically, the objective is for your loved one to acknowledge they have a problem. If they can’t admit to their substance abuse, you won’t be able to help them get treatment.

If your family member is receptive to your concerns and admits they have an addiction, the next objective is for them to agree to seek help[3]. In most cases, this means going seeking treatment at a rehabilitation center. While interventions can work, it’s best to have realistic expectations, as it can be hard to get through to someone who’s hiding their addiction.

Plan the Day

Planning is everything when it comes to staging a successful intervention. Pick a neutral location where your loved one will feel at ease. Public places like coffee shops and restaurants are not good options. A family member’s home is probably your best bet. Another option is the addict’s home since it might be difficult to get them to show up at another location. However, keep in mind that they may feel as though you’re invading their space, and there’s a chance they could throw you out.

Rules of Engagement 

Be sure to set clear boundaries about what behaviors are acceptable and what consequences they’ll face if the boundaries are breached. For instance, if your loved one becomes violent, decide with your other family members beforehand whether you’re going to call the police or press charges. If you know your relative has committed criminal offenses in relation to their addiction and refuses to comply with the conditions, plan ahead about what action you’ll take.

Be warned, though, involving the police may backfire and could lead to your loved one overdosing or taking other extreme measures. Always consult an expert before you decide on anything like this.

Try Not to Be Dramatic 

It is important that you don’t over-dramatize the intervention or make your loved one feel as if they’re on trial. There are many television shows—from Dr. Phil to Jerry Springer—which supposedly offer a “tough love” approach to family interventions. However, these TV series are designed largely to make good television, and there are often a host of professionals backstage to pick up the pieces afterward. The point is to remain calm and be respectful to the addicted individual.

Have Treatment Options at the Ready

A successful family intervention will end in your loved one agreeing to get addiction treatment. Before going into it, it’s crucial to have possible rehab options sorted out. Research various rehab facilities to find one that’s a good fit. Then contact them to confirm they can accommodate your loved one the day of the intervention meeting or very soon after. Also, verify insurance coverage and payment options to make the process as smooth as possible.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Orange County

Now that you know how to stage an intervention, you can put your best foot forward in trying to help your family member. Here at Northbound Treatment, we’re known for our high success rates in helping individuals overcome drug addiction and alcoholism. The services we offer include treatment for addiction to a broad range of substances, and we’re proud to provide a full continuum of care. From detox to residential rehab and outpatient treatment to ongoing addiction support, we do it all.

Our dedicated team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and addiction counselors focus not only on drug or alcohol abuse but also on any mental health conditions at play. From there, we work with our clients to create an individualized recovery plan that may involve dual diagnosis treatment for a co-occurring psychological disorder. Substance abuse disorder and mental illness are incredibly complex conditions. That’s why we approach drug and alcohol rehab with compassion and flexibility, supporting our clients every step of the way.

The path to sobriety is never easy—not for addicts and not for their families. But Northbound Treatment is committed to ensuring the process is comfortable, safe, and productive, ultimately guiding clients to a better, happier life. We accept most insurance plans and can work with you on a payment option that suits your unique situation.

If you’re planning to stage an intervention for someone dear to you, we can help every step of the way. Don’t delay reaching out to us. Call Northbound at (888) 978-8649 to get started.

External sources:

  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018.pdf
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/would-an-intervention-help-my-addicted-loved-one-4147406

Article Reviewed by Beth Durling

Beth DurlingBeth Durling BA, CADCII, ICADC is the Clinical Director of Northbound Treatment Services. She is also the proud owner of The Durling Group, Inc., a national consulting firm, where she worked closely with large scale corporations, healthcare companies, and universities, helping to enhance outcomes.

Beth founded and resided as CEO for The Center for Life Change, a non-profit drug and alcohol treatment center in Riverside County where she gained national recognition for her outcomes as a leader in the field of addiction surrounding patient care, specializing in retention strategies for both staff and patients.

She also founded The Heart Culture Academy, creating a collaborative national community of trained influencers, helping people change their relationships, their work environments and personal lives through her published Model, Heart Culture.

Beth believes individual lives can be enhanced through learned consciousness, utilizing her specialized techniques that offer long-lasting, connection-based relationships. She has toured the country speaking and distributing this message.

Beth has been writing and speaking to assist individuals and organizations through transformative processes for the last 25 years. She is the mother to two adult children, Ridge and Rachel and resides in San Clemente, California.

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