How Do Drug and Alcohol Addiction Interventions Work?

drug and alcohol interventions

If you love someone who lives with addiction, you likely understand the frustration, worry, anger, guilt, and other complex emotions surrounding the condition. If your loved one needs to go to treatment but refuses it, you may be considering an intervention. 

An intervention can be an effective way to convince an addicted loved one to seek treatment. But what can you do to stage an effective intervention?

Understanding how an intervention works, how to plan one, and what to avoid may help you stage a successful intervention. For more information or support, contact the Moving Mountains Recovery specialists today. 

What Happens During an Intervention

An intervention is a planned event where friends and family gather to convince an addicted loved one to seek immediate addiction treatment. During the intervention, the addicted person’s loved ones may speak about the impact of their addiction and offer to help them start treatment that day. 

An intervention can be a highly emotional event. Family members and friends may have strong feelings about their loved one’s substance abuse. Feelings of worry, anger, guilt, or frustration may spill over into the intervention. But it is important to stay focused on supporting and helping the addicted person. Planning and practicing an intervention can help keep it focused and more likely to be effective. 

Planning Drug and Alcohol Interventions

An effective intervention must be planned in advance. There are several steps you can take to prepare for your intervention.

1. Write it down

Write down anything you want to say and practice reading it out loud. This will help you choose your words carefully and stay calm during the intervention. 

2. Choose the time and location

A good intervention is short and sweet, but you will need enough time for everyone to speak. Ensure that you have the time and privacy you need. Select a timeframe when your loved one is least likely to be intoxicated.

3. Do your homework

Learn as much as you can about addiction, recovery, and appropriate treatment options. 

4. Follow-through

Be ready to help your loved one start treatment immediately after the intervention. If they refuse to go to treatment, be prepared to hold your boundaries and follow through on any consequences you promised. 

While preparing for an intervention, be sure to practice good self-care. Find the support you need to help you navigate your own needs and emotions while supporting your loved one.

Things To Avoid During an Intervention

An intervention is more likely to work if the addicted person feels loved and supported–not blamed or shamed. Conveying your love and concern while setting clear, firm boundaries can be challenging. While planning and preparation can give your intervention the best chance of success, some common missteps can derail the intervention. These are some of the most common mistakes people make during an intervention.

1. Having Too Many People Involved

It is essential to choose who will be there carefully. Limit attendance to close friends and family members. Consider excluding anyone currently struggling with addiction or people unable to participate in the planning and practice. 

While it is important to have a strong show of love and support, having too many people means more opportunities for intense emotions or inadequate preparation.

2. Letting Emotions Take Over

At times, people’s anger about their loved one’s addiction can come out during an intervention. Strong emotions may cause the addicted person to withdraw or refuse treatment.

To be effective, an intervention must be calm and supportive. Anger, frustration, or anxiety can make this impossible. Intense emotions may cause the addicted person to react defensively.  

So, how can you stay on track when your emotions run high? Prepare, plan, and get the support you need to keep your own feelings in check. All the other people involved in the intervention must do the same.

For the best chance at success, consider hiring a professional interventionist. A trained intervention specialist can help you and your family plan and prepare for a successful intervention. They will offer support and guidance before, during, and after the intervention.

3. Withdrawing Your Support After the Intervention

Addiction can never be truly cured. Instead, people must seek treatment and then take steps to manage their addiction for the rest of their life. An intervention is just the first step in supporting your loved one’s recovery. 

Whether your loved one accepts your offer of treatment or refuses, they will need emotional and practical support. While considering healthy boundaries, you may offer continuing support in various ways, including: 

  • Reminding your loved one why they chose recovery
  • Helping with child or pet care while they go through treatment
  • Offering rides to appointments
  • Helping to schedule appointments with doctors, addiction specialists, or counselors
  • Attending family therapy, if appropriate
  • Helping to navigate insurance and payment plans
  • Offering non-judgmental support
  • Saying you love and believe in them often

Interventions can help people get started in treatment, but it is only the first step in a life-changing journey. The support of friends and family is invaluable to people living with addiction.

Do Addiction Interventions Work?

It is difficult to measure the exact success rate of interventions because, at times, people who initially refuse treatment seek help later. Research conducted by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) suggests that up to 90% of interventions result in an addicted person seeking treatment.[1] 

Research suggests that only about 11% of all people living with substance abuse or addiction ever get the help they need to recover.[2] Without intervention, your loved one’s chances of seeking addiction treatment are low. A carefully planned intervention led by a professional interventionist may convince your loved one to seek the life-saving treatment they require.

Get Help Now

Reach out to the Moving Mountains Recovery specialists today for more information about staging an effective intervention or finding support in recovery. 



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