Tips to Plan and Prepare a Family Intervention

A family drug intervention treats an individual’s addiction as a family issue – a problem that affects all members of the family and is best resolved when all affected parties are involved in it. Learn what is expected from a family drug intervention, how to plan one as well as how to know if it is the right avenue to pursue for a loved one with addiction.

A family drug intervention educates family members about how to help the addict, and also how each member can readjust to the changed dynamics once an addict’s recovery process begins. The family learns how to create a positive and supportive environment for the recovering addict; they form a support network that the addict can rely on at all times during and post recovery.

But how easy is it for the family to help the addict? An addict’s family has to deal with issues of trust, responsibility, finances, health, and deteriorating interpersonal relationships. A family drug intervention lays the foundation for facing issues within the family, sorting them out, and going ahead with helping the addict recover.

The family drug intervention raises the issue of denial by the addict in a gentle manner, and brings up the topic of family hierarchy and the role of each individual in keeping relationships smooth. Interpersonal relationships that need to be worked on are identified and workable solutions are agreed upon. When all involved open up on how they feel about the situation, it helps clear the air and resentments, which may be present, are resolved or at the very least, the process of resolution is initiated.

The family is counseled on the responsibility of each member in helping the addict; a road map is laid out and short-terms as well as long-term goals are identified. Specific things need to be addressed; for example, members should control the impulse for enabling conduct and trying to do things for the addict. They shouldn’t try to control the addict’s behavior in a forceful manner. This can backfire and recreate the negative environment that family therapy tries to change.

Intervention Goals

A few very important goals and strategies of drug and alcohol intervention exist to make a person realize that the current path is self-destructive. One of the most important and obvious goals is to help the person stop drinking and doing drugs. It requires loved ones to convince the person to go into treatment. If he or she refuses, loved ones should be prepared to stop enabling behaviors and inadvertently supporting alcohol and drug abuse.

Planning an Intervention for a Loved One


Family Intervention TipsDrug and alcohol intervention programs may be a last ditch effort to help a loved one receive treatment. Individuals who need treatment may not be ready to receive it right away which is why a family intervention can be a great strategy to support a person’s journey to recovery.

More of a process than a one-time event, an intervention takes meticulous planning. During the planning stage, a group of people who love and support the individual will meet with an intervention specialist who understands the process to learn how to speak and what to say.

Planning and preparation are key to an effective family drug intervention. The first steps of an intervention can be the hardest but typically planning takes the most time up front and is emotionally consuming to find the right person.

The following are some key points to consider when developing a plan for an intervention:

Meet with professionals

People specialized in staging interventions can be contacted to offer guidance and support through the process, which reduces stress and increases chances for success. The professionals will understand all issues involved and work to deal with addictions as needed in the process while planning and staging the intervention (taking the leg work out for families).

Planning participant list

The planning process is crucial in that a family must decide who will attend and when it will take place. During the planning stages, a person will decide this and also think about what to say to the loved one with addiction.

Decide who will participate but keep in mind anyone who joins should not condone the actions of the person with addiction. An intervention is an expression of love at its very heart. Family and friends will only want to hold an intervention for an individual they care for. Unfortunately, there may not be many people willing to participate in an intervention, since individuals with an addiction tend to burn bridges with the people around them. Or the people willing to participate may be doing it for the wrong reasons. Many interventions fail due to this. It is important that only people the individual respects participate, and only those who are able to set aside their own feelings of hostility.

Planning place and time

A place and time should be decided upon prior to the intervention. Choose a place which offers privacy at a time when the person with addiction will be sober, lucid and most likely to consider treatment as a viable option (which is the ultimate goal of the intervention).

In some cases the need for an intervention is blatantly obvious to everyone but the individual who has the addiction. In such a situation, the intervention should be held immediately. But that is not always the case. Most times it is prudent to find a better time. For example, if the individual with an addiction has just lost their job, or just returned from incarceration. These are times when the individual is feeling like they have lost control, and an intervention will help them see that there are other paths out there, not just the one they are currently on. Most importantly, the individual must be sober for the intervention.

Planning what to say

Each person in the group should plan, even write out, what will be said. Many find it helpful to write a statement which is read to the person during an intervention to keep things concise and focused on how the person’s behavior impacted the individual.

Many people find writing down what to say helpful, especially as it pertains to an intervention. Rehearsals should also be held before the actual event takes place to support preparation for each participant.

Issue Ultimatums & Remove Options

It must be made very clear to the individual with an addiction that all enabling behavior on the part of others is going to stop. Most addicted individuals look to others to support their lifestyle, as they are unable to survive on their own. Therefore ultimatums must be issued if the individual chooses not to seek treatment. For example if a loved one provides the individual with a place to live, then they should make it clear that it will not be available any longer. This is not to be mean or hurtful, but to make going into treatment the only viable choice.

It must be decided what to do if the person will not quit. Some consequences to offer may include:

  • Removal of financial support
  • Removal of emotional support
  • An end to enabling behavior

Contact a treatment center ahead of time

Treatment should be prearranged for the individual with addiction. Childcare should also be prearranged to make it easier to go off to treatment without any excuses.

Hopefully after the intervention the individual will be vulnerable, impressionable and open to the path of recovery. This individual remains in this state for a short period of time only, so one must strike while the iron is hot. If possible, one must have travel arrangements already made and a treatment center ready to admit the individual. Bags must be pre packed. The individual must not be allowed time to change their mind and back out.

Getting started can feel intimidating but with the above steps in mind it helps to take it slowly, one foot in front of the other and not try to do things too quickly. Finding the right professional to help is a crucial first step to making sure all goes smoothly. Take time to find that person and everything else will likely fall into place.

What Type of Response to Expect

Interventions are challenging because every person will react differently when faced with the nature of addiction. The outcome can go one of two ways. Either the person will enter treatment or refuse. Gentle persuasion is the key here. Initial resistance to formal treatment can be overcome using techniques that family members may learn in a family drug intervention.

Making an Intervention Work

The question of whether an intervention works is not always as straightforward as it seems. The simple answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. One factor that is completely out of the control of family and friends is whether the person is ready or willing to enter treatment. If the individual is not ready or willing, there is a good chance the intervention will not work. Loved ones must follow through with consequences laid out during the intervention such as removing emotional or financial support.

An intervention which ends in refusal of treatment does not always indicate failure. After a cooling off period, the person may realize loved ones have the best interests of that person at heart and seek treatment

A family drug intervention is an invaluable tool to coax and treat addicts who are adamant about not entering a rehab facility. Supportive families are of great help in encouraging addicts to seek formal treatment. A family drug intervention is a platform for support for not just the addict but the entire family. Sober family members can be trained to gently nudge an addict into seeking rehabilitation. It can be a delicate process that may take some time, but with the right attitude, proper changes in the family environment, rewards for good behavior, and by introducing the addict to ex-addicts who have recovered, this is achievable.

If you are thinking about staging an intervention or wish to know how a family drug intervention can help an addict in your family, call The Villa to find out how we can support your loved one afterwards with our resources and programs. We have a team of experienced and trained recovery experts who can help your family leave the episode of addiction behind, and begin anew.