Interventions: Do's and Don'ts for When a Loved One Needs Help


The point of an intervention is to motivate an individual to seek treatment for their addiction. These can be extremely emotionally charged situations, and friends and family members are often at a loss for how to deal with a loved one suffering from a substance misuse disorder. Below are a few helpful tips to consider if an intervention is needed. 

DON’T: Stage An intervention When the Individual Is Intoxicated

Make sure that the person is sober, or as close to sober as possible. They’ll react more calmly and rationally, and will be in a better position to register what is being said. Intervention after a significant drug or alcohol-related event may also be a good idea (such as if the individual has been charged with driving under the influence) as this may provide an opportunity for the person to open up about their addiction.

DON’T: Impose Guilt And Blame

Addiction is characterised by guilt and self-loathing and no one feels worse about their actions, decisions and choices than the person in question. Even if they are not ready to admit to their problem, this is not a time to berate or belittle them. Although it is fair to talk about how their actions have affected others, the point of an intervention is to get them to agree to seek treatment 

DON’T: Choose Family Members, Friends Or Loved Ones Who Become Overly Emotional

An intervention can be a highly charged situation with the potential to cause anger, resentment or a sense of betrayal. Thus, it is important to choose the right individuals to assist. Don’t include people that the individual dislikes, or people that may become overly emotional.  

DO: Have A Plan And A Backup Plan

An intervention is a delicate situation and needs to be approached with forethought. It is important to plan what is going to be said. It may be helpful to make notes beforehand. It is also important to realise that you may be met with resistance. You will need to be prepared to manage this and have a contingency plan in place if the situation becomes volatile.

DO: Consult A Professional

An addiction professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counsellor, a social worker, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist can help you stage an effective intervention by taking into account your loved one’s particular circumstances. Although interventions often occur without one, it is preferable to include a professional as they can assist the intervention to stay on track, and  offer guidance in terms of treatment and follow-up plans. 

DO: Decide On Specific Actions

If your loved one resists the idea of treatment, it may be helpful to decide on what action to take. For example, you may decide to ask your loved one to move out or to withdraw access to shared finances. Do not negotiate. The required outcome of an intervention is for them to seek treatment. Agreeing to give them more time, more money or anything else shows them that you are willing to bargain. 

Recovery852 assists individuals and families struggling with addiction and other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Recovery852 is headed by internationally certified addiction professional Grant Sanders. He has over fifteen years of experience and over 3,000 hours of clinical experience working in addiction recovery.  He is an experienced interventionist with a degree in social science. If you are planning an intervention with a loved one, contact us today.