Your loved one has an addiction, and the signs flash like glaring lights. Their behavior has become erratic. That person looks increasingly disheveled and has been fired from work or is failing miserably at school.

There is a real fear that addiction is present, and it could put them on a collision course with the prison system, a gamut of health problems, and/or death. 

An intervention is the one solution that can get your loved one the help that they need. In fact, about 90 percent of interventions succeed in getting someone into treatment, according to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS). 

Read on to learn how to stage an effective intervention and the standards needed for one, according to established models.    

What Exactly Is an Intervention?

AIS states that an intervention is an opportunity to disrupt someone’s destructive life patterns. It is also a carefully orchestrated session where family and friends gather to confront a loved one about their addiction. 

It is in this structured setting that concerned parties share accounts about the impact the subject’s addiction has had on them. They also share how the addiction is damaging the person at the center of the gathering. 

The goal is to make the subject aware of the severity of the problem with the hope that they will get treatment. When loved ones unite in this manner, it can help create that moment of clarity where the subject becomes aware of the consequences of their issue. If the meeting follows proper protocols, that person can begin to understand the seriousness of their addiction, particularly how it hurts the people closest to them.  

Before setting up an intervention, you want to consider important elements that can help maximize the prospect of an effective meeting. This begins by assessing whether the subject has an addiction in the first place. 

Signs of Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as “as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.” 

When someone has advanced to the stage of addiction, their substance of choice had become the center of their lives. They will exhibit outward signs of this state, which manifest as physical, behavioral, and psychological signs. 

The Physical Signs Can Be:

  • Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
  • Changes in appetite
  • Strange sleep patterns
  • Runny nose or sniffling
  • Unexplained and sudden weight changes
  • Shaking, tremors, or poor coordination
  • Intoxication signs such as slurred speech
  • Unusual odors

Some of the most common behavioral signs include:

  • Strained relationships
  • Secretive or suspicious behavior
  • Trouble at work, school, or with the law
  • Legal issues like arrests or charges
  • Failing performance at work or school
  • Changes in social circles, new friend groups
  • Unexplained need for money, constantly asking for cash
  • Stealing money or valuables
  • Lack of control with drugs or alcohol
  • Increased tolerance (drinking or using more before it’s effective)
  • Using drugs or alcohol when it is dangerous (i.e., drinking and driving)
  • Lack of self-care, poor hygiene

The Addiction Signs That Are Psychological In Nature Also Include:

  • Fearful, panicked, anxious, or paranoid without a clear cause
  • Lethargy, lack of motivation
  • Unusual surges of energy
  • Strange and sudden mood swings
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Angry outbursts or bouts of rage

Advice on Staging an Intervention

The Mayo Clinic advises that intervention meetings accomplish the following:

  • Provide the subject with examples of destructive behaviors and how those behaviors have affected the subject with the addiction and the person’s family, friends, and colleagues
  • Offer a prearranged treatment plan that includes clear steps, goals, and guidelines
  • Clarify what will happen if the person refuses to accept treatment

In addition to those objectives, you will want to ensure that your intervention meets these criteria:


This is the most important. Why? Because without careful planning, an intervention can go off the rails — with ease. This means that your family members must already know what they are going to say and have the letters they plan to read already written. It also helps to have them rehearse the written letters they plan on reading.


The best interventions occur when subjects are at their most physically and mentally balanced. They should never arrive at the intervention high, drunk, or in the midst of withdrawal or else the meeting will not work.


That means it stays civil in tone and content and never stays objective. Because interventions can be intense and emotion-packed, they can easily become personal, where the subject feels under attack. This can sabotage the purpose of the meeting: getting your loved one to admit they need treatment.


This is also a product of proper planning. When an intervention sticks to the script or adheres to an actionable plan, it lessens the likelihood of derailments. It can also help you avoid the meeting from devolving into a personal, attack-ridden event.


Any misleading, lying, or equivocating with the person at the center of the meeting can undermine the entire intervention. It is paramount that you facilitate an environment where honest and earnest exchanges take place. Honesty will give the subject an accurate perspective on their addiction and its impact on loved ones.


Even the most organized intervention can fail because the subject gets defensive about their substance use. They can throw up objections why they do not need treatment, uttering statements such as these: “I don’t have a problem. I can stop at any time.” or “This is my problem, and I can handle it on my own. I don’t need help.” It is important to anticipate objections and excuses while preventing clear examples of past events involving a subject’s substance abuse. Doing so can diffuse those challenges.


See below.

The Benefits of Hiring A Professional

The life of your loved one is at stake. This is why it is critical that your planned intervention adheres to best practices to accomplish the end goal: getting your loved one into treatment. 

You can bolster your chances at achieving this outcome by hiring a certified intervention professional (CIP). A professional interventionist can provide the following benefits: 

  • They will help you and your family members prepare and stage an intervention.
  • They will also help you understand what to do and what to avoid when your loved one leaves for treatment.
  • They can arrange treatment options, including where to send your loved one for therapy.
  • They can set this all up before the actual intervention takes place.

A CIP is also trained to meet professionally established standards for interventions.  

Professional Intervention Standards

Thankfully, there are professional intervention standards that can serve as models for conducting effective gatherings. It is up to you to decide which method works best for your situation. One popular model for families, according to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), is the regular intervention model and the Family Systemic Model

This model involves family members and promotes healing for relatives as well.

AIS states that a standard intervention has five points, which are:

  • All meetings before the intervention only involve the family members. The person who is in active addiction is not told about the intervention.
  • The intervention occurs only once — this is strictly for effectiveness.
  • An intervention occurs in a controlled environment that includes a trained counselor.
  • Once the intervention occurs, daily life must go on.
  • The person in active addiction must choose whether or not to enter rehab. Whether they agree to it or not, the family must stick firmly to the consequences that were outlined during the intervention.

A different intervention approach, according to the AIS, is the Family Systemic Model, which  consists of these steps:

  • There are no planned meetings that are hidden from the addicted person. In fact, when a meeting is set up with a trained interventionist, the person goes to the very first one.
  • During the meetings, all family members and the addicted person openly discuss the way the addicted person’s behavior has impacted each one’s lives. It is not a one-way conversation — it can go back in forth in a controlled manner.
  • Instead of having one big meeting for the intervention, there could be several meetings a week, and the process can last for months at a time.
  • Both the person in active addiction and family members commit to entering counseling. Most likely, the person of concern will attend an inpatient rehab to work through their addiction. Afterward, the person will join the family therapy sessions that occur while in rehab. The family commits to therapy sessions while the addicted person is in rehab as well as afterward as one family unit.

What Professional Treatment Entails

The goal of professional treatment is to address your family member’s addiction by addressing its impact on their mind, body, and soul. 

A professional drug treatment program will see to it that the substance of abuse is removed from the body. This process is called medical detoxification, and it is administered through acute treatment. A medical staff provides around-the-clock care and supervision while treating any concerning withdrawal symptoms that arise.  

For severe addictions, there is clinical stabilization, which involves a comprehensive therapy and counseling plan that helps your loved one discover the underlying cause of their addiction. 

Should they need counseling and therapy on a part-time basis, there is outpatient care. 

After treatment is completed, a caseworker can help your loved one get connected to a recovery community, which can provide support and mentorship. 

Get Help Today

You can help your family member escape the grips of addiction. We can provide intervention resources and help you locate a treatment program that can get your loved one sober. 

Call 855-956-4940 anytime, day or evening, for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable addiction recovery specialists. They can help you find the right treatment option. You can also contact us online for more information. 

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