How to complete a drug intervention

This Page was last reviewed and changed on April 25th, 2022

Content Overview

An intervention is a formal meeting of concerned, loving friends and family members who want to persuade an individual with a substance use disorder to enter drug and alcohol rehab. They’re typically staged when an individual has been struggling with addiction for some time, or if they’ve lost control of their life because of substance use.

A successful intervention is about more than just asking someone to quit; it’s also about making sure they have the support they need following the intervention to make a full recovery from addiction. On this page, we will explain how to plan and stage a successful drug intervention that is not only persuasive but also supportive.

What is a drug intervention?

A drug intervention describes a group of people coming together to talk to a loved one about their drug. This can concern any substance, whether it’s cocaine abuse, cannabis abuse or abuse of prescription drugs. The goal is to get the person into a drug rehab clinic, where they can receive professional help for their drug addiction. Drug interventions are often necessary because those with addiction typically deny that their usage is out of their control and will resist any attempts made by friends or family members to get them help.

Staging an intervention for a substance abuse disorder

Between April 2020 and March 2021, there were 275,896 people receiving drug treatment in the UK. When you consider how many cases go untreated, the extent of the issue becomes all too clear. Professional rehab treatment can be highly effective in helping a person overcome their addiction but getting them into rehab in the first place is often the biggest obstacle.

At UKAT, we recognise that friends and family often have the most persuasive voice when it comes to making a person address their situation. That is why interventions are such a powerful weapon in the addiction recovery process.

Two people embracing in group therapy

What to know before staging a drug intervention

Staging an intervention requires a lot of thought and planning. You need to consider everything from who to invite, where to stage the intervention and how you’ll get the person there. You will also need to try and ensure that they haven’t been using drugs before the intervention so that they are more receptive to listening to your concerns.

Do drug interventions work?

Drug interventions do work. However, they’re not always successful and it’s important to be aware of this before staging one. You should also know that whether or not an intervention is successful depends on the addict and their commitment to sobriety. What is most important is that you don’t give up on your loved one, even if they don’t immediately agree to seek help. However, you also need to make it clear to them that at some point you will have to think about what is right for you and other friends and family and so they need to make the necessary changes in their lives before it is too late.

Choosing the right time for an intervention

There’s no set time for staging a drug intervention; it all depends on the individual, their addiction and how much it has taken over their life. The best time for an intervention is when they are sober enough to hear what you have to say without getting angry or defensive. However, some people will still be in denial even if they haven’t used drugs for a few days.

Who should be invited to a drug intervention?

While there is no definitive answer to this question, including the right people will increase your chances of a successful intervention. Typically, an intervention will be a group of around five to eight people with close relationships to the person. This number will ensure that the intervention is not too big to handle so that you can stay focused and to the point.
Some common attendees include parents, siblings or other family members, partners and close friends, as well as the person’s doctor, mentor or religious teacher.

two people hugging during a group therapy session

It is very important that you don’t invite anyone who may cause trouble at the intervention or who has a negative relationship with the person. This may include people who your loved takes drugs with or those who may upset them such as an ex-partner or a family member they have fallen out with. There may be people who have a different attitude towards certain drugs who may sympathise with using cannabis or other drugs that are perceived to be less serious. It is usually best not to invite these people so that everyone at the intervention maintains focus on the loved one who is struggling with drug addiction.

What happens during a drug intervention?

The first part of a drug intervention is the opening where everyone present at the meeting talks about how they feel and why their loved one needs to get help. This helps show your friend or family member that you care for them, as well as giving them chance to explain if there are any reasons why they can’t go into rehab (i.e. they have financial responsibilities).

Once the opening is done, you will move on to talking about how their drug addiction has affected your life and finally, go over rehab treatment options with them (including why it’s important for them to get help immediately). It can feel like a long process but don’t rush anything; take things at the pace that will be most effective for reaching your loved one.

What are the goals?

The ultimate goal of an intervention is to get your loved one to enter an alcohol and drug rehabilitation clinic. However, there are other short-term goals that you may want to consider before staging an intervention. These could include getting them to admit they have a problem, agreeing to come and live with you so you can make sure they aren’t using drugs or agreeing to an initial GP appointment.

