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What is it Like to be Part of an Intervention for Substance Abuse?

Learn more about what addiction intervention is, how to make a team, and how to conduct a successful intervention.

What is a Drug Intervention?

People with substance use disorder are often in denial about their situation and resist getting any help. Sometimes, they are unaware of the negative effects their behavior has on the people around them and even themselves.

Helping a loved one who is battling any addiction is difficult. A straight, honest discussion might occasionally pave the way for rehabilitation. Most times, however, a more focused approach is necessary. The family members and loved ones of the person may need to join forces with each other to carry out a formal intervention. A drug intervention program can be an important aspect of the treatment process for someone struggling with addiction.

Drug Intervention Definition

A drug addiction intervention is defined as a situation where the family and friends of a person suffering from substance use disorder, join forces with each other to confront the addict and encourage them to commence treatment.1

During the intervention, the drug intervention team expresses their concern, discusses the effects of the addiction, and lays out what will happen if the person refuses to get help.

In a professional intervention, the family engages the services of a professional addiction intervention specialist, otherwise called an interventionist, to facilitate the discussion. The primary role of intervention specialists is to assist the addict’s family in planning and implementing structured meetings in which the group encourages a loved one to begin treatment.

Who Needs a Drug Addiction Intervention?

Your loved one needs addiction intervention help if they struggle with substance abuse and fail to realize how their addiction affects their lives and that of their loved ones. Instead of acknowledging the consequences of their addiction, the addict may blame others. In cases like this, drug addiction intervention is needed to create awareness of the effects of their addiction and to gently nudge the addict towards the path of recovery.

How to Do a Drug Intervention?

Intervention for drug addiction usually follows the steps laid out below.

Form The Intervention Team

The intervention team consists of people who participate in the confrontation with the addicted person. The team should consist of people who can follow through with the plan and structure set in place for the intervention.

Make a Plan

The planning committee of the intervention includes the intervention team and other people who care about the addicted person’s recovery. Often, a drug addiction intervention specialist is employed to equip the family members and friends with resources that increase the likelihood of success.

Gather Information

The planning group must gather as much information as possible about the addiction, how it affects the person, and possible treatment options. You are better prepared when you have as much knowledge as you can garner about the situation.

Offer Help

As soon as you have made your loved one aware of the negative impacts of their addiction, you must offer help. Lay out the options and encourage the person to pick one.

Set Boundaries

The planning committee must be able to establish boundaries before the intervention. This means that each member must be ready with a consequence if help the addicted person resists help.


A person suffering from addiction puts the drug above everyone and everything. It is important to let them know how the condition has affected everyone by giving examples or telling stories of past incidents. Rehearsing what you have to say before the actual intervention and taking notes will help keep you on track throughout the meeting.

Manage Expectations

Your plans need to be achievable. Otherwise, you and the rest of the intervention team might be disappointed. The intervention needs to be properly planned and members of the team must strive to set only realistic goals.

Follow Up

Don’t say things you won’t do. If the intervention works and your loved one commences treatment, follow up with the treatment. See a therapist to help you recover and develop coping skills. If the intervention fails, follow through with the consequences you had warned of during the intervention.

The Addiction Intervention Team

The addiction intervention team is not made up of just anybody. The team usually consists of four to six people who are important to the substance-abusing person.

Who Should Be in The Intervention Team?

Only people who are loved or respected by the substance-abusing person should be on the team. This may be the person’s best friend, siblings, parents, or any other relatives. If an interventionist is present, he or she may help the family decide who should be on the intervention team.

Generally, anybody that cannot stick to the plan or anyone whom the substance-abusing person has little regard for should not be part of the intervention team.

Some Tips for A Successful Intervention

Engaging an addiction intervention specialist before, during, and after the intervention can increase your chances of having good results. The addiction intervention specialist is better equipped with the knowledge and experience to provide guidance and suggest the best approach to the situation.

Another vital tip for a successful intervention is ensuring that there are no judgemental or emotionally abusive people in the intervention team. People who may have unmanageable mental health disorders should also not be on the team.

Finding Help for Addiction Intervention

A well-executed intervention for drug abuse will give your loved ones the motivation they need to set out on the path to a healthier and drug-free future. Organizing a drug addiction intervention can be overwhelming for team members. However, various drug abuse intervention programs and addiction intervention services are available to provide you and the rest of the drug addiction intervention team, with the resources you need to stage an intervention.

San Diego Detox is equipped with intervention specialists to assist you and your loved ones in getting help for those in your life who are struggling with addiction. Please contact us today for more information.

The Most Common Addiction Intervention Strategies

The following are some of the most common intervention strategies for drug addiction.

Crisis Intervention

A drug addiction crisis intervention is an intervention strategy that is used after a crisis such as an overdose or other unfavorable drug effects on a person’s life.2

Family Intervention

The family intervention for drug addiction model is based on the concept of the family’s mental and physical well-being. In contrast to some addiction intervention models, the family intervention strategy does not surprise the family member with a substance use disorder. This means that the addict is kept informed of every step of the actual intervention. They are essentially a member of the intervention team and are welcome at all intervention meetings.

The Johnson Model

The Johnson model of intervention, named after its creator, Dr. Vernon Johnson, is one of the most widely used forms of intervention. Members of the person’s social network confront the substance user about the damage their addiction has caused and threaten to take action if treatment is rejected.3


A “Person of Concern (PoC)” is the term used in ARISE intervention to describe a person who needs assistance. The PoC is offered an open invitation to participate in the intervention process from the onset without pressure, surprises, and coercion.4


SMART is an addiction intervention model that helps team members develop an achievable intervention plan for their loved ones to enter treatment. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.