What is an intervention? At the core, if you’ve had to deal with addiction in your family, then you already know any demands seldom have a meaningful effect.

You might even reach the stage where you’ve heard others talking about interventions and also start doing a little research on this strategy, but you end up with more questions than answers.

What Is an Intervention?

Well, the first very easy answer we can provide concerns the core question itself: “What is an intervention?”

In the simplest sense, an intervention is an invitation to find and pursue the correct path of care.

Immediately, then, that’s excellent news. You’re asking the person in trouble, not telling them. Suggestions and a demonstration of love go a lot further in desperate situations than stark demands, demands that merely won’t be met. Demands typically foster resentment and possibly even have an adverse effect on the individual pusing them away. At the end of the day, the individual has to want it for themselves and the first step is bringing the problem to light.

Once you’ve established that you’ll be inviting someone to start down the path to recovery, things rapidly get a little less clear-cut.

Since an intervention involves a combination of strategies, how to best go about planning one, can to a large extent be personalized. Matter of fact, it Should be personalized. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach since this might very well not fit the circumstances at hand, so get ready to be flexible. That said, there is an effective framework to streamline the process, and we’ll outline that in due course.

First thing’s first, though…

You need to identify the problem itself. Identifying the problem will help you adopt the most effective strategies to help your loved ones get the care they deserve, and for you to get the peace of mind you deserve.

Before an Intervention: What Is The Nature of The Problem and Is an Intervention Necessary?

Deciding whether or not an intervention is necessary often centers more on suspicion than certainty.

Here are 10 common warning signs that might indicate your loved one does need professional help to kickstart their recovery process…

What is an intervention? The 10 Signs it Might Be Necessary

1) Deceptive behavior becomes the norm

Deception can take on many forms and is rooted in a desire on the part of the addict to conceal their behavior, often out of shame.

Drinkers frequently dispose of their empty bottles outside the house. Substance abusers will go to great lengths to hide their paraphernalia. With an addiction to prescription drugs, it’s a commonplace for the person to try to keep medication receipts out of sight.

You might suspect your loved one is lying about where they’re going and what they plan to do.

If you start seeing evidence of deceptive behavior across the board, it’s a red flag something serious is amiss.

2) Their personal relationships are suffering

Maintaining friendships and relationships with family and partners is tough for anyone struggling with addiction.

When you notice a radical change in the social habits of a loved one, try to find out what’s causing this by asking some non-confrontational questions. Continue monitoring any breakdown in relationships and ask yourself if this confirms your suspicions about needing to stage an intervention.

3) Things are deteriorating for your loved one professionally

Whether it’s atypical problems at work, extended absences, or even the outright loss of a job, professional issues are almost inevitable for any addict. Holding down a job will be very difficult as the substance takes control mentally.

Along with deceptive behavior, you can’t accept the excuses.

When these problems become so severe that you notice them yourself, you could be correct in thinking it’s time for an intervention.

4) You witness your friend or a family member losing interest in usual activities or hobbies

One of the classic markers of any addiction spiraling out of control is the person manifestly suffering interest in everything they used to hold dear. Maintaining a hobby seems like too much hard work when addiction gets the upper hand. Things that were previously enjoyable seem like a chore. It’s important to identify what is an intervention before you can turn the table and identify these important behaviors.

If you witness any change in behavior along these lines combined with suspicions about addiction, it’s quite possibly time to extending further assistance.

5) You notice signs of financial irregularities

Whether someone starts to fall behind with rent or other payments, starts asking for loans, or appears to be generally having a tough time financially, this could be an indication addiction is the root cause if you already suspect the person is suffering in the first place.

One qualification here is that with wealthier individuals, this could be tougher to spot and therefore easier for them to cover up. With the more affluent, totally reckless and out-of-character expenditure is a better metric to watch out for when dealing with a friend or loved one addicted to a substance.

6) You suspect the person is intoxicated socially and even at work

When you see someone who appears routinely under the influence in a social setting and potentially even at work, this is a signal things could be getting out of hand.

Once the addict’s disease reaches an acute stage, almost uncontrollable self-medication becomes the norm. In pressurized situations, whether socially or professionally, this can start becoming noticeable.

Do not ignore these signs.

7) Their tolerance seems abnormally high

Increased tolerance is one clear indication that a person’s addiction is becoming worse.

