How to stage an intervention

Many individuals find that an intervention provides a crucial roadmap for recovery by connecting them with necessary resources and providing them with critical support as they journey down the road to healing and wellness. Ultimately, interventions can offer hope to those with addiction as they take important steps towards rebuilding their lives.

Addiction is a complex and devastating condition that can impact every part of an individual’s life. An addiction intervention is a process in which family, friends and loved ones work together to support someone struggling with addiction and encourage them to go to rehab.

Group intervention for addiction

What happens in an addiction intervention?

An addiction intervention is a structured meeting in which friends, family members and healthcare providers work together to help an individual who is battling addiction. Addiction interventions typically take place when a person’s alcohol addiction, drug addiction or behavioural addiction becomes so severe that they are no longer able to make decisions about their own health or well-being or are unable to see that they need help.

In an addiction intervention, the goal is to help the individual realise the need for comprehensive treatment and motivate them to accept it. This may involve providing education about the potential consequences of their drug or alcohol use and helping them understand how their substance abuse is impacting those around them. An addiction intervention can be a highly effective way for loved ones to play an active role in helping someone get the treatment they need.

The four types of addiction interventions

There are four main types of intervention and which one you use depends on the severity of the individual’s condition and the main goals you want to achieve.

The simple intervention

The first type is a simple intervention which is straightforward and typically involves one key person confronting the individual directly about their substance use. This approach allows you to avoid staging a large gathering and can be effective when dealing with sensitive cases.

The classical intervention

Another approach is a classical or confrontational intervention which aims to motivate individuals to change their behaviour through pressure from loved ones. Typically family members each will write a letter to the addicted individual and read it out loud during a meeting. While this type of intervention has proven to be effective, it often works better in cases where a softer approach has already been tried and failed.

The system intervention

The third type of intervention is the system intervention, which utilises family group healing to help motivate the addicted individual towards treatment. By forming a “united front” and providing support and guidance, family system interventions often have greater success rates than simple or classical approaches alone. Additionally, they are sometimes seen as more compassionate due to their focus on helping the whole family rather than confronting individuals who struggle with substance abuse.

The crisis intervention

Finally, crisis interventions are often needed in particularly critical situations where immediate medical attention may be required. As such, these interventions might include contacting emergency services and arranging for transport to a hospital or treatment centre for rapid detoxification or stabilisation before further treatment can be offered.

Ultimately, determining which technique will work best depends on various factors such as the severity of addiction and interpersonal dynamics within the individual’s family or social network. However, regardless of type, all substance use interventions are designed to help people facing addiction take steps toward healing and long-term recovery from addiction.

Preparing for an addiction intervention

Admission documents

One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with addiction is planning and executing an effective intervention. There are several important factors to consider when it comes to preparing for an addiction intervention.

First and foremost, you will need to do some planning ahead of time in order to ensure that the intervention goes as smoothly as possible. This may include contacting a professional interventionist who can support you throughout the process. Sanctuary Lodge works closely with third party resources and can put you in contact with an intervention specialist if you need help navigating this process.

It is also important to think about who you will be inviting to participate in the intervention – this could be close family and friends who have been affected by the individual’s addiction. They should be briefed beforehand and should be on board with your plan.

When it comes to meeting with your loved one suffering from addiction, it is time to share your concerns in a supportive and understanding way. It is often helpful to have everything written down so that you know exactly what you’re going to say during the meeting.

Finally, after this emotional time, it is beneficial to have your own support network of friends and family available to support you. You may even schedule some time to talk to a professional therapist or counsellor and should take some time to participate in self-care activities like exercise, meditation or enjoyable hobbies.

Addiction intervention: dos and don’ts

When dealing with a loved one with addiction, it is important to approach the situation in a thoughtful and proactive manner. As with any difficult situation, there are certain dos and don’ts that should be considered when planning an intervention.


