Witnessing addiction destroy a loved one is a tragic event, but it’s one that countless people experience every year. If this is your current reality, you may be wondering what you can do to help. In many instances, this invariably raises the question of how to hold an intervention. First, it’s important to not take your queues from “reality” television. The following process can help you get it done right.

Recognize the Signs

Medical practitioners often misdiagnose alcohol-related issues, but it’s also possible for loved ones to wrongly believe others are facing addition. While you certainly know your friends and family more than anyone, consider the following signs of addiction before moving forward.

  • Mood swings.
  • Isolation.
  • Money troubles.
  • Continued use after negative consequences.
  • Compulsive abuse.
  • Repeat overuse of substance.
  • Risk-taking behaviors increase.
  • Hoarding the substance to avoid running out.
  • Less time spent with friends and family.

Not all these factors must be present, and still other behaviors may signify addiction. These actions are still a good indicator that a person is experiencing troubles.

Start with Conversation – Not Intervention

While interventions can be very effective, they are also typically utilized as last-ditch efforts. It’s possible that your friend or family member may be responsive to a one-on-one conversation. Try to explain how their behavior has changed and why you’re concerned. If they’re willing to enter treatment after this heart to heart, learning how to run an intervention along with planning and execution may not be necessary.

Seek Out Help

Seeking help from a professional is recommended. This could be a social worker, doctor or trained interventionist. If you choose to handle this on your own, though, it’s still important that you don’t handle it on your own. Contact friends and family members who have also expressed concern for your loved one and want to see them overcome addiction.

Recommended Reading: 5 Best Practices for Your Intervention Program

Friends and family play an important role in recovery. While someone suffering from addiction must want to change, it’s their loved ones that can get them to that point. Seek the help you need to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Form Your Intervention Team

You – along with the individuals you’ve reached out to for help – will need to choose an intervention team. These are the individuals who will have direct involvement in the group discussion with your addicted loved one. Everyone should agree on where the intervention will take place, anyone else who should come, the best time for the process and an outline of how everything should play out.

Although they may want to take part, you shouldn’t allow other family members who are facing addiction to participate in the intervention.

Become an Expert

It’s a tall task to ask someone to become an expert in certain substance abuse issues, but it is important that you inform yourself on what your friend or family member is going through. Research the best ways to fight specific addictions and what the recovery process looks like. You can often get literature from local addiction organizations, and you should also seek out potential rehab and detox programs.

Write Letters Expressing Concern

Some people call them letters, and others call them impact statements. Regardless of the specific verbiage, this is everyone’s opportunity to explain how their loved one’s addiction has changed them and affected relationships. It’s important to focus on what’s been lost rather than making accusatory statements.

Everyone that writes a statement should focus on factual information. A person cannot argue the fact that they lost a job or went to jail, and they cannot dispute your emotional responses to their behavior. The main goal is to let your loved one know that their addiction has far-reaching effects that go beyond their personal experience.

Decide Upon Concrete Consequences

Studies consistently show that enabling and codependent behaviors from loved ones allow addicts to continue their toxic behaviors. One of the most important aspects of learning how to hold an intervention is recognizing that this is the final straw. Everyone should agree that – if their loved one refuses help – their relationships will change. The addicted person must know these consequences.

Review our free Family Member Support Guide to help decide how to move forward regarding consequences.


Spontaneity is often disastrous during an intervention. Take the time to hold at least one rehearsal prior to the specified date. Rest assured that extreme emotions may occur when this process finally unfolds. Practicing beforehand will help you plan out how long everyone should talk and when they should speak out. It will also allow your intervention team to get a better grasp on how to express themselves.

Hold the Intervention

Carry out the intervention exactly how you planned and rehearsed. Read all your letters and then present your loved one with the treatment options you found. You should also explain concrete actions you’ll take to help (e.g. offering a ride to detox). Everyone needs to share what their consequences will be if the individual doesn’t accept help, and the process shouldn’t end without asking them to do so on the spot.

Follow Through

If your loved one agrees to treatment, make sure you keep the promise you made to help. If they refuse treatment, it’s essential that you hold strong to the consequences you vowed. Whatever the outcome, following through is the only way to avoid making the situation worse. You put this much work into the process, so make sure you take it to the goal line.

Know How to Hold an Intervention Before Starting

If there’s one defining point in this entire guide, it’s that preparation is essential for any effective intervention. Your loved one can get the help they need, and through meticulous planning of an intervention, you could be the catalyst to their behavioral change. Addiction is a monster that’s not easily overcome, but as these steps show, it’s not an insurmountable feat.

Always remember that you don’t have to go through this process alone. At Transformations Treatment Center, we can show you how to hold an intervention and provide the necessary treatment afterwards. Contact us today for help.

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