How to Stage an Intervention

Staging an intervention is a challenging but significant event. Through reality television, people often have a distorted view of how an intervention works. Drug addiction interventions should be carefully and thoughtfully outlined. Family and friends must offer support and voice concern to the person struggling with addiction. Interventions may be complicated, but with proper preparation and guidance, they have a high success rate.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is a planned opportunity to speak to someone about their destructive life patterns. Interventions are the starting point to change and frequently save people’s lives. Friends and family are commonly involved in an intervention. Interventions help the struggling addict understand the effect they are having on their loved ones.

Family and friends typically coordinate as a team to plan out the intervention. Team members should remember to stay on topic, not place blame or say hurtful things. There is a balance in letting the struggling person understand their condition’s seriousness while not blaming them and causing harm.

There are several ways to stage an intervention. Some involve coordinating with family and friends; others involve consulting a professional interventionist.

10 Steps of Staging an Intervention

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10 Steps of Staging an Intervention

When staging a drug addiction intervention, there are specific steps, or critical points, to keep in mind.

  1. Get Help

Sometimes, the best interventions involve a professional like a doctor, social worker, or professional interventionist. It’s helpful to call on friends and family to be present during the intervention. Interventions require a team effort, and a support system goes a long way.

  1. Form a Team

When staging an intervention, plan out a core group of organizers. It doesn’t always have to include a professional interventionist. A good intervention team usually consists of close friends, family members, and coworkers. It’s important to note to make sure no one on the intervention team has their substance issues.

  1. Devise a Plan

It’s essential to lock in a date with a specific time, location, and guest list. The plan should work as a guide to how the intervention will play out. It may include an outline of the event, along with what each person may say.

  1. Gather Information

Research the process. Learn about the addiction and recovery process. Learn about programs that rehabilitation centers offer, like a medical detox. Judging by personality, the person struggling with addiction may fit some programs better than others.

  1. Impact Statements

Each person attending the event should have something planned to say. Impact statements are directed toward the person struggling with addiction. They should be expressing how addiction has harmed their loved one. Substance abuse deeply affects relationships. Family and friends expressing the impacts of addiction on their relationships may help the person struggling to understand they are not only affecting themself. Impact statements come from love and understanding and not from a place of attack or blame.

  1. Offer Help

Friends and family attending the intervention should offer assistance to the struggling person. For example, let them know you will give them rides to treatment or attend group therapy sessions. Let them know they will not go through the process alone.

  1. Set Boundaries

Enabling and codependent behaviors must end. If the struggling person refuses treatment, let them know there will be repercussions if they do not get help now. To best help the struggling person, relationships must change.

  1. Rehearse

Interventions are often intense. Substance abuse and addiction are often emotional for everyone involved. It may help to rehearse the intervention with the team. Each person involved should know what they want to say and the points they want to get across.

  1. Expectations

Interventions do not always go well. People struggling with addiction often deny the severity of their situation. Make sure to have a plan for any scenario, including if they refuse help. Refer to the relationship-based repercussions.

  1. Follow Up

When offering support during an intervention, the team must follow through with their statements. It could be detrimental to the rehabilitation process if someone in the support group falls through with their support.

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What to Avoid at an Intervention

Each moment and word is vital during an intervention. Make sure each team member is aware of what to avoid at an intervention. Certain labels should not be used, such as “addict,” “junkie,” or “alcoholic.” These words may strike as accusatory and could hurt the situation. There should be a small number of people present at the intervention. Drug addiction interventions should involve a core group of friends and family, that’s all.

Attendees should avoid being upset during the intervention. It’s crucial to find ways to manage emotions, so the event is not based on someone else’s personal feelings. If the person struggling with addiction shows up to the intervention intoxicated, prepare to wait for them to sober up. 

Successful interventions are based on love, support, and honesty. An intervention is not:

  • Hurtful
  • An ambush
  • Coercive
  • Based in shame
  • Angry

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Types of Interventions

Each type of intervention may fit certain situations better. Each intervention style may fit certain subjects better concerning their personality and the severity of their addiction. These styles may assist in how to plan an intervention.

Crisis Intervention

Crisis interventions work best for severe cases. This type of drug addiction intervention commonly involves the support of police officers. In some circumstances, police officers attend the intervention and offer resources for the subject. These resources may include coordinating clinical support for a person struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, or both. Crisis interventions are often successful since the subject feels support from their loved ones and police officers instead of being treated as a criminal.

Brief Intervention

Brief interventions usually occur in a hospital, especially following an overdose or a similar substance-related event. This form of intervention typically consists of a brief one-on-one meeting between the subject and a counselor or medical professional.

The Johnson Model

The Johnson model is the most common style of intervention. The model is based on encouraging the subject to enter a rehabilitation program. The Johnson model’s basis is to show the subject that many people care about them and want them to be healthy. A primary goal is to show the person struggling with addiction that they have support and will have continued support through treatment.


This newer form of drug addiction intervention is similar to The Johnson Model. It essentially uses the same guidelines, but it typically involves the whole family and completely avoids confrontation. Similar to The Johnson Mode, ARISE interventions aim to enroll the subject into treatment.


The SMART model may be a follow-up to an already conducted intervention. SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-specific. This model helps loved ones be realistic about interventions and goal setting. It may hurt someone in treatment to set unrealistic goals. Each goal should be attainable and progressive.

Family Systemic Intervention

Substance abuse does not only impact the person struggling with addiction but the family too. Family systemic interventions focus on the subject and each family member involved. This type of intervention is often followed by creating specific support groups, individual and family therapy, and other therapy forms. Family systemic interventions are beneficial for situations where the whole family is deeply affected by the subject’s substance use.

Tips for a Successful Intervention

Interventions work best when they are outlined and calculated. The preparation is just as necessary as the implementation. Research has shown that interventions can be up to 90% effective in convincing the subject to get treatment. Successful interventions usually involve a professional. It is also to keep in mind:

  • Interventions are wholly about the person struggling with addiction. Successful interventions stay on task and focus on the planned subject matter.
  • Shame, abuse, or lashing out is not part of a successful intervention. Interventions are intended to show support and love for the struggling person.
  • Professionals have experience in most situations. The guidance of a professional may be a catalyst in getting the subject to treatment. Professionals are also equipped with skills to deal with mental health issues that sometimes co-occur with addiction.

Hiring a Professional Interventionist

Professional interventionists can help in figuring out the best way to stage an intervention. There are multiple ways to find an interventionist.

  • Ask for a referral from a therapist or doctor.
  • Locate a social worker through a local treatment center, hospital, or therapy office.
  • Ask family or friends for a recommendation.
  • Contact health insurance providers to see if hiring an interventionist is covered.
  • Seek out recommendations through the community. 

Find Help Today at Intrepid Detox

Showing support and understanding is essential to an intervention. Interventions are emotionally demanding for everyone involved, but it is key to focus on the person struggling with addiction. Individuals struggling with addiction may be in denial about the severity of their issues. It is crucial to utilize the steps above to have the best chances of turning your loved one to treatment. If the subject of the intervention knows and understands the support system they have, they will likely agree to treatment.

If you have any questions or need assistance regarding an intervention, please contact us today.