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Time for Tough Love: How to Stage an Intervention

how to stage an intervention

Not all illnesses are created equal. Some are especially difficult to treat, and some have far-reaching effects. Drug or alcohol addiction, in particular, has a way to impacting not just its victim but the victim’s entire world of family and friends.

If you’re watching a loved one suffer from addiction, you don’t have to be powerless. An intervention is a way for you and the rest of your loved one’s support system to come together toward a solution.


Of course, that’s easier said than done. If you’re not sure where to start, follow this step-by-step guide for how to stage an intervention.

How to Stage an Intervention

A successful intervention requires a mixture of precise details. To help everything go as smoothly as possible, follow these steps.

1. Consider Hiring a Professional

While hiring help isn’t a necessity, it’s important to know that it’s an option.

An intervention specialist is someone who knows the intervention process in and out. They can guide you through the entire process from start to follow-through, making the process easier for you.

Intervention specialists also know how to maximize your chances for a successful intervention. They can counsel you and the rest of your team about how to address the person with addiction and how to act throughout the process.

2. Assemble Your Team

One of the most important choices you’ll make while planning an intervention is deciding who will be in the room. Each person present will contribute to the atmosphere of the room, so make your choices wisely.

Select people who are close enough to the person with addiction that they’re important parts of their life. However, they also need to be people who can be supportive and calm.

If the person with addiction has a love-hate relationship with someone, that might not be the best choice because you want to avoid a fight.

Remember that guilt and shame won’t drive your loved one to get addiction treatment. An intervention is about support and motivation, not about insulting the person or degrading them for the choices they’ve made.

The goal is for them to move forward and get healthy knowing they have all of you behind them. You need team members who can maintain that attitude.

3. Script Your Words

Interventions can get emotional in a hurry. After all, you’re dealing with life-threatening matters. In this charged environment, you don’t want to struggle to find the right words.

Script out what you will say to your loved one word by word. Make sure every person on your team does the same. Invest the time to think through everything and make sure it sends the right message.

If you hire an intervention specialist, this also gives them the opportunity to look over your “script.” They can identify words that could spark problems and provide helpful feedback.

4. Plan Your Timing Wisely

Timing plays a powerful role in how successful your intervention may be. If the person is already in a bad mood when they walk in, they aren’t likely to be receptive. If they’re high or drunk, they won’t hear you at all because of the way drugs affect their brain.

Try to learn your loved one’s routine. If there are certain times of the day when they’re most likely to be sober, that’s when you should be planning your intervention.

Think about the events going on in the person’s life too. Do they have a stressful appointment or exam coming up? Don’t plan your intervention to take place close to that stressful time.

5. Select a Neutral Setting

So much of an intervention’s success depends on the atmosphere in the room. The first step in having the right mood is choosing the perfect venue.

A common mistake is to have the intervention at a family member’s home. The problem is that familiar places like these often have bad memories associated with them. It may take the person back to a time when they had a bad fight with their family member about their addiction.

It can also be a problem if the person with addiction feels too “at home” in the setting. When things get difficult, they may retreat to a bedroom or other room they’re comfortable in and stop your effort in its tracks.

Instead, choose a place that’s neutral without any past memories. It should be private enough that you can all speak candidly.

6. Rehearse and Use Role Play

As we mentioned, interventions are emotional situations. The best way to keep your cool and stay on track is to rehearse and get comfortable with your words.

Take the time to practice your “speech” aloud over and over. Every member of your team should do the same.

It’s also important for you all to practice together, though. Go through the process several times. Have someone role play as the person with addiction as well. Ask them to act out a variety of potential reactions so you can practice your responses.

7. Put Your Plan Into Action

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to follow through with your plan. Gather the team beforehand and make sure everyone is in the right frame of mind. If someone is feeling upset or is in a bad mood, it may be better if they sit out.

Throughout the intervention, remember that your group needs to play the role of the support system. Part of your mission is to show the person that you all have the resolve to be with them throughout their recovery. Prove that you can help them by staying calm and positive throughout the encounter.

Being the Life-Saving Force Your Loved One Needs

We won’t mince words: addiction is a serious condition. Chances are that your loved one has already seen the damage it does and that there’s a large part of them that wants a healthier life.

By planning and throwing an intervention the right way, you can empower that part of them and help them get the treatment they need. They can have a bright future, and it all starts with you learning how to stage an intervention. The steps above are a strong start.

If you’re ready to take that step, contact our addiction treatment center to find out how to get help for your loved one.