Tips for a successful drug intervention

There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of having a successful drug intervention. These include having a strong support system, choosing the right time for an intervention and making sure everyone invited is supportive of you. It’s also important to have realistic expectations about what will happen during the meeting so that you don’t become discouraged if your loved one doesn’t immediately agree to get help.

Here are some tips on how to stage successful drug intervention:

Find a time when everyone is available

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when staging a drug intervention is getting everyone together at the same time. This can be especially difficult if family members or friends live far away. Speak to everyone you intend to invite and find out what their availability is like. Then, try to choose a date and time when most of them will be able to attend.

You will also need to check the availability of your loved one so that they don’t need to leave halfway through to go to work or to pick up their children from school. It’s also important to try and speak to them when they are sober and haven’t used any drugs.

Choose a private, formal spot

It’s important for a successful intervention to have a private and formal setting. This means that you shouldn’t hold the meeting in your living room or at a restaurant. Instead, choose somewhere like a doctor’s office or your local church hall. This will show your loved one that it is a serious matter and that you’re all there to support them. You can also do it in the house if necessary – just make sure you set a formal tone.

Plan the speaking order

One of the biggest mistakes people make during a drug intervention is that they make assumptions about who should talk when. This can lead to hurt feelings, arguments and broken relationships between the people involved in the meeting.

Instead, the interventionist should have a plan in place for who will be speaking when. If you’re planning to invite your loved one’s spouse, then they can speak first. Then, the person who is most affected by the addiction can talk (usually this will be a family member or friend). Finally, the interventionist will give their closing remarks.

Rehearse the intervention

If possible, it’s a good idea to have a rehearsal intervention before the actual meeting. This will help to ensure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and say when the time comes. It will also give you a chance to practice your own delivery and make sure that nothing will be missed during the meeting.

Stay on script

Order and structure are key when staging a drug intervention, it’s important to stick to the script. This means that you shouldn’t try to be confrontational or emotional with your loved one. Instead, you should calmly express your concerns and why you think they need help. You should also avoid using judgmental language or making threats.

People embracing in alcohol rehab

Use warm and open body language

One of the best ways to show your loved one that you care is by using warm and open body language. This means that you should make eye contact, maintain an open posture and use relaxed gestures. It also helps to keep your tone of voice low and soothing.

Stay calm

It can be difficult to stay calm during a drug intervention, but it’s important to do so. If you become emotional or aggressive, your loved one may become defensive or refuse to engage. This will make it more difficult to get them the help they need.

Don’t give up

Staging a drug intervention can be difficult, but it’s important not to give up. If your loved one doesn’t agree to get help right away, keep in touch with them and continue to offer your support. This will make it easier to convince them in the future when they are ready for rehab.

Research treatment centres before the intervention

If your loved one agrees to get help, it’s important that you have a drug rehab centre ready for them. Prepare yourself ahead of time by doing some research so that you can give your loved one the best possible chance of success.

At UKAT, we have professional interventionists who can help you to plan and stage a successful intervention. During the meeting, they will guide your friends and family through their delivery so that everyone knows what to say when the time comes. We also have a number of drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres across the country that can offer your loved one the best possible care and support.

If you’re struggling to cope with a loved one’s addiction, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can help you to find the resources you need and guide you through the process of staging a drug intervention.

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Choose the right drug addiction treatment programme

Not all drug interventions are successful. This is often because the person doesn’t receive the right type of addiction recovery treatment. If you’re not sure which programme is right for your loved one, call us and we can help. We have recovery programmes for every type of substance use disorder including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and cannabis abuse as well as addictions to prescription medication.

What happens next?

When it comes to effective addiction treatment the best time to start is always right now so if you need help planning or staging an intervention for a loved one get in touch with us today. We can talk you through the process or help to arrange one of our professional interventionists to stage the meeting for you. Together, we can help your loved one make the positive changes they need in their life.

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If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment programme but experience a relapse within 30 days of leaving, we will welcome you back for complimentary 30 days of treatment.*

* Click here to learn more or contact UKAT directly for rehab availability.

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