FAQs: How Do I Stage an Addiction Intervention

If you have seen the signs and symptoms of an addiction and someone you loved,

If you have seen the signs and symptoms of an addiction and someone you loved, the next step you might assume is to stage an intervention. This quick guide will provide information on how to do so successfully.

What should happen during the intervention?


During the intervention your group should come together to confront the person with the addiction. The focus is to try to persuade them to make a positive change. This shouldn’t be a time for accusations but rather to provide encouragement. Its about shifting a person’s mindset toward the idea of professional help with their addiction.

Should we lie to get the addicted person to come?


Groups try to find a reason to get the addicted person to meet them at a specific time and place so that they can catch them off guard. Get the addicted person to simply agree to attend an event. The group staging the intervention shouldn’t lie. Simply withholding the true intent should do the trick.

Do we have to prepare for the intervention?


You should absolutely prepare as a group prior to the intervention. It is important that the close friends and family participating in the addiction intervention talk about what they want to share or highlight during the intervention. Most people typically write down a list or a letter that highlights the ways in which the addiction has affected each of them. They then select one person from the group to read that letter out loud.

How long should it be?


Most interventions last about 1 hour but that’s really up to you. You can choose to have it be longer if you have lots of family members and friends in attendance.

Where should the intervention take place?


The intervention should take place and a location where your addicted family member isn’t going to feel threatened. You should select a time when they are most likely to be sober and a place where they can feel comfortable opening up.

Should we rehearse our letters or speeches?


Rehearsing is a vital part of this. Staging an intervention is a difficult process for everyone. Everyone involved is emotionally invested and vulnerable. You don’t want to say something you wont be able to take back. Properly preparing can help avoid those pitfalls.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the individual you love might truly not see how their addiction is affecting you. They might be completely blind to the impact that their addiction is having. Sharing personal stories about how the addiction affects each person in the room is such a critical component. Rehearsing what you are going to say will help you clearly read the letter when the time comes.

Do I have to put it in a letter format?


Letter formats at interventions are quite common. Each member of the intervention group writes a letter explaining the way in which the addiction has affected their lives. Other groups choose to use a single letter that combines the information from every person. Another option is to go around the room and read things aloud or write note cards. It does not have to be a letter but the purpose should be the same. The goal should be to inform your loved one how his or her addiction is a destructive force in your life and to stress the need for real addiction treatment.

Do we give an ultimatum?


In whatever format you choose it is important to establish boundaries. This does not necessarily have to be an ultimatum. Sometimes it is enough to simply set up boundaries and relay subsequent consequences should they refuse help. These consequences need to be decided upon in advance when the group gets together to rehearse and must be very specific. Each individual who attends the intervention is responsible for deciding on their own set of individual consequences. It is something that can be explained in the individual letters.

For example, one family member might state explicitly that they will no longer let the person with the addiction live at their house if they do not accept help from a treatment center within two weeks. Another might say that if the addicted person does not agree to get help, they will no longer be allowed to see their nieces and nephews because of the risk it poses. These are delicate issues and should be given proper thought in advance.

Should we use a professional?


There are services where you can have an intervention specialist help you organize the intervention. Working with a specialist has the same goal- encouraging the person with the addiction to seek treatment and to know that they have family members who love them and will support them. In many cases, having a specialist on hand to actually lead it will be a great benefit. Working with an intervention specialist might help you build a strategy that will greatly improve the likelihood of a successful intervention.

Since joining the Townsend content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.