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Guide to Staging an Intervention

Watching a loved one spiral into addiction can be incredibly difficult. In many cases, loved ones may look for an opportunity to step in and discuss those rising challenges with the addict, convincing them to start to heal from that addiction. An intervention can allow family members and friends to express their feelings and worries honestly in a safe environment.


Watching a loved one spiral into addiction can be incredibly difficult. In many cases, loved ones may look for an opportunity to step in and discuss those rising challenges with the addict, convincing them to start to heal from that addiction. An intervention can allow family members and friends to express their feelings and worries honestly in a safe environment.

What is an intervention?

An intervention is an opportunity for the friends and family members of a loved one suffering from addiction to discuss the addiction and its possible consequences. Often, an intervention is conducted under the oversight of a trained professional. An intervention may lay out the dangerous behaviors observed by friends and family members, including specific consequences of the addictive behaviors and what actions friends and family members might take if the individual continues with the addictive behaviors.

When is an Intervention Necessary?

A number of addictive behaviors may lead to the need for an intervention, including:

When someone is considering being admitted into a certified rehabilitation facility to treat a drug or alcohol addiction, it is crucial to understand that the treatment center that is best suitable for your specific circumstances may not be local. Some of the benefits that come from someone traveling to a beautiful place such as Southern California to receive treatment may be:

1. A loved one is engaging in dangerous or destructive behavior.

People will often notice addiction because of the dangerous behaviors that may accompany it. For example, loved ones may notice that their friend or family member started to experience significant financial struggles because of money spent on the addiction or that they are struggling to keep up with tasks at work because of the addiction. Loved ones may decide to stage an intervention because the addict’s behavior has started to deteriorate significantly, especially as the addiction becomes more significant.

2. A loved one denies the addiction or that it is a problem.

In one-on-one conversations with the addict, they may tell you they do not feel like they have a problem. Concerned loved ones might hear statements like, “I can stop any time,” or, “It’s not really a problem.” The addict might even insist that they like it. If they continually deny the addiction or that the addiction is a problem, it may be time to stage an intervention.

3. A loved one will not pursue addiction treatment, despite clear problems.

Even if the addict acknowledges that the addiction is a problem, they might not agree to pursue treatment for that addiction. Loved ones may have tried to arrange for treatment in the past, including helping the addict check into a treatment facility, but the addict might refuse to get the treatment needed for that addiction.

4. A loved one's physical health starts deteriorating because of the addiction.

Addiction can cause a number of damaging health impacts, including significant weight loss, heart problems, and an increased risk of cancer or stroke. If loved ones have noticed the addict’s health starting to deteriorate, they may need to stage an intervention to prevent the addict from causing further, potentially long-term damage to their health.

5. Friends and family can no longer support the addict because of the continuing addiction.

In many cases, there may come a point where loved ones can no longer support the addict or stay involved in their life if the addiction continues. Addiction can become an immense problem, not just for the addict, but for the entire family. Loved ones may also discover that other family members have also reached the end of their rope and can no longer provide the support the addict needs. When the family can no longer provide that support, the members may need to come together and stage an intervention.

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Preparing for the Intervention

Before approaching a family member about drug addiction, loved ones need to have a plan to handle the upcoming conversation. There are several things people may need to cover during the conversation.

Keep in mind that it can take substantial time to plan for effective intervention. Loved ones do not want to conduct an intervention with no prior warning or planning. Instead, take the time to plan it out with everyone involved in the process.

1. Identify the destructive behaviors.

There are a number of potential problems that your family or friends may have identified. Take the time to sit down together and discuss the destructive behaviors you have identified. 

Clearly discuss and identify any concerning problems together. Loved ones may have identified similar problems from different perspectives. Discussing them together can create a comprehensive plan to present them to your loved one.

As you’re discussing the destructive behaviors the addict struggles with, take some time to discuss how that addiction has impacted your family. Often, an addict’s behaviors can substantially impact the entire family. The addict, however, may not realize the full extent of those damages: the financial damages, the emotional challenges faced by the family, and the impact to your time and energy.

2. Identify the addiction, if you can.

Sometimes, you may have a solid idea of what type of addiction your loved one suffers from. For example, you might know that your loved one drinks throughout the day, or that your loved one relies on prescription pain medications. In other cases, however, you may not be sure what your loved one uses. 

Look at the signs of addiction or specific drug or alcohol use types and what your loved one likely has access to. Take a look at what drugs are most readily available in the local area, or evaluate the behaviors your loved one has engaged in and how they likely apply to a specific type of addiction.

3. Look into available treatment options.

In most cases, working with a qualified treatment center is one of the most effective ways to fight addiction and increase the odds that your loved one will manage to beat the addiction. 

Before staging an intervention, take a look at available treatment options. Consider what options are available in your area: local treatment centers, for example. Take a look at the types of treatment those centers offer. 

