The intervention process is a united, orchestrated movement by family members, friends, and loved ones to show the addict or alcoholic in their lives that they are loved and have support in the hope that the individual will seek professional help by entering a rehabilitation program. An intervention is a process that is respectful and loving, yet firm and organized at the same time. It’s a time when the addict or alcoholic is shown the severity of their use, the extent that it has affected others, by family members, friends, and colleagues who present the afflicted with the grim reality of their destructive behavior and downward spiral into substance abuse, dependency, and addiction.

While an intervention can be a powerful catalyst for an individual accepting the reality of his or her addiction and finally choosing to rehabilitate, there are a lot of misconceptions about the nature of the intervention process. If you or your loved one is currently suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs and may need an intervention, take a moment to consider these facts about intervention.

What is an Intervention?

The use of interventions to convince individuals who are dependent on one or more substances of their need for rehabilitation has been in use since the 1960’s. In most cases, an intervention consists of a confrontation orchestrated by family, friends, and other loved ones in which the addict is presented with evidence of how their destructive habits have affected others, an assurance that the addict is loved and supported, and an attempt is made to convince the addict to enter a treatment program. While the term “confrontation” has offensive connotations, more often than not interventions aren’t aggressive, but rather are a last-ditch attempt in which loved ones invite the addict to begin a path to recovery, also called an invitational approach.

The Intervention Process

An intervention typically begins with one or more friends and family members who are aware of the severity of an addict’s dependence—oftentimes due to being either directly or indirectly affected by it—and are concerned for their health, safety, and overall well-being. Addiction has a profound effect on an individual in physical and mental ways, even putting their life in danger, and this often makes the people around them to be fearful of all the bad things that could happen. The goal of the intervention is to intervene before the addiction from which the afflicted individual suffers can be treated and managed before it’s too late. Many times the group of loved ones will seek assistance from an intervention specialist who can help guide and facilitate the intervention so that it is most effective.

The addict is usually unaware that an intervention will occur, which can sometimes give them the impression of being “ambushed”. It’s notuncommon for the addict to try to leave; however, it’s important not to be too aggressive with them. The best approach for this scenario is to urge them to stay and to assure them that all that is really expected is that the individual listens to what their friends, family, and other loved ones have to say.

interventionDuring the intervention process, loved ones will take turns speaking, either directly to the individual suffering from addiction or just aloud to the group. Many people prefer to write what they intend to say on paper beforehand so they can read from the paper during the intervention; since interventions are an emotional experience for everyone involved, this is a great way to ensure that a person says everything that he or she wanted to say. Common topics that loved ones will talk about include how they feel about the addict’s substance abuse and dependence, how it has affected them personally, expressing worry for the addict’s well-being and life, talking about events that have occurred as a direct result of the addiction such as arrests for crimes, and other things of this nature. The goal of the intervention is to confront the addict with the profound effect their addiction has had not only on him or her as an individual, but on everyone who cares about the addict as well. This also helps to overcome the denial that’s common among addicts and alcoholics, helping them to accept their dependence.

It’s important to remember that as each individual speaks to the addict during the intervention, a tone of love, support, and acceptance must be maintained at all times. It’s encouraged to show emotion, but not to direct feelings of anger or resentment toward the addict who has not been in control of their own actions. Addiction is a disease that must be treated as such, but the addict must first accept that he or she has a problem and choose to receive professional help for the condition. Aggression, anger, and resentment will make an addict feel attacked and are counterproductive to what an intervention is hoped to achieve. Professional intervention specialists can help to prepare loved ones for what to expect during the intervention as well as what behaviors are acceptable or encouraged, what topics should be discussed, and so on.

Once each loved one has had a turn to speak, the addict is usually asked—sometimes even pleadingly—if he or she would accept help for their substance abuse by enrolling in a treatment program. The high level of emotion of the intervention is what makes them effective; confronted by the devastation that their addiction has wrought on their loved ones, this is often the point at which addicts are the most likely to accept their substance dependence and begin a treatment program. More often than not, the addict is taken to a recovery facility to begin treatment the same day.

Being Prepared for Resistance


Each intervention is unique, based on the individual who is experiencing active drug or alcohol addiction as well as the family, friends, and loved ones who are concerned and want to be involved. While interventions have shown to be one of the most effective ways to encourage an addict to accept his or her problem and join a recovery program, sometimes the addict resists. Being prepared for some of the responses the addict may give in order to continue with their substance abuse can help to make the intervention more effective.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there are five responses that are common of addicts whose loved ones have staged an intervention. Of the individuals who resist treatment during an intervention, the five most common responses are the following:

  • “Not ready to stop using,” which comprises 38.8 percent of excuses to resist treatment.
  • “No health coverage”/”Couldn’t afford treatment” (32.1 percent).
  • “Don’t know where to go for treatment” (12.9 percent).
  • “Possible negative effect on job” (12.3 percent).
  • “Receiving treatment will result in being stigmatized or ostracized by the community” (11.8 percent).

Since an individual cannot be forced to enter a treatment program, the best response to an addict not being ready to stop using is to interventioncontinue showing the individual how much their addiction is hurting others and to assure the addict that, if left untreated, addiction is a fatal disease. For those who don’t feel they could afford treatment, it’s important to inform them that there are many facilities who offer flexible payment options and some even accept personal and government health plans. When an individual doesn’t know where to go for treatment, provide them with literature about treatment facilities and put them into contact with Ocean Breeze Recovery today; however, many loved ones make tentative treatment arrangements for the addict as part of the intervention preparations.

If the individual feel that seeking treatment for addiction will result in a negative effect on their job, inform them that continued addiction can and will lead to an even worse effect on their job such as being terminated for failing a drug screen or for showing up to work intoxicated; additionally, some employers will allow temporary leave for employees who need medical care. For individuals who suggest treatment will ostracize them from the community, inform them that their addiction and the behaviors that come with addiction—aggression, reckless and risky behavior, committing crimes to support habit—foster a worse reputation than completing a rehabilitation could; additionally, completing a treatment program shows consideration for personal well-being and for others, making it a much more respectable, noble decision than continued substance abuse.

Intervention has consistently shown to be one of the most efficient ways of convincing an addict of their dependence and encouraging them to seek help for their disease. While an intervention specialist can ensure than an intervention is as effective as possible, those who are unable to pay for a specialist’s services will find plenty of resources on the internet that will allow loved ones or orchestrate an intervention without the assistance of an intervention specialist. For example, there are step-by-step intervention guides, effective intervention checklists, and intervention tips.

If you or a loved one is in need of a drug or alcohol addiction recovery program, contact Ocean Breeze Recovery today. We have a team of caring, knowledgeable specialists available to help put individuals who are suffering from addiction on a path to recovery today. It’s never too late to find fulfillment in sobriety and a healthy, productive life.

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