From reality television to the living rooms of your neighbors, addiction intervention is a necessary practice to address the subject’s substance use addiction. A formal intervention can best be characterized as an effort for loved ones to bring awareness to the addiction, in hopes to prevent the subject from using through treatment. Drug addiction can be difficult for the person struggling to accept help.

Addiction can be defined as compulsive use of a substance or behavior, demonstrating a lack of control despite the effects. Addiction rates in the US and globally are rising. What makes addiction so threatening is the rewiring of the brain’s pathways to repeat addictive behaviors. Depending on the substance itself and the amount taken, alcoholism and drug dependence can begin within 2 weeks of use.

With many different resources available to treat addiction, the first steps are usually the hardest. The confrontation element can be taxing on those who only want what’s best for their family and friends. The subject might be carrying feelings of confusion, guilt, and shame. It’s important to remember that addiction is a treatable disease like diabetes. Through the proper attention and care, a formal intervention could be the ignition for a healthier lifestyle against substance abuse for yourself or a loved one.

Spotting an addiction for substance abuse within a loved one or friend might seem challenging. The symptoms of addiction may vary from substance to substance but some typical signs could include:

  • Dilated pupils, red eyes
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Poor hygiene
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Insomnia
  • Problems at work or school
  • Isolation
  • Rationalizing the behavior
  • Financial problems
  • Missing important events such as appointments
  • Cravings, loss of control over amount used

How Do You Have a Successful Intervention?

A successful intervention can best be described as the subject’s commitment to seek treatment for substance abuse, however, success can be defined in many ways. The intervention team needs to set goals and plan for what they define as success for the subject. The subject may not be in a place to receive what is being said, so consider managing expectations. Recovery from substance use addiction is a lifelong winding journey with different obstacles to jump through.

how to do an intervention

The format of intervention can change but the result of addiction recovery will be the guiding force. Every person wants what’s best for themselves and their loved ones; reminding the subject of this without blaming them is critical. Alcohol and drugs can be used as a way to cope. The subject might become defensive and the confrontation might not go as planned. An intervention is a detailed plan that requires attention and care.

What to Avoid During an Intervention

Being aware of the language used during an intervention for substance abuse is a neglected aspect of support. Avoid using terms such as “junkie” or “alcoholic”, along with keeping the intervention unit small. Remain calm and ensure that the subject is not intoxicated during the intervention. An intervention is not designed to shame or embarrass the subject, as this will only make things worse.

There is no one size fits all plan for a drug abuse intervention. If you intend to stage an intervention, remember to prioritize the positives and how the treatment is a gateway for growth. Interventions that enable follow-ups have shown to be more successful. An intervention can operate through different approaches.

Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention is typically administered by police officers who provide resources for those struggling with substance use disorders. By immersing themselves in the input of medical professionals and police, the subject has an opportunity to understand the value of recovery despite drug addiction. Recovery from alcohol and drug dependence requires many different elements to ensure the person focuses on their mental and physical health, even spirituality.

Brief Intervention

Brief interventions are commonly executed through a hospital. These are short, one-on-one-based strategies to address the substance use from the subject.  An interventionist, social worker, or doctor can perform a brief intervention for alcohol and drugs. If you’ve recently overdosed or were suspected of using addictive substances, a brief intervention could be administered.

If you have a mild to moderate case of drug and alcohol addiction, chances are a brief intervention would be beneficial. More research is required to determine how effective brief interventions are. Researchers have suggested that brief interventions have demonstrated success amongst young and older participants, between men and women as well.

The Johnson Model

The Johnson Model is the most prevalent form of intervention for substance use in the US. The mission of the Johnson Model is to encourage the subject to seek rehabilitation. One or more family members will be at the helm as a means to build trust and intimacy. The subject must be demonstrated that you care for them and establish that through the people participating in the intervention.


Recently, the ARISE model has come into play with an emphasis on the whole family tackling the intervention. The ARISE model modifies the techniques from the Johnson model for a less confrontational approach. The main priority of the model is to enroll the person into addiction treatment. The family environment can be comforting for those who might feel detached from the intervention process. The ARISE model provides an opportunity for everyone to be heard. When addiction strikes a family, some loved ones’ needs might not be met due to the attention being directed towards the subject. Relationships can be strained as each member manages with their unique coping mechanisms.


