If someone you love is struggling with addiction, it’s natural to feel frustrated—even hopeless. Perhaps you talked to the person about their substance abuse, but your words fell on deaf ears. Your loved one may be in denial about the seriousness of their problem, or they may have claimed they were going to get help but never took the next step.There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to convince your loved one to seek help, but an intervention can be effective. In this article, we’ll talk more about interventions and discuss when it’s time to try one.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is an organized gathering of an addicted person’s loved ones, each of whom tells the person how their drug or alcohol abuse impacts both themselves and others. The goal of the intervention is to to convince them to enter treatment.

It’s possible to plan an intervention without any help, but it’s wise to utilize the services of a professional interventionist. A trained interventionist will help each participant to plan what they need to say, will help organize the intervention itself and will help keep the conversation on track, preventing emotions from boiling over and derailing the intervention.

An intervention should not involve too many people—addiction treatment experts agree that a large group can overwhelm the person and cause the intervention to fail. The recommended number of attendees is four to six people, and they should all be people who the target of the intervention loves and respects.

When Is an Intervention Appropriate?

In a perfect world, every person suffering from a substance use disorder would make the choice to seek treatment on their own. However, denial can run dangerously deep. There are many cases when an intervention is the best way for friends and family to rally around their loved one and offer help. Some signs that an intervention may be necessary include:

Intervention for Addiction

  • The person doesn’t see the dangerous consequences of their substance abuse
  • The addicted person has been hospitalized for an episode related to their substance abuse
  • Children or other dependents of the person are being put at risk
  • The person talks about suicide or has attempted suicide

Does It Work?

Although most interventions are successful, there are times when these planned meetings do backfire. Emotions tend to run high at interventions, and it’s easy for tempers to get out of control. However, an intervention that is led by a professional is more likely to achieve the desired outcome. Research by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence shows that 90 percent of interventions managed by professionals conclude with the addicted person agreeing to seek treatment.1

Planning an intervention won’t guarantee that your loved one will recover. However, an intervention can remind your loved one that you care about them and are ready to support them in their recovery. With the assistance of a professionally led intervention, you might be able to help your loved one break through the wall of denial and turn their life around.


  1. https://ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/intervention-tips-and-guidelines