If you suspect your loved one is drinking more without appearing intoxicated or they start to visit the pharmacy more frequently, heightened tolerance due to abuse might well be beneath this.

8) Physical manifestations are apparent

If your loved one’s appearance starts to deteriorate, whether that’s bloodshot eyes or bad breath, a dip in personal hygiene or less attention to the way they dress, addiction could have set in fully.

9) Any attempt to discuss their situation is met head-on with denial

One of the reasons for arranging an intervention is because all casual efforts to address the problem have failed.

Are you tired of hearing that the person doesn’t have a problem at all?

If, even in the face of much of the evidence above, your loved one continues to deny anything is wrong roundly, a formal intervention might be the best way to better broker a more fruitful discussion.

10) Promises to control the situation are broken

If you’ve already reached the stage where the person has admitted there’s a problem with addiction but countered by saying they have things in hand and will moderate consumption, what happens next?

Every person’s mind who is controlled by a substance will make promises. Promises to control the substance or stop, but it’s up to you to identify those signs rather than enabling the problem. Rather than attaching blame to someone in the grips of disease and who desperately needs help, it might finally be time to take steps toward arranging an intervention.


Do you make a call and hope for the best?

No, far from it.

Before we get to the planning stage of an intervention, though, it’s best to firm up the immediate goal so you can determine if it’s really necessary.

What Is The Immediate Goal of Interventions?

Any intervention aims to help the person struggling with an addiction to enter a drug rehab program. The drug rehab usually is an inpatient facility treating addiction from the inside and out. Vita Nova at Newport Bay is a drug rehab in Newport Beach, do not hesitate to ask for assistance.

You should also be clear about what an intervention is not.

The last thing you should do is gather friends and family with the intention of ganging up on the person who needs your help. Keep in mind that they do need your help, even if it’s just to start them down the path to recovery.

An intervention provides an opportunity for the person to see first-hand the effect their addiction is having on others. An intervention shows family, close friends, and even acquaintances will no longer tolerate the behavior but you should leave judgment to one side. Presenting a united front is paramount. Ganging up on a person in need of help runs counter to your goal.

And this, to reiterate, is to help the person enter a drug rehab facility even if they don’t initially think it’s necessary.

Now you can see whether or not someone in your life might need an intervention and you’re entirely clear on the short-term goal – successful, sustained recovery being the long-term aim – you should not overlook the importance of planning.

This is the chance for you to make a real difference. Don’t waste it with rash, unplanned action.

Staging an Intervention: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

To recap, an intervention is a process where friends and family of the person with an addiction all meet up at a set time and place, usually without the prior knowledge of the addict.

With a simple underlying goal of everyone in the room expressing how they feel about the person’s situation with the intention of kickstarting recovery, positivity and structure are the foundations of any successful intervention.

Two key decisions should be made before anything else:

  • Who should be at the intervention?
  • Do you have enough information to understand the situation fully?

Before taking any firm steps, you should initially discuss the issue of an intervention by consulting anyone close to the person in need.

While friends and family members should be part of the group, it also pays to include those from the addict’s more extended social circle. This helps to show the person the extent of their problem and how far the ill-effects ripple outward.

It’s also wise to exclude anyone who condones substance abuse, excessive drinking or the behavior of the person in question.

Educating yourself about the nature of the addiction in question is vital to maximizing your chance of conveying your points accurately.

Assuming you have a sound idea of who you want to be there, and you’re confident you know enough about the situation to give informed advice, it’s time to get down to planning proper.

10 Steps To Planning and Executing a Successful Intervention

You’ll see that fully half the steps below still focus on the planning stage. You should not underestimate the value of being fully prepared and time spent at this stage is entirely not time wasted.

If you’ve established that the person is unable to control their addiction, and they’ve perhaps already stated they don’t plan to seek treatment, get the initial planning group mentioned in place and take action for their good.

1) Form An Initial Intervention Planning Group and Decide Upon The Full Intervention Group

For the purposes of initial planning, it’s unnecessary to include absolutely everyone you might want at the intervention itself.

Once you’ve got the idea fully formed and you’ve made a complete list of friends and family who will be present at the intervention, contact everyone concerned and arrange for an initial meeting with everyone except the addict.

