How To Stage An Intervention For A Loved One

How To Stage An Intervention For A Loved One

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Witnessing a loved one suffer from an addiction is an incredibly traumatic event for everyone. It’s not just the addict who’s suffering; everyone around them sees the destruction and feels powerless to help. Knowing how to stage an intervention offers everyone the opportunity to heal from the experience. Drug and alcohol interventions prove successful when performed properly. On top of that, they hold the addict accountable moving forward.

What Is An Intervention?

An intervention is a scheduled and strategized meeting among the addict and others to discuss the impact of addiction. Typically, a drug and alcohol intervention includes loved ones, family and friends, and in some cases, a trained moderator. It is structured similarly to group therapy, although most details or conversations are carefully planned in advance. Another distinguishing feature of an intervention is that usually, the central individual is unaware prior to the encounter.

What is The Goal of An Intervention?

The ultimate goal of an intervention is to get your loved one to agree to detox and treatment. Yet, it is less of a negotiation or suggestion and more of a tipping point that comes with consequences. Ideally, the individual of focus would be made aware of the suffering that their addiction is causing their loved ones. However, awareness is not the only objective. Essentially, the intention of a drug and alcohol intervention is to encourage an outcome of participation in a rehab program.

What An Intervention Is Not

An intervention is not a therapy session. It’s not the time or place to work through issues or tackle the emotional toll of wrongdoings. It is not an invitation to blame and outright shame the addict because of their addiction. Although they may feel guilt, that is not the intention of the practice.

While coming to understand how to stage an intervention, making improvements should be the central initiative. The agreement to make a change often follows being made aware of how substance abuse is negatively affecting their lives. This includes their health and safety, those who depend on them, and everyone that loves them.

A drug and alcohol intervention is not arbitrary or spontaneous. It is carefully planned and thoughtfully carried out, almost as if it was scripted. While it may not seem difficult to stay on track when planning, it can be challenging when in progress. To keep things running smoothly, many intervention hosts utilize the services of a professional interventionist.

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How to Stage an Intervention: The Steps

When it comes to learning how to stage an intervention, sticking to the guideline is almost always best. During an intervention, there will be a lot more going on in the heat of the moment. It may become emotional or even frustrating for the addict and for their loved ones. This is especially true when the addict is beginning to withdraw from shorter-acting drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine.

When planning and learning how to host an intervention, be sure to take the necessary time for each step. Even the areas that seem less imperative have a purpose that will contribute successfully overall. The only thing worse than an unsuccessful intervention is one that was hastily arranged. Go through each of the motions, and don’t be afraid to utilize addiction resources for help if you need them.

First, find support for yourself.

Although the point of a drug and alcohol intervention is to help the addict, the burden is not yours alone. Reach out to support groups, rehabs, therapists, or professionals for their input and backup. Figuring out how to do an intervention in a short time can become overwhelming. Thoughts and feelings will usually go into preparation. Be sure to take care of your own mental and emotional wellbeing, and find quality support to lean into.

Invite others to participate.

Typically, a drug and alcohol intervention includes participants who have a close relationship with the individual. This is because it’s important to ensure that there is meaning behind each person’s presence. That said, there is power in numbers. Making the individual aware of how many people they care for want to see them healthy and sober, speaks volumes. When in doubt, be sure to choose quality over quantity.

Make a plan.

While it’s important to plan around a time when your loved one is typically sober, this isn’t always predictable. Do your best, and allow time in your plan for them to sober up if needed. The planning stage is basically an outline that will be followed regarding the proceedings of the intervention. To keep things moving, it will be crucial to stick to the plan. This is often where an interventionist is most valuable. However, with or without the help of a professional, the host and all attendees need to commit to the playbook.

Get educated.

Take the time to learn as much about addiction, rehab, detox, therapy, and recovery as you possibly can. The more you understand what the individual is going through, the closer you can get to connecting with them. That emotional connection is what drives the desire to make the commitment to a better life.

Write it down.

Knowing how to stage an intervention is one thing; staying on track during one is another. No matter how much preparation is put into the drug and alcohol intervention, it won’t take much to derail it. Knowing what you are going to say in advance sounds easy enough, but when it’s showtime, it’s easy to become distracted.

Take the time to put into words how their addiction has affected you. Let them know how deeply hurt you are or how hard it is to watch them suffer. This serves to show them the gravity of their actions. Think of it as your closing argument. Being clear and specific is going to be very important in getting your point across. Every person will have a purpose to serve during a drug and alcohol intervention. Write down your feelings and concerns, and refer to these when it’s your time to talk.

