According to Pew research, almost half of all people have a family member or close friend suffering from addiction. Watching a loved one deal with substance abuse issues can be heartbreaking, to say the least.

If you’re tired of watching someone you care about lose their life to drugs or alcohol, you may consider staging an intervention.

But despite how common addiction is, most people know shockingly little about what an intervention is or how to stage an intervention that delivers results.

Are you ready to take action to save your loved one? The sooner you act, the better.

Read on as we answer what is an intervention and give you a complete guide on how to stage one.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention, defined in the broadest sense, is a meeting of people with the intention to stop an act or assist with something.

Many times people stage an intervention with the intention of inspiring their loved one to seek professional treatment. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes an intervention may be called a method of catharsis.

Whether you’re gathering to convince your loved one to find help or just need to get some things off your chest, the intent behind holding an intervention is always the same: to help.

At the end of the day, an intervention is first and foremost for the addict’s benefit.

When Is an Intervention Necessary?

It can be difficult to know when to intervene in an addict’s life. You may feel that you’re overstepping your boundaries or that their drug or alcohol use may be more of a recreational activity than a dependency.

So how can you be sure it’s time to step in and assist your loved one?

The biggest sign it’s time to stage an intervention is that you’ve become concerned with their behavior. You may feel like your addicted loved one is a danger to themselves or others.

Often, this is caused by an addiction’s behavior becoming more and more uncontrollable. Perhaps they’re lashing out or seem to be struggling at work.

Here are a few signs that your loved one is dealing with a serious addiction.


While you may feel a sense of anger at your loved one, know that they’re every bit as unhappy about the circumstance. In fact, many addicts feel a sense of guilt and remorse over their actions.

As a result, they may become more secretive and hide their actions.

It can be tough to pinpoint whether an addict is lying, so this will largely depend on your knowledge of the addict. With that said, there are a few physical indicators that your loved one isn’t telling the whole truth.

They may look around a lot, for instance. Refusing to make eye contact is a classic sign of lying and may tell you more than your loved one’s words.

They may also answer in a vague manner or dodge your questions as a whole. If you ask the person in question about their plans, for example, they may reply in short, less detailed sentences.

Strange Sleep Patterns

Substances such as drugs and alcohol are known to affect brain chemistry. As a result, it may become difficult for an addict to sleep. They may even develop insomnia and find themselves unable to sleep for days on end.

If your loved one seems tired on a constant basis or starts developing bags under their eyes, their substance of choice may be interfering with their natural sleep cycle.

And though this may seem like an innocuous sign, it can lead to a vicious cycle. The more tired an addict is, the more likely they are to turn to a substance to aid sleep.

An Increase of Risky Behaviors

As addicts become more desperate to find their next fix, they may engage in risky behavior.

Things, like stealing, overspending, and engaging in unprotected sex are quite common among those dealing with addiction. These behaviors can lead to legal troubles as well as lifelong health conditions and STDs.

Compulsory Behaviors

Finally, pay close attention to your loved one’s body language. See if they develop any strange new tics.

Twitching and arm scratching are common signs of methamphetamine and heroin use, for instance.

Their speech patterns may become altered as well. They may speak in a slower manner or start to trail off mid-sentence.

How to Stage an Intervention

With a baseline understanding of what an intervention is and when it may become necessary to stage an intervention, let’s now turn our focus on the intervention itself.

How you stage your intervention is a determining factor in your overall success. As a result, you’ll want to be careful about the process lest you risk ostracizing the afflicted loved one and sending them further into their addiction.

Here are a few tips to help you develop your intervention plan.

Research Addiction

The good news is that you’re already doing a great job simply by reading this article. While movies and TV shows such as A&E’s Intervention like to portray interventions as shout-filled confrontations, this is a poor source of research.

Instead, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional or addiction specialist.

Ask for resources to help you develop a plan for your intervention. They’ll likely be able to point you in the direction of helpful articles, books, and contacts that you can use to stage the most effective intervention possible.

You’ll also need to research your loved one’s substance of choice. Educating yourself on the most abused substances can give you a better idea of what your loved one is dealing with.

Who to Include

Determining who to include in the meeting can be challenging. For the addict, seeing their friends and relatives gathered together to discuss their addiction can be quite embarrassing.

As a result, it’s a good idea to include only who is necessary. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to keep the gathering as small as possible.

Therefore, your group should consist of those most directly affected by the addict’s behavior. Friends and family are two of the most common attendees though it isn’t unheard of to include close colleagues from work.

