Drug addiction is an extremely destructive force, inflicting physical, mental, and emotional harm on everyone involved. If one of your friends or loved ones is struggling with addiction, it may be time for an intervention.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is an organized process in which friends and family members of an addicted person confront them about their addiction problem. The primary purpose of the meeting is to help the addicted person see how their behavior is harmful, agree to change their behavior, and ultimately, enroll in a treatment program.1

There are several different addiction intervention techniques, and some are more confrontational than others. Ideally, your intervention approach will be well-suited to the personality and behaviors of the addicted person.2

1. Do your research so you fully understand what an intervention is.

Before you can host an effective intervention, it’s essential to have a genuine understanding of what an intervention is, as well as what it isn’t. For example, an effective intervention is not a spur-of-the-moment discussion. It is a well-planned meeting that is conducted in a loving environment. An intervention should not leave a family divided. It should be encouraging in nature and avoid attacking or condemning the addicted individual. Once you understand this, you can go about planning in an effective way.

2. Plan, plan, plan.

One of the most important parts of the intervention process is the planning. Since an intervention is such an emotionally charged event, it’s extremely important to host it in a way that does not create feelings of resentment or betrayal. One great way to plan for an intervention is to write out a script of exactly what you will say. Your script could include the various ways in which the person’s drug addict has hurt you, a few options for treatment, and specific boundaries and consequences you will implement if the person does not choose to make a change. The Mayo Clinic also recommends consulting with a professional therapist, counselor, or social worker before hosting the intervention.2

3. Be wise about who you choose to involve.

Most interventions involve the people who are most affected by the person’s addiction. This typically includes a spouse, partner, other close family members, and close friends. It’s wise not to include individuals who are emotionally unstable or are only interested in starting drama instead of helping.  This may seem cold but try to keep things in perspective. Consider what is best for the addicted person in the long run.

4. Make sure the timing is right.

If the addicted person just went through a breakup, lost a job, or got a DUI, you may want to wait a few days or a week before hosting the intervention.

Approaching them about their addiction during a stressful time may send them into an emotional rampage and do more harm than good. While you don’t have to wait for the person to reach “rock bottom” to host the intervention, you should definitely be intentional about your timing.

5. Be ready to present two or three great options for addiction treatment.

So, the addicted person agreed to go to rehab. That’s great! Now what? Since the whole purpose of an intervention is to get the person to enroll in treatment, it would be wise to have several different treatment options to present to them.

Having a few options prepared will also help prevent any procrastination and eliminate excuses like “I just couldn’t find a treatment center” or “I don’t know where to look for help.”

To find appropriate treatment options, talk to your doctor, counselor, therapist, or do some digging online to see what kind of options are available and within the person’s financial means.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help.

Planning and hosting a successful intervention is nothing short of difficult. However, it’s very possible to use this approach to help your loved one change their life and overcome addiction.

If you’re overwhelmed by the process, aren’t sure where to start, or need some help, ask for assistance. Don’t be afraid to contact a professional interventionist, counselor, or social worker for help.

Involving an objective third party may also be the best way to ensure the intervention stays neutral and productive. Especially if the addicted person doesn’t respond as well as you had hoped.

7. Think carefully about the boundaries you will implement if the person refuses to get help.

Although many interventions are successful, there’s always a chance it won’t work. If your loved one still refuses to get help it is essential that you implement clear boundaries as a result.

For example, you may need to say something like, “Since you refuse to get help for your addiction, I will not lend you any more money.” Or, “You will have to move out of my house by the end of the month.”

Clear consequences let the addicted person know you are serious. It may be enough to motivate and encourage them to seek treatment. It may feel like you’re doing the person a disservice by setting these boundaries, but in reality, you are letting them fully experience the consequences of their addiction instead of shielding them from them.

Trying to help an addicted loved one can be an exhausting and difficult process, especially if they refuse to acknowledge their drug problem. A carefully planned intervention is an excellent tool that may help guide your loved one into treatment where they can get the help they need.


  1. https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/intervention-tips-and-guidelines
  2. https://www.briarwooddetox.com/blog/effective-intervention-techniques/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451

Kelsey Brown grew up in Chicago, IL and has always been an avid reader and writer. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Missouri State University and now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle. Kelsey is a copywriter at Nova Recovery Center, a drug and alcohol rehab center, and regularly researches and writes on topics related to the substance abuse treatment industry, including detox, rehab, sober living, and mental health issues. When she’s not writing, Kelsey prefers to spend her time outdoors, hiking, camping, and biking.