SMART or (Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Relatable-Time-specific) can take on the form of community intervention. This is recognized as a follow-up tool after the intervention process has been completed. Community interventions commonly employ this method for drug and alcohol addiction. This can be seen as a more practical and defined approach to successful intervention.

What Happens During an Intervention?

Recently, you’ve noticed some valuable items have gone missing and your younger brother has unexplained absences. An intervention for a loved one can take on many different approaches. An addiction interventionist or counselor can be brought on to coordinate the intervention. The family members and other loved ones have the option to meet beforehand and discuss the plan. Treatment options for the subject are typically on the agenda, but the severity of their case can play a major role in this effort.

The subject of the intervention might not want to disrupt their lives from addiction treatment. For example, inpatient treatment will require the patient to remain in the residence but this method is best suited for those that need a distraction-free environment to recover. Support groups are a great opportunity to introduce the subject to the recovery community and gain insight into what’s necessary for change.

Staging a Successful Intervention

A successful intervention will commonly operate through steps or stages with all the members involved. The first step is to seek help; this can arise from a professional interventionist, doctor, friend or counselor to brief you on what’s necessary for the intervention. This is the perfect time to ask questions and educate yourself about the role addiction plays in someone’s life. Forming the intervention unit will be next, preferably from those who know the subject best. If you’re struggling with addiction yourself, it’s recommended that you don’t participate.

The next step will involve creating a plan of action for the intervention. A specific location, time, and guest list should be established in a neutral environment. A professional interventionist can be included. It’s vital in the next step to educate yourself and others about the world of addiction such as rehab, detox, and withdrawals. The following steps would include preparing the written statements about the addictive behavior.

Authenticity Goes a Long Way

Everyone involved in the intervention must speak about how the addiction affects them in an open but understanding delivery. It’s important to remember that your relationships are significant and this can offer an opportunity for the subject to recognize the cost of their behavior on others.

Additionally, offering help during this period is necessary. The subject must understand that you’re willing to do the work by either offering to drive them to treatment and support groups. The next step would be to establish boundaries with the subject by eliminating codependency and enabling behaviors. Rehearsing what you intend to say during the intervention due to the intense emotional state that could occur.

Avoid placing blame on the subject and provide objective evidence/facts about the subject’s substance use. It’s incredibly important to manage your expectations throughout the intervention process. A well-orchestrated intervention with glowing support might not be received by the subject. From there, a follow-up must be issued from the statements made from the intervention to preserve accountability.

When Is an Intervention Appropriate?

An intervention is appropriate for those who seek to provide support for those struggling with addiction. Substance use disorders can bring about many changes in behavior that not only affect the user but others in their lives. An intervention is the first line of defense towards addiction treatment. The problem must be addressed and directed towards recovery for those struggling. Addiction robs the addict of being able to control their impulses to use substances or behaviors.

Who Should Be Involved In an Intervention?

Staging an intervention can be troublesome for those involved as they seek answers to the behaviors that are hurting them. An intervention should be conducted by a close friend, coworker, or family member. Seeking help from an interventionist can relieve the family members from some of the responsibilities of crafting an intervention.

Research is critical so reaching out to a friend or directory for an interventionist would be the next step. Health insurance providers and doctors are other sources to find an intervention specialist. The bonds formed by those closest to the subject can reduce the resistance to seek treatment. Acquaintances might not have the same effect due to a lack of true intimacy.

It’s recommended that you have people that understand you best to hold your behavior accountable. Addiction is not a definition of failure on your part but a chance to make life-altering decisions. An intervention can be the birth of a support system that will be there for you as you make your journey. The people in your life need to hold you accountable for your goals. Even if they might not have the answer, it’s impactful to recognize that people have your best interest at heart.

Find Care Through BRC Healthcare

Introducing an intervention for someone you care about can be quite challenging. The stronghold of addiction can transform them into a completely new persona. BRC Healthcare wants you to know that addiction treatment is just the next step. Taking the responsibility to receive treatment can be monumental for those seeking recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use disorders, reach out to one of the facilities today.