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What is an Intervention?

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a pre-planned meeting between concerned individuals and a loved one or friend struggling with addiction. The goal of an intervention is to motivate the loved one to seek help in overcoming addictive behavior.

A successful intervention requires careful planning by friends and family, often with the help of an intervention specialist, to help the individual understand how their addiction is harming their own life and affecting others, to recognize that help is available and to agree to accept help.

Interventions are appropriate for any addictive behavior, including alcohol or substance use disorders, eating disorders and compulsive gambling, to name a few.

How Does an Intervention Work?

The intervention process requires an understanding that addiction is a chronic disease. Because of this, the individual struggling with addiction deserves compassion and understanding, not an angry attack. The point of an intervention is not to gang up on the individual in need of help, but rather to have a concrete plan in place for getting them the help they need.

Who should attend the intervention?

People the individual cares about and respects should attend an intervention. This might include family, friends, co-workers or clergy members.

Before the intervention

Talk to a doctor, addiction recovery professional, psychologist, or intervention specialist, called an interventionist, to determine the best approach for your particular situation and how to put a treatment plan into place. In most cases, having an interventionist in the room during the intervention will lead to better outcomes.

Addiction recovery professionals can also direct you to the educational materials you need to better understand the disease of addiction, as well as resource materials to give your loved one.

Have local 12-step or other support group meeting schedules on hand, as well as information on the specific treatment program you have researched. If the intervention is successful and your loved one agrees to treatment, you will need to act quickly.

Pre-plan what each person will say. Each person who has been harmed by the individual’s addictive behavior should write down specific examples. These could be in the form of a letter or simply notes to keep the speaker on track.

Decide how to proceed if the intervention is not successful. Ask your therapist, interventionist or addiction specialist for guidance on the next steps. Decide how you and others can avoid enabling the addictive behavior and commit to making necessary changes.

Even if your loved one isn’t ready for help, it’s important for those close to the individual to get help for themselves through counseling and support group participation.

During the Intervention

The intervention should take place in a neutral location, and at a time when the individual is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Your loved one should not know about the intervention ahead of time. Once everyone is assembled, everyone involved will take turns expressing how the addictive behavior has impacted them. It is common for the individual to become angry and defensive, but staying as calm as possible is reassuring and supportive.

After everyone has spoken, treatment options are presented. If they agree, set your plan into immediate motion. If they don’t agree, go to the course of action you decided on in your pre-planning stage.

Again, most interventions are more successful with the guidance and support of a professional interventionist present in the room.

After the Intervention

While your loved one is in treatment, your continued support is critical. Continue to express your belief in their ability to be successful and reach sobriety. Participate in any family counseling offered by the treatment center, as well as your own therapy and recovery support.

If your loved one has refused treatment, don’t give up. The intervention process has helped open the door and has given your loved one food for thought. Plan a time to try again.

Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact our admissions department at 813-882-3003800-397-3006 or

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