What is an Intervention?

When a loved one struggles with an addiction, sometimes the most loving thing you can do for her is plan an intervention. Interventions allow family members and other loved ones to communicate to the addicted person how the drug abuse has impacted them.

It is also a time for the addicted person to go straight into treatment. Interventions are professionally directed by an interventionist who assists the family in planning the meeting, writing out what they wish to say, rehearsing and finding the right treatment program.1

Enlisting the services of a professional interventionist means finding a someone who is experienced in the field. The right interventionist will also be licensed and have references from other professionals and former clients.

Intervention Basics

illustration of hand offering other hand a life-preserverInterventions can come in many different forms. Some include family and loved ones and others invite co-workers, members of the clergy and anyone who has influence over the addicted person. Interventions can be used to help those struggling with addiction, undiagnosed mental illness or a combination of issues that are negatively impacting their life and the lives of those around them.

People who are struggling with addictive behaviors are usually in denial about their problem, how it is affecting others and the fact that they need treatment. Intervention is an opportunity for loved ones to address each issue in a non-threatening way, show the person that they are loved and spell out the consequences should the person continue in her downward spiral.

Intervention Steps

According to the Mayo Clinic, a with the help of a trained interventionist, an intervention usually includes the following:

  • Make a plan. A family member or friend proposes an intervention and forms a planning group.
  • Gather information. The group members find out about the extent of your loved one’s problem and research the condition and treatment programs.
  • Form the intervention team. The planning group forms a team that will personally participate in the intervention. Team members set a date and location and work together to present a consistent, rehearsed message and a structured plan.
  • Decide on specific consequences. If your loved one doesn’t accept treatment, each person on the team needs to decide what action he or she will take. For example, you may decide to ask your loved one to move out.
  • Make notes on what to say. Each team member describes specific incidents where the addiction caused problems, such as emotional or financial issues. Discuss the toll of your loved one’s behavior while still expressing care and the expectation that he or she can change.
  • Hold the intervention meeting. Without revealing the reason, your loved one with the addiction is asked to the intervention site. Members of the team then take turns expressing their concerns and feelings. Your loved one is presented with a treatment option and asked to accept that option on the spot.
  • Follow up. Involving a spouse, family members or others is critical to help someone with an addiction stay in treatment and avoid relapsing.2

Interventions require careful planning in order to be successful. Not all interventions are successful, but attempting to help your loved one in this way makes a powerful statement about her need for treatment.

What is an Interventionist?

licensed professional interventionistAn interventionist is a person who helps you and your loved ones identify the people who should part of the intervention team, when it should happen and where your loved one should go for treatment. An interventionist is experienced in substance abuse treatment and other mental health and behavioral problems and is specifically trained in organizing and carrying out interventions.

Interventionists who are certified by the Association of Intervention Specialists meet a set of rigorous standards and are highly connected in the addictive medicine community. This allows the interventionist to connect families to a network of additional professionals that can help them as they support their loved one on her recovery journey.3

Using a trained and certified interventionist is the best way to plan an effective intervention that will help your loved one get the treatment she needs.


Finding Help for Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse and have any questions about interventions, we are here for you. Call our 24-hour helpline, 901-350-4575, to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.

By Patti Richards, Contributing Writer


1 Wilcox, Stephen. “Intervention – Tips and Guidelines.” National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 25 July 2018.

2 Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 July 2017.

3 What Is an Intervention? Learn About Intervention.” American Intervention Specialists, Aug. 2018.