  • Carefully think through your approach and plan ahead.
  • Remain calm and compassionate towards your loved one.
  • Try to understand the challenges that your loved one faces.
  • Stay firm in your stance and set boundaries.
  • Listen and communicate clearly.
  • Reach out for guidance and support from professional resources such as an intervention specialist.


  • Make judgements or pass blame on your loved one, as this will only escalate tensions and further complicate things.
  • Enable the addiction by making excuses for your loved one, covering up for them or downplaying their behaviour.
  • Improvise or go off-script – this can lead to emotions escalating. Instead, stick to your prepared material.
  • Invite anyone that may trigger your loved one, such as someone with an addiction or someone that may argue with them.

At the end of the day, regardless of what steps you choose to take or what challenges you face, it is crucial to always keep your primary focus on supporting the health and well-being of your loved one above all else. With compassion, understanding and perseverance, it is possible not only to successfully intervene in your loved one’s struggle with addiction but also begin working towards healing and recovery together as a family.

The benefits of addiction interventions

Group intervention session

Addiction interventions are a crucial tool in the fight against substance abuse and addiction. These targeted interventions help to support individuals who may be struggling with addiction and provide them with the support and treatment options they need.

Some of the benefits of addiction interventions include:

  • Brings together loved ones who can offer encouragement
  • Empowers the individual to make healthier choices
  • Provides a safe space for open and honest communication
  • Allows the individual to recognise the harmful effects of their behaviour
  • Kick-starts the recovery process

Ultimately, addiction interventions give people the hope and resources they need to achieve long-term sobriety and wellness, as well as let them know their family and friends love and support them.

What happens after an addiction intervention?

When an addiction intervention is performed, the aim is usually to help the individual with addiction gain access to an effective treatment programme. Once an addiction intervention has been completed, there are a number of steps that may be taken depending on the individual’s needs and situation.

Depending on the severity of the individual’s addiction and their level of cooperation, this could mean escorting them directly to a rehab facility, or alternatively providing them with resources to find a programme that works for them.

Ultimately, whether or not an intervention is successful depends on a variety of factors such as the nature and severity of the person’s addiction, their personal history and their existing support system. While there is no guarantee that an intervention will work for everyone, it remains a highly effective option for many people battling addiction.

Next steps

Addiction interventions are a powerful way to help addicted individuals and their loved ones come to terms with the underlying causes of addiction and get the help they need. By bringing together family members and friends in a supportive, empathetic environment, addiction interventions can provide valuable insight into patterns of behaviour that may perpetuate addictive behaviour.

Ultimately, understanding the root causes of addiction and developing effective strategies for overcoming it are essential steps on the road to recovery. With the support of loved ones, individuals struggling with addiction can overcome this challenging obstacle and reclaim their lives.

Frequently asked questions

Who should be part of an addiction intervention?
Family members and loved ones are key components of any intervention. These individuals can provide support and understanding, as well as feedback and guidance on next steps once the initial intervention has been completed. It may also be beneficial to include any close friends or colleagues of the person struggling with addiction. They should feel comfortable speaking openly about their concerns for the individual’s well-being, and may have unique insights about their behaviour and mindset that could be helpful during treatment planning.
How should I stage an intervention for addiction?
Where you choose to hold the intervention and what environment you select can have a major impact on the success of your efforts. It may be beneficial to hold the intervention in a space that is comfortable for the person struggling with addiction, such as their home or another private location. If the person experiencing addiction does not feel comfortable or safe, they may become defensive and less receptive to your concerns. You should also try to choose a time when your loved one is not intoxicated so that they can truly listen and respond accordingly.
Would an intervention for alcohol abuse be different from intervention for drug addiction?
The specific circumstances and needs of those dealing with alcohol and drug addiction can vary widely from person to person. While the basis of addiction interventions will be the same, you may find that those struggling with an alcohol addiction face challenges surrounding the social normalcy of drinking in our society. In contrast, interventions focused specifically on substances such as heroin or cocaine may have fewer obstacles in terms of helping individuals understand the harmful nature of their habit.

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