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6 Steps for a Successful Intervention

Effective Techniques for Convincing Loved Ones to Seek Help

An intervention is a way for family and friends to encourage a loved one to seek addiction help: it’s a way of breaking through the walls of denial, showing that you care.

An intervention aims to convince or encourage a loved one to seek treatment, and there are proven methods you can use to accomplish this. There are also specific strategies that you should avoid if you want your intervention to be successful and if you want your loved one to be receptive to the message you’re offering.


1. Include Trusted Loved Ones and Friends
For an intervention to be effective, it must include friends and family that a loved one cares about and trusts. If the message comes from acquaintances instead of close loved ones, the intervention won’t be impactful and may be less successful overall.

2. Go in With a Plan
Participants must present their loved ones with a unified front to host a successful intervention. They have the same goal, so they should all have the same message. Before the intervention, get together with all the key people involved to plan a time and date and rehearse what everyone will say. It’s recommended for participants to take detailed notes to stay on track during the intervention.

3. Focus on Solutions
Two points need to be driven home at an intervention: the destructive behavior and its solution. So while the people involved must share how the substance use is affecting them (using “I” statements, such as “I feel scared”), it’s equally important to remain focused on solutions to the problem that’s brought everyone together.

4. Lay Out Consequences
Once a treatment solution is proposed, participants should also follow up with the consequences their loved ones will face if they don’t agree to treatment. These will be personal consequences enacted by all involved, and each person needs to state what those will be. Just make sure to avoid idle threats, which aren’t serious, productive, or effective. However, there may be situations when a legal matter will be resolved with treatment.

5. Avoid Conflict
Be prepared for a loved one to react with anger and perhaps even hostility. One can still help mitigate these negative reactions by avoiding accusations, blame, and judgment and keeping the attention focused on solutions. Moreover, a loved one may deny that there’s a problem, those involved should be ready with possible answers to their opposition.

6. Be Ready With Treatment Recommendations
Ideally, the intervention will end with a loved one agreeing to treatment, be prepared with possible programs and centers. Talk to a doctor, mental health expert, or addiction specialist before the intervention and have a few treatment options picked out already. Have transportation ready and a bag packed to immediately get a loved one into a treatment facility.

Addiction is an ugly reality, and there may be a time when a loved one needs your help to see this. Interventions remind people that they are loved and help people see their problematic behavior from a new perspective, and when they’re successful, interventions can even save lives.

A successful intervention depends on proper planning, presenting a cohesive message and viable solutions, and helping your loved one see the pain and suffering that the problem behavior is causing. If you need more information about helping a loved one through an addiction, call 800-208-9273 today.