how to hold an intervention in addiction

What is Intervention?

An intervention in addiction can help motivate an individual to seek treatment for various addictive behaviors. Whether the individual struggles from substance abuse, compulsive eating, gambling, or other, holding an intervention for addiction can successfully address the need for treatment.

An intervention is a carefully planned meeting held by family and friends of the individual who struggles with addiction. While there are several types of alcohol addiction interventions – ranging from official interventions mediated by a professional to coached interventions done at home – these meetings can help the individual who struggles with addiction realize the impact they have on those closest to them.

Intervention Topics

Whether the intervention is a family intervention, alcohol addiction intervention, or drug addiction intervention, those participating in it will generally cover several critical topics, such as:1

  • Confronting the loved one in response to an addictive behavior
  • Discussing the consequences of the addiction
  • Family members and friends take time to provide specific examples of how the destructive behaviors impact their lives
  • Offering treatment plans that have clear steps and goals.
  • Clearly stating how family members will react if that individual refuses to accept a treatment plan

Widely Used Interventions in Addiction

There are many commonly used types of interventions when it comes to addiction. Additionally, these treatments can offer plans for alcohol addiction intervention, drug addiction intervention, and more.

CRAFT Intervention

The CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach to Family Training) Intervention model is used to teach family members about their loved one’s addiction, help them identify potential triggers, and help them break patterns. This type of intervention is based on the idea that those who struggle with addiction are not only in denial of their disorder, and it holds that confrontation by the family can motivate the individual to receive the necessary treatment.2


The ARISE intervention strategy works with the person who struggles with addiction from the start. Instead of planning the intervention ahead of time, they are included in all planning and discussions regarding their addiction.3

Family Systemic Model

With the Family Systemic Model, the family comes together as a collaborative unit to discuss how the loved one’s addiction has affected them. This model is different from other types of intervention because the person who suffers from substance abuse or addiction will come to all the planned meetings with the intervention list. This intervention model includes them from the start and can be a great way to motivate them in their journey to recovery.4

Love First Intervention

The Love First Intervention process is composed of an assessment, preparation, and participation in an intervention that focuses on the love and concern of the family members involved. With this type, the family will work with an intervention clinician to help make the process run smoothly and successfully.5


Typical Intervention Process

The typical process for intervention in addiction is relatively straightforward and will follow a set guideline.

  • Plan: The first step in the addiction intervention process is to plan. Planning is best done as a group and will be the most successful if the group is assisted by a professional counselor, additions professional, or psychologist. During this time, the group will gather information, discuss the consequences if the individual refuses treatment, and discuss the best potential treatment options.
  • Rehearse: Next, the group will practice what they plan to say during the intervention, decide who will say what, and learn how to deliver the information in the most effective way possible. For example, the group will be encouraged to use indisputable facts and emotional responses instead of placing blatant blame on the person who is struggling with the substance abuse.
  • Perform: Finally, the group will hold the intervention and express their concerns with their loved one. The intervention will discuss treatment options as well as consequences.

How to Hold a Successful Intervention

To hold a successful intervention, there are a couple of factors that a group must consider before they meet to perform. While the group could hold the intervention without professional help, it is recommended that they work with someone who is trained to perform addiction interventions.

Plan Ahead

Firstly, it’s important to plan ahead. Without a properly planned and organized intervention, it can be easy to get off track and for the intervention to be unsuccessful. Group members who are participating in the alcohol addiction intervention should write down what they plan to say, practice their statements, and work together as a group to discuss who will be performing each role.

Remain Organized

The organization is also key to a successful intervention. Without proper notes and discussions on who will lead the intervention and who will speak when it can be easy for the process to get off track. Additionally, remaining organized can help for the inevitable situation where the loved one who struggles with addiction objects to the intervention at hand.

Hire an Expert

Finally, the group must consider hiring an expert who can help facilitate the intervention and even participate in the planning aspect. With an expert, the group will feel more comfortable discussing their emotional responses and how the loved one’s addiction impacts their lives. The counselor, psychologist, or mental health practitioner can also work with the family to put into words the feelings that they have regarding their loved one’s struggles with addiction.


What to Expect in an Intervention

With proper planning and organization, there should not be many surprises when it comes to the actual intervention. However, those participating in it should be prepared for potential consequences and objections from the loved one that is struggling with substance abuse.

Expect Objections

During the intervention, the loved one who struggles with substance abuse will likely object to the claims being made on their behalf. While a well-planned intervention should not feel like an attack, it can still be an emotional experience for that person. Objections should be expected and family members and friends should practice what to say ahead of time as well as go through any potential objections so that they know how to respond.

Follow Up

After the intervention is complete, the work of the family and friends is not done. Because addiction treatment involves numerous components and time, family members and friends must work with this individual to help them stay motivated to attend treatment and avoid relapse. This process may require the family to make changes in their everyday lives to help their loved one avoid destructive behaviors and potential triggers. Working with a qualified mental health professional in the intervention in the addiction process is extremely beneficial in this regard.


What to Do if Your Loved One Declines Help?

Even if the family intervention goes as smoothly as possible, there is still the possibility that the loved one does not respond to the addiction intervention and declines professional help. However, there are ways that the family can continue to encourage the loved one to receive treatment for their addiction.

Have Back-Up Plan

Firstly, it is critical to have a backup plan should the individual decline help. During the intervention, family members likely discussed the potential consequences of what would happen if the loved one declined treatment. In these circumstances, have a secondary plan and prepare for the least desirable outcome.

Particularly if the family finds they cannot control the behaviors of their loved one and there are signs of abuse, the family may need to remove themselves from the situation. Removing themselves will hopefully further encourage the loved one to receive the treatment that they need. Additionally, families and friends should continue to encourage the individual to receive treatment.

Find a Treatment Center

Finding a treatment center and exploring treatment options together may be one of the best ways for someone to receive the help that they need to overcome addiction. By presenting different options for intervention, the family can work together to explore possible solutions.



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