how to stage an intervention

Learning that your family member or friend is suffering from substance abuse can be incredibly heartbreaking. The idea that someone you love is struggling with such a severe issue will undoubtedly bring many questions to your mind.

How did this happen? Could I have prevented this? What should I do now?

These questions aren’t uncommon among families and individuals who are dealing with the effects of other people’s addictions. Such queries often lead to another important matter: how to stage an intervention for substance abuse and make sure the individual gets treatment.

What is an Intervention?

An addiction intervention is a meeting that takes place when a person’s struggle with substance use becomes problematic. Many times, a group consisting of family members and/or close friends will join with a professional interventionist to hold the meeting. They will present their case to the individual who is suffering from addiction, letting the person know the seriousness of the situation.

Before holding such a meeting, it is important for individuals to understand how to stage an intervention that is effective. After all, the person who is struggling may not be aware of the problems his or her addiction is causing.

In some cases, the person is aware of the dangers of substance abuse but may feel unwilling to change. Some people may become emotional or defensive during an addiction intervention. It is best to be prepared for whatever results may come during and after the intervention.

What Are Some Types of Interventions?

There are various types of addiction interventions. It is best to seek the help of a professional interventionist when planning to approach the person you love. With the help of a professional, you can determine the best and most effective type of intervention method to help your family member or friend.

Brief Intervention

A brief intervention is a short meeting that takes place in a one-on-one setting. The only individuals present in this type of intervention meeting are the professional interventionist or counselor and the individual suffering from addiction. Generally, this type of intervention takes place in a hospital setting, in school, or in a doctor’s office. Often, these interventions occur after one of the following events takes place:

  • The person is admitted to the hospital as a result of an overdose
  • A student is suspected of substance use or is caught at school using drugs or alcohol
  • A medical examination at the doctor’s office uncovers issues related to substance abuse

In some cases, however, a brief intervention may take place at the request of a concerned family member or friend.

Family Systemic Intervention

This type of intervention focuses on both the struggling individual and his or her family members. The Family Systemic Intervention model takes into account the fact that addiction affects the whole family, not just the individual suffering from addiction.

Relationships between spouses, parents and children, siblings, and so forth are all impacted when addiction is in the picture. A Family Systemic Intervention encourages the whole family to seek help. Therapy programs, such as group therapy and individual counseling, along with support groups may be suggested.

The Johnson Model

This is one of the most common types of addiction interventions. The Johnson Model works to get individuals to enter an addiction treatment program. Typically, one or more individuals will plan the intervention.

They will surround the struggling individual with support, sharing their love and concern for him or her. In the end, the goal is to make sure the individual enrolls in a substance abuse treatment facility.


A SMART intervention might include some elements of the Johnson Model. In other cases, SMART interventions take place in the form of community interventions. The idea of this intervention model is to set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-specific goals.

So, the individuals involved in the intervention can apply these components to their follow-up system, as they work to help the struggling individual move toward recovery.


This type of addiction intervention involves the entire family. The ARISE intervention model may be seen as less confrontational than other forms of intervention. Still, this model utilizes many of the same techniques found in the Johnson Model of intervention. When it comes to the ARISE intervention model, the main goal is to get the individual enrolled in addiction treatment.

Crisis Intervention

A crisis intervention typically involves police officers who offer medical resources or other types of aid to those who are suffering from addiction. Individuals who are struggling with mental health disorders or behavioral health disorders may be involved in a crisis intervention and police officers may coordinate with clinical support to make sure they receive the proper assistance and treatment.

How to Stage an Intervention: Step-by-Step

Confrontation is difficult. It’s especially difficult to address someone who is suffering from a substance use disorder. Finding the right balance between compassion and truthfulness can bring quite a bit of unrest to a person’s mind. But, knowing how to properly hold an addiction intervention and what to expect can thoroughly improve your approach and expectations.When you’re trying to determine how to stage an intervention for the person you love, you can think of it in terms of where, when, and who.

Where: Choose a location for the intervention.

You will need to determine where you should hold the intervention. It is best to choose a place where everyone can feel comfortable. The location should be either neutral or familiar to you and your addicted loved one.