Look for treatment centers that can provide the person struggling with comprehensive support at each stage of the process. Loved one’s may want to look for a center that can offer medication-assisted withdrawal programs, which can help decrease withdrawal symptoms and make it easier to detox from drugs and alcohol. Then, they may want to look for a center that provides ongoing support even after the addict leaves an inpatient program. 

Addiction can be a difficult thing to heal from, and the road to recovery can be a long one. Having a treatment center that will continue to support the addict can make the odds of a successful outcome more likely. 

In addition, as loved ones are considering treatment options, consider whether the facility will provide family support as well as support for the addict. In many cases, family members can also benefit heavily from support as the addiction is resolved. 

Once loved ones have identified potential treatment options, decide on the one that best fits the situation’s needs. Keep in mind that loved ones will need to be prepared to move quickly after the intervention and plan treatment accordingly.

4. Discuss what support the family or friends are willing to offer.

As loved ones consider the treatment options available to the struggling person, consider what support the group can offer the addict. Loved ones may want to offer rides to meetings, or financial support for the addict as they go through rehabilitation. Be clear about what support the family can actually offer and who is willing to take on specific tasks or elements. 

Loved ones may need to arrange childcare for minor children or help with tasks at home while the addict handles the rehabilitation process. Consider what support can be offered to the closest family members, like a spouse, children, or parents, while the addict is in recovery.

5. Discuss what the group will withdraw if the behavior doesn't stop.

In many cases, an intervention occurs because the family, as a whole, is at the end of their rope. Loved ones may no longer want to provide support to an addict. If loved ones have struggled with theft, they may not want to allow the addict in your home any longer. 

Loved ones may wish to withdraw financial support.

Loved ones may withdraw help or relationship with the addict.

Some people may need to remove themselves from the addict entirely in order to ensure that they can protect themselves in light of the addictive behavior.

Keep in mind that when loved ones make statements about what will happen if the addict’s behavior does not change, they cannot make idle threats. They must be willing to take actual action, including cutting the addict off if necessary.

6. Decide who will be present for the intervention.

During an intervention, loved ones may want to have several family members or friends present to help lay down the seriousness of the conversation. At the same time, however, they may not need the entire family to be present. 

Here are some important factors to consider:

Loved ones may also want to consider whether they want the intervention to be overseen by a professional, making it easier to keep the conversation calm.

7. Discuss the specifics.

During the intervention, loved ones may want to bring up specific behaviors and problems. However, loved ones should avoid berating the addict. They may want to choose specific instances to focus on. 

Keep in mind that due to drug or alcohol addiction, the addict’s brain chemistry might change so that they fail to notice the impact their behaviors have had on others around them. They may have a hard time, for example, realizing how much they have let others down or become a danger to themselves and others. Loved ones may need to clearly and carefully lay out those problems to them in a way that they will understand.

It can be helpful to rehearse the conversation with an intervention specialist to ensure that information is presented in a way that is likely to have the greatest impact without tearing the addict down, which could prevent them from taking the conversation seriously and moving forward.

8. Choose a safe location.

Friends and family members may want to work with an intervention specialist to choose a safe time and place for the intervention. They may want to choose a location that will prevent the addict from feeling attacked and make them feel safe. At the same time, however, loved ones may want to choose a location where they have help available if needed since they cannot predict how the addict will react to the conversation.

During the Intervention

As loved ones stage the intervention, there are several tips they may want to keep in mind.

1. Be prepared for objections.

It’s rare for someone to immediately admit that they have a problem due to an intervention. Generally, an addict will offer excuses about why they should not have to quit, do not have a problem, or otherwise have no reason to worry about the addiction. Make sure to prepare to handle those objections.

2. Try to keep things calm.

Interventions can feel very emotional for everyone involved. However, concerned loved ones want to do their best to keep the conversation as calm as possible. Loved ones may be able to keep things calm more easily by appointing a primary speaker in the best position to maintain calm throughout the conversation.

3. Keep things on track during the conversation.

Do not allow the conversation to be derailed with other problems or discussions. Remember, this is not an opportunity for family and friends to air every grievance they may have ever had with the addict. Instead, keep focused on the addiction and the problems that have arisen from it.

4. Ask your loved one to make a decision immediately.

Often, the addict will want some time to think about treatment options. However, loved ones should already have chosen the treatment option that makes the most sense based on the identified addiction and available resources. Loved ones do not want to give the addict time to think of more excuses or to get out of moving toward treatment. Instead, press them for an immediate decision.

5. Be prepared to immediately implement your plan.

If loved ones need an immediate decision from the addict, they must be equally prepared to implement their action plan. Get the addict to a treatment facility as soon as possible, and implement the rest of the plan.

We Can Help

A key part of staging an intervention is identifying the right treatment facility for your loved one’s addiction. Finding the best treatment facility for a loved one can be overwhelming. Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center can help. We are here to provide addicts and their families with the support they need to recover. 

Contact us today to learn more about our available resources.


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