How to Effectively Stage a Drug and Alcohol Intervention

How to Effectively Stage a Drug and Alcohol Intervention

Alcoholism can severely alter the addict’s life and devastate and destroy his/her family. It can negatively affect the individual’s self-esteem, mood, career, friendships and romantic relationships. In many situations, friends and family have tried talking to the addict in the past about his/her alcohol consumption, but he/she could not or would not listen.

If you have a loved one that is an alcoholic, you are probably extremely frustrated and concerned for your friend, child, parent, relative and/or co-worker. It is not too late to help the person you care about. If someone in your life is an alcoholic and will not acknowledge that he/she has a serious life-altering problem, then it is time to stage an intervention.

If you are interested in staging an intervention, you must be cautious and sensitive in your approach. It is important that you continue with the intervention, even if it becomes intense and challenging in the room. Remember you are saving someone’s life.

Effective ways to stage a drug and alcohol intervention:

1. Talk to an Alcohol Counselor That Specializes in Interventions

If you are planning to stage an intervention, it is important that you contact an alcohol counselor that specializes in interventions. An interventionist has been trained in how to deal with the aggression, hostility, resistance and “excuses” that you will encounter during the intervention. Make sure you discuss any concerns that your loved one will have to seeking treatment with the alcohol counselor. It is important to be prepared for any possible reactions before you go into an intervention.

2. Select a Time and Place For The Intervention

The next thing you want to do if you are planning an intervention is to select a time and place for the intervention. It is important that you select a place that is not only neutral, but also provides a sense of safety and security. You may want to stage an intervention at the counselor’s office, a friend’s home, a relative’s house or at a rented clubhouse. The venue that you select should be spacious enough so that everyone in the room feels comfortable.

Be sure to make sure that no children are present during the intervention.  It is also important to choose a time when you expect the alcoholic to be sober. Your loved one will be angry, hurt and confused when he/she realizes what you are doing, but you must stay open and calm throughout the intervention.

Once the intervention is over, it is important that your loved one have a treatment center to go to immediately (if he/she agrees to seek treatment). You will want to discuss this option with the alcohol counselor and arrange treatment before the intervention. If you loved one agrees to seek treatment, it is paramount that you stay with him/her until he/she arrives at the treatment center. You may need to fly with your loved one to the treatment center or you may need to drive them. You will need to arrange transportation before the intervention.

3. Develop a Plan To Get Alcoholic to The Location at The Specified Time

After you have selected a time and place for the intervention, you will need to develop a plan to get your loved one to the intervention. It must be a realistic plan – one that will ensure that the alcoholic arrives at the preselected location and the specified time. You should arrive approximately 1 hour before your loved one arrives – to go over details, set-up, prepare emotionally and make any last minutes changes.

4. Rehearse The Intervention

Prior to the intervention, it is important that all of the participants (excluding the alcoholic) rehearse the intervention. It is important that everyone know their role(s) in the intervention. The structure of the intervention may look like this: Someone begins the intervention, next those who want to speak at the intervention are given a chance (one at time) and lastly someone closes the intervention. It is important that someone accompany the alcoholic to the treatment center, if he/she chooses.

5. Share Your Feelings

Prior to the intervention, write down everything you want to say to your loved one. List events that have hurt you, ways that your loved one has changed since he/she began drinking and how you would like to see his/her life change for the better in the future. Make sure your loved one knows that you care about him/her and that you will be there for him/her unconditionally. Those who want to participate in the intervention should write his/her thoughts down in a letter format.

Once the intervention begins, remain calm, open and honest. The first thing that will happen is someone (a friend, relative or co-worker) will escort your loved one to the preselected location. The escort may tell your loved one that he/she is going to a party or to see a relative or friend.

Once your loved one arrives at the intervention, the alcohol counselor will greet him/her and calmly explain the reason for the intervention. Family, friends and/or co-workers will then have a chance to share his/her feelings with the alcoholic. This may take the form of prewritten letters or words that come directly from your heart.

The most important thing you and the other participants can do is to heavily emphasize how the alcoholic’s actions have hurt you and/or damaged your relationships. Do not criticize your loved one for his drinking or assign blame – that will cause your loved one to feel ostracized, which may cause him/her to flee. It is also important that you explain to your loved one that he/she has hurt you, but that you love him/her regardless. Let your loved one know that you support him/her and that you will be there for him/her during treatment.  Each participant should encourage the alcoholic to seek treatment.

6. Contact The Treatment Center

At the end of the intervention, contact the treatment center (if the alcoholic has agreed to treatment). Remain with your loved one until the treatment center is ready for him/her to come. Escort your loved one to the treatment center and give the prewritten letters along with any other pertinent information to the treatment staff. Your loved one will be scared so reassure him/her that you love him/her and everything will be alright.


Lamm, B. (2011). The intervention book: Stories and solutions from addicts, professionals, and families. San Francisco, CA: Conari Press.

Kelly, A. & Gray, T. (2011). Alcohol and drug interventions. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform.


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