A Helping Hand: Tips for Staging an Addiction Intervention for a Loved One

Last Updated: Sep 21st 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

90% of people suffering from drug addiction never get the help they need. A well planned out addiction intervention can change this. 

If you have a loved one suffering from substance abuse, you can be the support they are looking for. An intervention can prove to the one you hold close, that you care, and you’re here to listen. 

But, confronting someone with an addiction can be difficult, and without the proper guidance, someone you love might fall back into addiction.  

If you’re someone planning to arrange an intervention, here are some tips to ensure everything goes well. 

Avoid Triggers

A trigger is anything that recreates feelings in an addict that cause them to use again. This can be anything from a mug to a table, but usually physical spaces can cause an addict to feel the urge to use a substance. 

Drug specialists have attempted breaking the drug-using association to objects for addicts before, and more often than not, repeated exposure can help. 

But, if you’re staging an intervention, you want to avoid any location that contains triggers for your loved one. This means picking a space that is safe, and devoid of any reminders of their substance abuse, such as needles, lighters, or bottles. 

When you’re holding an intervention you must be certain to create a space that feels safe and non-triggering. This can involve cleaning the couch covers, keeping the scented candle lit, or even keeping the family pet around. 

Determine Who Speaks First and Rehearse 

An intervention can be an emotional moment for an addict and their loved ones. It’s important that you make sure everyone is composed and ready to speak. When you first sit down to practice the intervention, be sure to decide who talks first and that they know what they wish to say. 

You may want to structure the conversation in order of trust. An addict may be unresponsive or even angry if the first person they hear from is a complete stranger or an addictions counselor. 

To avoid this from happening, pick someone close to the person, and allow them to speak first. This will allow the addict to feel safe and will increase their trust in the meeting. 

Have More Than One Plan 

If you bring up the topic of addiction treatment, there’s a good chance an addict might act defensively, or leave the room. Plan for this to happen in advance. 

It’s important to understand that if your loved one is in the throes of addiction, they don’t want help, and may not think their substance abuse is a problem. 

If you are not able to properly talk to your loved one during an intervention, make a plan as a group, that you will either reconvene or wait patiently. This ensures that the intervention does not fall apart. 

Make Sure Everyone Involved Understands the Addiction

It may be difficult to convince your family or group of friends to confront someone they love, but it’s important everyone is on the same page. One way to do this is to make sure all parties involved have a full understanding of the person that’s being intervened, and of their addiction. 

For instance, if a person you love is addicted to heroin, some members may not understand the relationship between the symptoms of heroin addiction and addicts behavior. 

It’s important that if you’re making a drug intervention, that nobody blames an addict for reasons they don’t fully understand. That increases the chances a loved one will react poorly to the meeting. 

Reach Out to an Addiction Intervention Expert 

Regardless of how much you’ve planned, an experienced rehab clinician or drug counselor can act as a helpful consultant. 

If you reach out to a consultant, it may be best to avoid bringing them to the intervention. A consultant should educate you, not come in the way of the intervention. This could happen if your loved one is being confronted by someone they aren’t familiar with. 

That being the case, treat each member of the intervention as a someone with a role. A consultants role is specifically to help you and your family gain insights into an addicts behavior, and the proper way to conduct an intervention. 

List Consequences and Follow Through

If you’ve been living with an addict, or are close to one, there’s a chance their behavior has cost you emotional energy. It’s essential that you communicate this to an addict without attacking them. 

When you’re planning what you wish to say, include the consequences if they refuse to go to rehab. Make a list of consequences that all members of the intervention agree with. 

Once you’ve shared these with your loved one, be sure everyone involved follows through with their list. By doing this, it proves to an addict that you’re serious and change is expected. 

Pick a Rehab Facility Ahead of Time 

Ideally, this process should be planned out from beginning to end, allowing a willing addict to attend rehab and undergo proper treatment. 

Before you’ve finished planning the intervention itself, find a fitting rehab center that is comfortable, and affordable. Why is this useful? 

By choosing a rehab center right away, an addict immediately has somewhere to go, and there is no wait time between the end of intervention and treatment. This closes the window of opportunity for your loved one to use again. 

The Next Step for Your Loved One

Arranging an addiction intervention can be scary. As long as you have close friends you trust, and a safe rehab center you can rely on, everything will be okay. 

If you’re interested in changing an addicts life for the better, you can be a great influence by holding an intervention that is calm and calculated. But, most importantly, it’s your job to find a rehab center that you can depend on. 

Be the change in the lives of those you love most, plan out an intervention with these tips, doing more research, and finding the proper treatment for the person who needs it most.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.