Consider Enlisting Professional Assistance

While your intervention should be kept as small as possible, it may be a good idea to enlist the aid of an intervention specialist.

These trained professionals have experience working with those struggling with substance abuse and can help you maximize the efficiency of your gathering.

Furthermore, they can help you learn more about what your loved one may be going through. Since they go through rigorous training, they’ll be able to provide plenty of details and statistics on recovery and addiction.

Finally, your specialist can help you direct your feelings in a more constructive manner.

It’s understandable that you’re hurt, upset, or even feel guilty about your loved one’s behaviors. But the intervention should be about the addict first and foremost. Controlling those emotions can be a challenge in high-stakes situations like these.

Structure the Intervention

It’s best to give yourself a few days to prepare for the intervention. A loose or poorly-planned meeting can potentially do more harm than good.

Be conscientious about how your meeting is planned and create a structure and plan to keep everyone on track.

Begin by finding the right place to meet. Homes are often the best location though anywhere your loved one goes on a regular basis will suffice. With that said, interventions can be embarrassing for the user, so keep it private.

Next, come up with a list of people who will speak. An itinerary may seem like a bit much, but remember, interventions can go off the rails. The more organized your meeting, the better.

Watch Your Language

Interventions have a tendency to be high-stakes emotional roller coasters.

And though you’re encouraged to speak openly and honestly with your loved one about how their addiction is affecting those around them, what you say and how you say it matters a great deal.

Be careful about the type of language you use in your speech.

Be direct and to the point. You should feel free to speak your piece, but always speak it from a place of love, not anger or guilt.

Avoid using words like:

  • Junkie
  • Crazy
  • Druggie
  • Disappointed

Each of these words has a harmful effect and will only isolate your loved one. Even if you have strong feelings of anger and resentment toward the addict in question, it’s vital that you express them without using damaging language.

Expect Resistance

There’s a good chance that the person you’re staging an intervention for has no clue what you’re planning. As a result, they’re likely going to be shocked or even angered about the gathering.

Expect resistance-be it verbal or physical. Have a plan to call the police if things get out of hand, but only use this strategy as a last resort and not as a threat.

Have a Post-Intervention Plan

Since an intervention is intended to encourage or influence an addict to seek treatment for their substance abuse issues, you’ll need to have a post-intervention plan.

Have the name, phone number, and address of a reputable addiction treatment facility on hand. Tell your loved one that you’re willing to help them pack and drive them to the facility.

With that said, you can’t coerce someone into checking into rehab. At the end of the day, the user is in charge of his or her decisions.

Though you should always hope for the best, know that you can’t force them into seeking treatment. Stress that there are multiple levels of care available to them, too, and that inpatient treatment isn’t the only option.

Gather Before the Meeting

Most people find confrontation-particularly when the stakes are so high-quite challenging. You can make things easier on those in attendance by gathering before the intervention to go over any last minute details.

Try to meet between 60 and 90 minutes before the intervention begins so you’ll have plenty of time. Answer questions, reiterate the plan and let everyone get on the same page.

Allow Your Loved One to Speak, Too

Though those planning the intervention will do the bulk of the speaking, your loved one should have the freedom to say their piece, as well.

Encourage them to say what they need to say in an effort to help them verbalize their feelings. Doing so can help them process these complex emotions they’re likely feeling.

Note that it’s also okay if they don’t want to speak. They may feel numb, confused, or at a loss for words. These are all normal feelings given the situation.

They should have the freedom to speak, but shouldn’t feel pressured into doing so if they don’t feel up to it.

Stress Your Support for Your Loved One

Finally, end your intervention on a high note.

Stress your love and support for the addict and let them know that the intervention is a sign of love and concern. This meeting is for them, after all, and it should stay that way.

Tell them that you only wish to help them and that you’re here for them whenever they need it.

Coming from a place of love is always better than speaking out of anger. Your loved one will be far more open to hearing what you have to say and could be more receptive to the idea of seeking treatment.

Final Thoughts on Staging an Intervention for Your Loved One

No one ever expects to have to stage an intervention for someone they care about. But addiction is something that millions of people across the globe are dealing with.

If you’re looking to help your loved one, or simply want more information on what is an intervention, contact our team of experts today.

We can help you find treatment centers, insurance information, and helpful resources to let you better understand what you’re loved one is going through.

No one should have to watch someone they care about waste their life away. Get in touch today and take the first step toward helping your loved one.