Most people struggling with alcohol and drug abuse don’t respond well to suggestions that they have a problem, let alone being open to attending alcohol and drug treatment. Trying to talk to them one-on-one is often met with resistance and hostility. Planning a structured intervention with family and friends can force addicts to confront the seriousness of the situation. At the same time, they get to feel the undeniable love and support you have for them. The goal of an intervention is to get the addicted individual to agree to go to a rehab facility. The rest of this article will help you decide whether or not an intervention is warranted and help outline a game plan for executing a successful intervention.

1. Don’t Wait Until They Hit Rock Bottom

For drug addicts and alcoholics, rock bottom can mean death. It’s never a convenient time to bring family and friends together for the purpose of convincing a loved one to seek treatment. The truth is that the alternative could mean the end of the addicts life. Alcohol overdose can happen at any point. Even if, to your knowledge, the addict doesn’t take hard drugs, it only takes one time experimenting with prescription drugs to result in an overdose or death, especially when mixed with alcohol.

2. Your Love and Compassion Could Be Enabling Them

Parents can have a difficult time admitting that the health and safety of their son or daughter are out of their control. Others are open to help, but the immense love they have for their child prevents them from giving them the “tough love” that can save their child’s life. In the dire situation of addiction, a well-planned intervention may be the only kind of love they need. It’s okay to relinquish control in order to save your child’s life, and in many cases, it’s the only way to do so.

3. How To Tell If Your Loved One Is An Addict Or Simply A Frequent User

A change in lifestyle patterns is the easiest way to tell that someone is more than just a regular user. We all have habits, some healthy, others not. If someone exercises three to five days a week, does that make them addicted to exercise? You can see in this situation how frequency doesn’t necessarily correlate to addiction. The same can be true for drug and alcohol use. The giveaway is when other aspects of a person’s personality, habits, or ability to manage relationships changes over time. When increased drug and alcohol use is paired with negative lifestyle changes, addiction is more likely to be part of the problem.

4. Selecting Your Intervention Team

Not everyone in your family or the addict’s friend group are good candidates for your intervention team. Family and friends that are practicing addicts are out of the question. Their presence would be too hypocritical and provide the addict with an easy out during the intervention. Every person at the intervention should be someone who cares deeply about the addict. The power of a planned intervention comes from exposing the addict to the negative emotional impact that their drug and alcohol use has had on the people who love them. Participants need to be able to look at the addict dead in the eyes and lay their emotions on the table.

5. Remember That When You Talk To An Addict, You’re Talking To A Brain In Addiction

Addicts can cause a lot of pain and emotional suffering that reverberates through the whole family. When a family member is struggling with addiction it can be very hard for the people who care about them. It’s important to keep in mind that when you confront someone who’s deep in addiction, you aren’t simply talking to the son, brother, or mother you once knew. You’re talking to a brain that’s been hijacked by addiction. The person you love is in there and hears you, but addiction is like a virus that does whatever it needs to keep its host. Addicts can be master manipulators even if they were once the embodiment of honesty. Don’t take offense if they get defensive or even aggressive during the intervention. The source of their hostility is the addiction expressing itself.

6. What To Say And How To Say It

Confront the addict with facts about their behavior and follow each one with how it made you feel. As each person at the intervention takes turns talking, this format makes it easy for the addict to connect their actions to the sadness they’ve caused. Often addicts care little about their own life, and it’s easy for them to turn a blind eye to the suffering that they cause themselves. The intervention can open their eyes to how their actions have affected loved ones. This can be the tipping point that convinces them to seek help. For some addicts, an inpatient treatment program isn’t always necessary. An outpatient program like Stonewall Institute’s 10-week Intensive Outpatient Program allows addicts the opportunity to go through treatment without disrupting income or family life.

7. What Not To Say During The Intervention

Avoid opening room for argument by focusing on indisputable facts. Addicts love a good argument because it gives them an opportunity to talk their way out of the intervention. Don’t be coercive. The point of an intervention is to let the evidence and your feelings speak for themselves. State the facts and let the addict respond once everyone is finished. Trying to be convincing communicates that there are flaws to be found in your argument. You should also avoid hurtful or angry language or try to make the addict feel ashamed for what they’ve done.

8. Pick The Right Location

Expect a lot of emotion to be spilled at the intervention. You should choose a location where everyone feels comfortable crying and expressing themselves without much filtration. The living room of a house that everyone is familiar with is an ideal setting. A restaurant or public park is not.

Remember to express love. Never chastise and never shame. Pick a group of people who care about the addict deeply and can share their true emotions with compassion. A recovery program is an opportunity for positive growth, not a punishment for being bad. The way you frame it will make or break the intervention. The addict is free to leave at any time. Treat them with kindness and respect and let your love do the talking. If someone you love is struggling with addiction and is in need of intervention, feel free to contact Stonewall Institute Treatment Center at 602-535-6468 or email us at