An Intervention Overview

If you have loved ones struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, helping them find hope and help has probably become your number one focus.

It seems like you’ve tried everything—begging, threatening, bargaining—that may work for a time, but in the end, they still continue to use or drink, leaving you back in square one.

So how do you best help them? You know, how do you have the kind of conversation they actually listen to? And convince them they actually have a problem and they do need help? How do you help produce the type of change that’s permanent? 

Enabling: When Helping Doesn't Help

To you, it’s obvious that the drinking or using is the problem. You feel responsible for their behavior and are compelled to try to save them from themselves.

While you think you are helping the recovering person, you are actually enabling him or her when you are locked into that struggle over control. They view you—or anything that prevents them from their addiction—as the problem. The struggle between the two of you is therefore seen by him or her as “the struggle,” which reinforces denial and prevents your loved one from seeing the addiction as the real issue.

To move on, you must accept this awful, but liberating, truth:

You Can't Control Their Addiction

Before you can convince your loved one to commit to lasting change, you must accept the fact that you cannot keep them from using. You did not cause the problem. You cannot control it. You cannot cure it. If you can allow the addict to suffer the natural negative consequences of their using, they may become motivated to change.

Sometimes, this means that they hit “rock bottom” before they make the decision to accept help. Somethings happens—a loss of relationship, financial ruin, jail, hospitalization—that shakes them up enough to accept help rather than continue drinking.

They Don't Have to Hit Rock Bottom

However, we believe a better way is to raise rock bottom by confronting your loved one about their addiction and motivating them to get treatment with influence and love. This process of motivating your loved one to go to treatment through confrontation and committing not to support them if they refuse is called Intervention, and that’s what this series is about.

An intervention is often the best way to help your loved one accept help and take the first step towards recovery. 

To increase the chance of success, you may need to hire a professional interventionist, but this section gives you as many tools as possible about how to conduct an intervention on your own. We are also on call, 24/7/365, to answer your questions.

The Intervention Steps

The intervention process can be divided into the following steps, each designed to help you love your friend and help them re-discover peace. For more detailed information, take a look at our comprehensive step-by-step intervention guide.


Be informed about your role in the recovery process. Take time to learn about addiction and denial because this knowledge will be foundational for a successful intervention.

What’s happening to my loved one?


Intervention is not done alone. Your loved one will be more open to listening to and ultimately believing if many loving relatives and friends say something.

Who should attend an intervention?


Scheduling the place and time for your intervention is key. Both where and when the intervention occurs can dramatically affect how successful your intervention is because of how well your loved one is be able to focus.

Where and when should I schedule the intervention?


The heart of the intervention is the moment when you—as friends and relatives—share your concerns for your loved one, often by reading a letter. Since this may very well be the most important letter you ever write in your life, you need to make sure you do it right.

How can I write a successful intervention letter?


Most significant events in your life have rehearsals—wedding rehearsals and plays—so you shouldn’t just “wing” your intervention. This section will help you schedule your intervention and then practice it.

What should I practice for the intervention?


By this point in the process, you should be well-prepared for your intervention, but there are a few tips we’d like to share with you before you start. We will also review how to respond to your loved one during the intervention.

What should I remember during and after the intervention?


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My drug addiction was controlling my life, and I was in a free fall heading towards rock bottom. The only path I could see was to keep using and hope for the best. That’s when I learned of another path, getting help and starting treatment. I’m now 3 years sober and have never been happier. The light is at the end of the tunnel, reach for it.

– A former guest