Steps For Drug and Alcohol Intervention


What is Intervention and how can it help?

Intervention is a structured process that helps individuals who are in denial about their addiction realize that they have a problem and need to get treatment before the addiction gets out of control. Intervention is not confrontation but a face-to-face meeting with family members, friends, and employers for the addict to accept help towards treatment. A strategy should be in place, so the individual goes directly to a treatment facility following the intervention if he or she accepts help.

How does a addiction specialist help?

An addiction specialist (interventionist, drug counselor, social worker, psychologist, or a psychiatrist) will take into account all the conditions surrounding the drug or alcohol user, and be able to provide guidance for a treatment plan. The addiction specialist will be able to organize an effective strategy and determine who should be invited to participate in the intervention (spouses, parents, siblings, friends) to have the highest chance at success. An intervention professional is recommended if any of the following

  • History of violence
  • History of serious mental illness
  • Suicidal behaviour or recently talked about suicide
  • Possible use of several mood-altering substances

Intervention commonly includes these following steps:

1. Create a plan. Do not let your loved one know what you're doing until the day of the intervention. A family member or friend recommends an intervention and creates a planning group. It's helpful to consult with a qualified addiction professional counselor, a mental health counselor, a psychologist, a social worker, or an interventionist to help you organize a successful intervention. An intervention is a highly emotional situation with the potential to cause violence, anger, or a sense of disloyalty.

2. Conduct Research. Be able to come to the meeting with realistic options for rehab or treatment programs. Make arrangements ahead of time, so your loved one gets the specific treatment program for his or her addiction.

3. Decide who should be there. Decide who is going to be involved in the intervention. The members set a location and date that works together to present a consistent, rehearsed message and a structured plan. Often, the non-family members of the group help keep the discussion centered on the facts of the problem and not on the strong emotional responses.

4. Decide on consequences. Before going to the intervention, plan for consequences if the loved one does not accept treatment. For example, you may decide that the loved one needs to move out immediately. Each person needs to stick with his or her consequence to help the intervention.

5. Write down what you want to say. Writing down exactly what you'll say will help you communicate everything you need to and stay focused. Each member describes specific times when the addiction has caused issues for you or others. This may include financial, emotional, or physical issues. Also, include how worried you are and how much you care for your loved one. Explain to the loved one that his or her behavior is unacceptable, and you see treatment as the answer.

6. Without revealing the reason, have someone invite the addict to the intervention meeting place. Make sure everyone is present to share what they've written down about their feelings and concerns. Go over the treatment plan and ask the addict to accept them. If the addict does not accept the treatment plan, then everyone should share the consequences that they decided on beforehand.

It is important that the right people are involved in order to have a successful intervention that is planned carefully to work as intended. A poorly planned intervention can make the situation worse, and the addict may feel ganged up on, criticized, or threatened, which may lead the addict to get angry or defensive, allowing him or her to withdraw even more.