Decide and discuss your personal contribution.

Usually, when inviting close friends to share in an intervention, it is with the hope of their ongoing support. This support will continue to aid the addict through their treatment and into recovery. For example, this may mean offering your help to watch their children while they attend daily or weekly meetings. For another, it could mean providing them with a ride to therapy or to the outpatient treatment center. Decide what you are capable of offering to ease the stress of what it will mean to go to rehab.

Believe it or not, little things can deter people from committing to rehab. Often, they become the excuses used to put off getting the help that they need to get sober. The easier you make the decision for the addict to get clean, the more likely they are to commit and to stick with it. This rings true once they see the length that people will go to for them to get their lives back on track.

Commit to reasonable boundaries.

It isn’t going to be easy, but you need to be realistic. You’ll need to set boundaries about what will happen if the intervention doesn’t work and they don’t agree to treatment. This means you’ll need to decide what you’re willing to do or put an end to. This will have to be more than just an empty threat to have any real effect. You’ll need to make these decisions for yourself and commit to sticking to them, even if it hurts. This is because if nothing changes for them, then they will never need to make a change.

Hold a rehearsal.

Up until the time of rehearsal, everyone will have their own expectations on how to do an intervention. Now, it’s time to get on the same page. Play it out as a group before the actual event. During the practice session, adjust what you have to say and ensure that you have a handle on it. Give everyone their set amount of time, and address any rampant or inappropriate topics. Be sure to keep the focus, and avoid egotism. Remember, the endgame is to encourage the addict to turn their life around, not to destroy their sense of value.

Be strong and sincere, and mean what you say.

The last and most important step is to stay diligent. While in rehab, the individual will need to have the incentive to remain dedicated to their recovery. Allowing yourself to become lenient could lessen their efforts toward bettering themselves. You need to remain consistent.

Even if the addict has rejected your plea to get treatment and live sober, stick to your word. If you cave, they’ll know not to take you seriously. Continue to work with your support system to promote your own well being.

The Wrong Way To Stage An Intervention

Even with the best knowledge of how to stage an intervention, things can go unforeseeably wrong. This is usually because there are so many factors to consider and many that arise suddenly. They say timing is everything, but there’s more to it than that. Here are some things that you should do your best to avoid when holding an intervention:

Using stereotypes and labels to describe the individual.

They can come off as derogatory and prompt the individual to be exceedingly defensive. Some phrases to avoid include junkie, addict, delinquent, criminal, alcoholic, etc.

Inviting too many people, or even, irrelevant ones.

Interventions are effective because they are personal, vulnerable, and raw. If unable to let their guard down, the individual will remain closed and even dismissive of the efforts.

Letting emotions get the best of you.

This alone can derail the entire program. The reality of the matter is, this is going to be an emotional event for everyone involved. Even knowing this in advance does not always guarantee that anger and resentment will not find their way in.

Attempting to hold an intervention while the addict is intoxicated.

Although it might not always be possible to catch the individual when sober, it’s the only way it will work. The only way to get around this is to wait until they’ve sobered up or are no longer high. While some substances lose their effect quickly, others such as opiates or alcohol tend to drag on. Instead of continuing despite this, reserve the time and be prepared to wait it out.

Not all of these circumstances are easy to prepare for. Even the most prepared loved ones who are learning how to do an intervention can be caught off guard. It’s okay to ask for help with something as important as the well being of someone you care about. The best way to avoid having something go wrong is to be aware that it can. Ask yourself if the intervention is based on love, honesty and support as a central focus. If not, using the knowledge of that awareness, know when it’s time to call in a specialist.

Getting A Help From A Professional Interventionist

Professionals trained on how to stage an intervention can be your biggest asset with a drug and alcohol intervention. Let’s face it: Staging an intervention by yourself is going to become overwhelming fast. Some intervention hosts need planning assistance from the very foundation, and that’s completely acceptable.

Experienced interventionalists are available and accessible through rehab services at any point in the planning. Even if you have managed to prepare the whole thing on your own, but need some help to execute it. They will be able to evaluate what type of intervention is necessary and which works best based on their experience.

When Is An Interventionist Recommended?

In really any case, an individual with experience is going to have the most to offer the situation. However, when it comes to a potential dual diagnosis, some extra help can go a long way. Addiction sometimes occurs along with other mental illnesses. This can make it even more difficult and potentially unsafe to stage an intervention on their behalf.