2) Engage The Services of an Intervention Specialist

At the initial meeting, you can decide on the best approach for engaging the services of an intervention specialist.

Seek advice from your healthcare provider. Do your own research online and offline. Solicit recommendations from anyone who has been in this situation.

Reconvene your group for another meeting and pool resources. Decide upon the best specialist for your needs if you don’t want to risk going it alone.

3) Formulate Your Message

It’s crucial that everyone in the group knows exactly what they’re going to say before the intervention takes place.

A useful rule of thumb is to avoid “You” statements since this can lead the addict to feeling blamed and shamed. By using “I” statements, you can demonstrate how you feel and how the person’s behavior is affecting you less directly without diminishing the impact of your words.

Of course, as well as each individual in the intervention group making their point about how the person’s behavior has impacted their life, there should also be a clear and underlying message…

Seeking treatment and pursuing the path of recovery is not only possible, but the best option. Reassure them that all the support they need is in place every step of the way.

While there will undoubtedly be negative content, keep the overall vibe constructive, positive and solution-oriented.

4) Practice Makes Perfect

Regular meetings before the intervention will increase the chances of success.

You can also all use the time between meetings to make sure you’re fully informed about what led your loved one into the grip of addiction.

Rehearse what you all plan to say in the order you intend to say it.

While it’s tempting to start with those closest to the addict, be cautious.

In some cases, it’s more prudent to start with words from someone close and a little more removed from the situation.

As confidence arises, you know what to say and how to get the message across. It’s logistic time now!

5) Set a Time and Place For The Intervention

Obviously, choose a time when you know the person in question will be free. Everyone in the intervention group also needs to be available at this time.

You will almost inevitably get better results if the addict is sober at the time with more chance of that moment of clarity than if you catch them unawares and intoxicated.

Block off several hours for the intervention. You might not need this length of time, but it’s best not to feel rushed.

You should opt for a familiar place that will be comfy and also free from any distractions. It’s better to choose a private residence than a public space for self-evident reasons.

6) Keep Your Expectations Realistic

With all arrangements in place, there’s one final thing all members of the group should keep uppermost in mind…

You should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

In the optimum scenario, your loved one might actually feel relieved and agree there and then to head off into a treatment facility.

At the other end of the scale, you could experience an outright hostile reaction with a pointed refusal to comply.

Prepare yourself for failed outcomes, objections, and rejections. Your loved one might agree then take control of the help you provide.

In this type of situation, having an experienced intervention specialist on hand will be invaluable.

7) Stick To The Intervention Structure

Bearing all those pointers in mind, when the day of the intervention comes, stick rigidly to your planned structure. This is not the time for spontaneity.

Each person should have the opportunity to say everything they need to get off their chest. Starting with an expression of love and deep concern, you can each highlight how, precisely, the addict has been behaving. Give concise examples of the way in which their behavior has affected you.

The message should be everyone in the room wants to support the addict through complete recovery.

Complete a plan of attack to start recovery. Set boundaries to proceed with relocation to an inpatient drug rehab if you get a positive outcome.

8) Remain Fully Supportive Throughout The Intervention

Keep anger away and focus on your feelings of love, concern, and care.

There’s no sense in pretending the intervention won’t be fraught with emotion. Don’t shy away from calling your loved one out but find a particular way to communicate the message.

9) Have a Pre-Formulated After-Plan

If successful, have a clear and fixed plan on how and when to get the person straight into a recovery center.

Have options in place and stick to them as you stick to the structure of the intervention.

10) Be Prepared For Failure

You need to accept you might not persuade the addict to seek treatment or even to admit the problem.

Since addiction is by nature an irrational disease, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you expect rational responses.

There are a few pointers you can bear in mind to limit the chances of failure, though…

Things To Avoid at an Intervention

  • Harassing the addict or making them feel blamed
  • Focusing on the problem at the expense of the solution
  • Attempting an intervention when the person is intoxicated
  • Failing to stick to the plan and structure of the intervention
  • Absence of a back-up plan leading to further escalation rather than resolution

What To Do Next

If you’ve identified what is an intervention, don’t be afraid to seek assistance. We don’t expect you to be a professional give us a call.

If you’d like any advice, get in touch with us today! At Vita Nova and we can outline the various options at your disposal. Make your dream of your loved one recovering fully a reality.