Perhaps, you may want to hold the intervention at your home or the home of the struggling individual. Some interventions take place in medical settings, such as the hospital or doctor’s office. You know your loved one well enough to decide which setting might be the most effective place to have this meeting.

When: Decide when the Meeting will take place.

Choosing the right time to hold the intervention is of utmost importance. You’ll want to make sure you have enough time to let the conversation carry out properly. You may need an hour or more to reach a resolution. Strive to allow enough time to work through the discussion and make sure time does not hinder the meeting from being successful.

Who: Determine who will be involved in the intervention.

Outside of the Brief Intervention model, most types of interventions involve a group of people. Typically, this group includes some of the family members or close friends and a professional counselor or interventionist.

The intervention team should consist of people who can work together. It most definitely shouldn’t include people around whom the addicted individual feels uncomfortable. Finally, be sure your group involves individuals who can remain calm and focused on the matter at hand.

Before the meeting takes place, however, be sure to rehearse and prepare as much as possible. The intervention team should determine which points they will make during the meeting. The main focus should be on explaining the effects of the individual’s substance abuse and encouraging him or her to get treatment.

You will also want to go over any ultimatums you want to set. For example:

  • If the addicted individual is your spouse, you may choose to end the relationship if he or she doesn’t get treatment.
  • You may decide to stop paying the individual’s bills or helping them financially in any way.
  • You might choose to move out or request that the individual moves out in order to protect yourself or your children.

It is important to follow through on any ultimatums you mention to your loved one. Also, make sure everyone in the group is on the same page. This will help the intervention run more seamlessly.

How to Stage an Intervention: What Not to Do

intervention services

When holding an intervention for someone who is suffering from addiction, it is important to know what to avoid. Here are some things you should not do when staging an addiction intervention:

  • Don’t hold an intervention without a plan. Take the time to plan out the meeting, who will be present, what you all will discuss, where it will take place, when it will happen, and so forth.
  • Avoid using harmful words or labels. Using terms like “addict” or “drunk” can make your loved one feel attacked.
  • Do not blame the addicted individual. This meeting should not be a session in which the group blames or criticizes the individual suffering from addiction. That will discourage the person and it may cause him or her to become defensive.
  • Avoid postponing the results. If your goal is to make sure your family member or friend enrolls in a treatment program, do not postpone it. It is best to make sure the individual receives help immediately.

As you’re holding the intervention, keep in mind that your loved one may not respond exactly how you hope. This is why it is important to be prepared for any possible results of the intervention.

What to Do If Your Expectations Aren’t Met

Many people approach an intervention hoping that their family member or friend will see the light and choose to get help. But, what should you do if the intervention takes a turn for the worse? What should be the next step when things don’t go as expected?

The individual may become angry or upset as a result of the intervention. He or she may not decide to get treatment after all. If the intervention does not go well, it is best to regroup and come up with the next course of action.

If you gave the individual any ultimatums during the intervention, be sure to follow through with them. Most importantly, you must know that you have done the best you can.

You may also consider holding another intervention. Or, you may simply need to wait a little longer for the individual to come around. Your feelings have been made clear and your loved one now knows how the addiction has impacted you. Perhaps, he or she will experience a change of heart.

Achieve Wellness and Recovery is Here for You

As you face the uncertainty that surrounds your loved one’s addiction, you should know that you are not alone. You don’t have to fight this battle by yourself. Here at Achieve Wellness & Recovery, we strive to make addiction treatment accessible to all those who need it.

So, if you have been looking for treatment for your loved one in New Jersey, your search can end here and now. Located in Northfield, New Jersey, our substance abuse treatment facility is here to help you and your family.

Contact Us Today

staging an intervention

Addiction is a disease that can change entire families in the blink of an eye. But, we are here to offer your family a chance to find true freedom and healing. Whether your parent is struggling with prescription drug abuse, your spouse is suffering from alcoholism, or your child is dealing with illicit drug use, Achieve can help you with our drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Northfield, NJ.

The wait is over. Even if you’re not sure how to stage an intervention for your loved one, help is available. You can call us today to help your family member begin the journey to recovery. Our team of addiction treatment specialists will guide you and your family through the admissions process, work out any insurance details, and make sure your loved one gets the help they need.


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