Underlying mental illnesses can sometimes go hand in hand with:

  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Abusive or violent behaviors
  • Unprovoked outbursts and verbal abuse
  • Episodes of depression and anxiousness
  • Aggression or self-harm

When staging an intervention for an individual that may be suffering from a dual diagnosis, an interventionist can help mediate. They can navigate through the experience, or use reinforcements if any situation escalates.

Different Types Of Interventions

Different situations require different types of interventions. To ensure that the needs of the individual are being met as best as possible, think about circumstances. Take into consideration which may apply best to the situation you and your loved one are in. This way, you can provide support while allowing for a sense of security, and still yield optimistic outcomes. Some of the various types of drug and alcohol interventions are:

Crisis Intervention

This type of intervention is one of combined efforts. Individuals in vulnerable positions and need help receive support from law enforcement. Many police officers are trained in providing specialized care in unique cases. In circumstances such as substance abuse and mental health emergencies, these professionals are trained to adjust the management of the crisis. The idea is to treat the individual as though they are in need of help instead of criminalizing them. The incentive is to provide them the opportunity to get help, instead of incarceration and getting lost in the system.

Brief Intervention

This type of intervention usually only occurs one-on-one with a professional. This usually happens following a medical emergency or in any other professional setting when substance abuse is suspected. Usually, this is to confirm suspicions or ensure the safety of an individual. Although options may be given as a means of treatment, they are not always optional in the same sense. Alternatively, the help of these professionals to perform the role of interventionist may be requested by a concerned party. These individuals and professionals may be teachers, therapists, doctors, or counselors, acting on behalf of the addicts’ loved ones.

The Johnson Model

This model focuses strictly on the addict and their willingness to commit to an intensive treatment program. Reinforcing the concern and love held for the individual offers them a sturdy foundation to lean on as received treatment. This ongoing support encourages the addict to get sober for themselves, with the reminder that they are loved and valued. This type of intervention reinforces that everyone present wants to see them do what is best for them.


SMART is an acronym for Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant; and Time-Specific. This typically pertains to gauging progress after a drug and alcohol intervention is held intimately by friends and family.  Sometimes used in substance awareness programs, SMART allows for the acknowledgment of progress, after terms of the intervention are met.

Family Systemic Intervention

This type of drug and alcohol intervention places the focus on both the addict and the family members affected. Often, this type of intervention is used when there are children, a spouse, parents or immediate family involved. These individuals, who are directly impacted by the choices of the addict, are suffering equally because of substance abuse. The goal of this type of intervention is to encourage the entire family to work together to heal their relationships. The result will be to utilize family therapy, individually and as a group, to work through their personal emotional toll.


Arise is the most contemporary intervention method as of now. It is much less abrupt than any of its counterparts, although based on the Johnson Model. Essentially, ARISE calls upon the family to get the individual involved in treatment, through encouragement as opposed to enforcing awareness.

What Makes a Successful Intervention?

The hopeful outcome of a successful intervention is getting the individual into a fulfilling program that encourages long-lasting sobriety. To ensure that the best effort is made to encourage this resolution, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Make sure the focus of the drug and alcohol intervention remains on the individual and their best interest. It can be easy to stray when emotions are involved. Keep everyone on the same page, and refer to the material planned in advance.
  2. Keep the conversation constructional and positive in nature. Addiction has a way of dragging a person down to begin with. Rehabilitation and recovery are about building them back up again. This starts with knowing how to stage an intervention to promote positive change and optimal wellbeing.
  3. When in doubt, ask for help. The individual suffering from addiction isn’t the only person that could use support when deciding how to do an intervention. Make sure you are following the first step of how to stage an intervention. Which is, get yourself supported along the way too. There is no need to do this all alone.

What If An Intervention Fails?

Remember, things might not always work out even if you do everything by the book. Essentially, it’s up to the individual to make the final call to turn things around. The best thing you can do for them is stick to your word. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on getting them into addiction treatment. If your first intervention didn’t work out, it doesn’t have to be the last one. Try again, or try a different approach. Whether they tell you or not, it means something to have someone never give up.

Rock Recovery Can Help You Find Your Way

Witnessing a loved one suffer from addiction is traumatic for everyone. A drug and alcohol intervention includes loved ones, family and friends, and in some cases, a trained moderator. The goal of an intervention is to get the addict that you love to agree to detox and treatment. Even with careful planning, nothing is guaranteed. Professionals trained on how to stage an intervention can be your biggest asset.

If you need information on how to stage an intervention for a loved one, reach out to us today. With innovative and exciting rehab programs available, you’re one step closer to getting your loved one to agree to rehab. Call today to get started.

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