August 1, 2023

What is an Intervention?

Image of a group of people representing the question what is an intervention

When a loved one is struggling with addiction, it can be a distressing and challenging situation for everyone involved. An intervention is a carefully planned and structured conversation that aims to motivate individuals with substance use disorders to seek help and enter into addiction treatment.

In this guide, we will explore the following key issues:

  • What is an intervention?
  • How does an intervention work?
  • Do interventions work for alcoholics and drug addicts?
  • What to do before an intervention, during an intervention, and after an intervention.

When to Have an Intervention

An intervention is a formal process where family members, friends, and sometimes professionals come together to confront a loved one about their addiction and its impact on their life and the lives of those around them. The primary objective of a drug addiction intervention is to encourage the individual to accept the need for treatment and support them in seeking help for their addiction. 

Knowing when to stage an intervention involves recognizing the signs and behaviors that indicate a loved one is struggling with addiction and may need help. Consider these factors when determining the right time for an intervention:

  • Behavioral changes: Pay attention to significant behavioral changes in your loved one. Are they becoming increasingly secretive, isolating themselves from friends and family, or displaying erratic mood swings? Behavioral shifts, especially when accompanied by substance abuse, could be a clear indication of addiction.
  • Deteriorating physical health: Substance abuse often takes a toll on a person’s physical well-being. Look for signs of unexplained weight loss, bloodshot eyes, frequent illness, and neglect of personal hygiene. If you notice these signs, it might be time to consider an intervention.
  • Financial and legal problems: Addiction can lead people to engage in risky behaviors to support their habit, which can result in financial difficulties and legal troubles. Unexplained financial strain, legal complications, or encounters with law enforcement can be red flags for addiction.
  • Relationship strain: Addiction often causes strain on relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers. If your loved one’s addiction is causing conflicts, arguments, and damaged relationships, it may be an appropriate time to intervene.
  • A decline in work or school performance: Addiction can significantly impact an individual’s ability to fulfill their responsibilities at work or school. This is a diagnostic criterion of addiction. A noticeable decline in work performance, frequent absences, or failing grades can also suggest the development of addiction.
  • Health issues related to substance abuse: Substance abuse can lead to various health problems, including liver damage, respiratory issues, and heart problems. If your loved one’s health is deteriorating due to substance abuse, an intervention may be necessary to prevent further harm.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit: If your loved one has attempted to quit using drugs or alcohol but has been unsuccessful or continuously relapses, it could be time to consider an intervention as a more structured and supportive approach.
  • Denial and resistance: Individuals struggling with addiction often deny that they have a problem and may resist seeking help. If your loved one is in denial about their addiction or refuses to consider treatment, an intervention could be beneficial in helping them recognize the severity of the issue.
image of two people representing the question how does an intervention take place

How Does an Intervention Take Place?

An intervention is a carefully planned and structured process that typically unfolds along similar lines.

Form an intervention team

The first step is to gather a group of people who are close to the person struggling with addiction and genuinely care about their well-being. This intervention team typically includes family members, close friends, coworkers, or others who have a significant and positive influence on the person’s life.

Seek professional guidance

While some interventions may be conducted without professional help, it is advisable to consult with an intervention specialist or addiction professional. These experts bring experience, objectivity, and a structured approach to the intervention process, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Plan and educate

The intervention team, with the guidance of the intervention specialist, needs to learn about addiction, its effects, and treatment options. Education empowers the team to address the loved one’s addiction with compassion and understanding during the intervention.

Set goals and expectations

The intervention team should establish clear objectives and expectations for the intervention. These goals may include encouraging the loved one to accept treatment, providing them with the necessary support, and establishing boundaries and consequences if they refuse help.

Choose the right time and place

Selecting an appropriate time and location for the intervention is key. It should be a private and comfortable setting where the loved one feels safe and less likely to be defensive. Avoid conducting the intervention during emotionally charged or stressful moments or when the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Rehearse the intervention

Before the actual intervention, the team should rehearse their statements and messages with the guidance of the intervention specialist. This ensures that the messages are clear, non-confrontational, and focused on the impact of the individual’s addiction on themselves and others.

Stay calm and supportive

During the intervention, team members should remain calm, compassionate, and non-judgmental. Expressing love, concern, and support is more effective than engaging in arguments or blaming the loved one.

Offer treatment options

The intervention should present specific treatment options that have been researched and prepared in advance. This includes having a treatment plan ready, along with the logistics of admission to a rehab facility.

Set boundaries and consequences

The intervention team must communicate clear boundaries and consequences if the loved one refuses to accept help or continues their destructive behavior. This may include cutting off financial support, limiting contact, or other measures to protect their well-being.

Show unwavering support

Regardless of the loved one’s initial response, the intervention team should convey their unwavering support and willingness to assist them in their journey to recovery. Encourage them to seek help and assure them of ongoing love and support.

Follow up and provide support

After the intervention, the team should follow up with the loved one, whether they accepted treatment or not. Provide ongoing support, help them access treatment resources, and encourage them to stay committed to their recovery.

an image of someone representing the question what is an intervention

Do Interventions Work?

The effectiveness of interventions can vary depending on various factors, including the person’s willingness to accept help, the quality of the intervention, and the presence of a supportive network. When conducted with careful planning, compassion, and professional guidance, interventions can be successful in motivating individuals to seek treatment and make positive changes in their lives.

Interventions can be powerful tools for breaking through denial and resistance. They provide an opportunity for the person struggling with addiction to hear from their loved ones about the impact of their behavior on others and how much they are cared for. This can serve as a wake-up call, encouraging the person to accept treatment and begin their journey to recovery.

Involving an intervention specialist or addiction professional significantly increases the chances of a successful intervention. These professionals bring experience, objectivity, and expertise in dealing with the complexities of addiction and its emotional impact on individuals and families.

Interventions follow a structured process, ensuring that the messages conveyed to the individual are clear, non-confrontational, and focused on their well-being. The intervention team learns to communicate effectively and offer appropriate support, treatment options, and consequences if needed.

A robust support system of family and friends can greatly influence the success of an intervention. When the person feels loved and supported, they are more likely to consider the impact of their actions and make positive changes.

Remember: not everyone will respond positively to an intervention. Some may initially reject the idea of treatment, become defensive, or avoid acknowledging their addiction. In such cases, it’s the intervention team should remain patient and persistent, offering ongoing support and encouragement.

The availability of suitable evidence-based treatment options plays a central role in the success of an intervention. Having a well-researched treatment plan and access to reputable rehab facilities increases the likelihood of the individual accepting help.

The journey to recovery does not end with the intervention – rather, this is just the beginning. Long-term support and follow-up care are essential for maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse. Families and friends must continue to offer support, attend counseling sessions, and participate in support groups to create a nurturing environment for their loved one.

Interventions can also have positive effects on family dynamics by encouraging open communication, setting boundaries, and promoting healthier relationships.

While interventions can be highly effective, success is not guaranteed. Some may require multiple interventions or further persuasion to seek help.


What is an intervention checklist?

An intervention checklist is a step-by-step guide that helps individuals and their support group plan and organize an intervention effectively. It typically includes tasks like selecting a team, gathering information, setting goals, rehearsing speeches, choosing a meeting place, and defining consequences.

How do you initiate an intervention?

To initiate an intervention, start by contacting an intervention specialist or addiction professional. Collaborate with them to form an intervention team, gather relevant information about the person’s addiction, and plan the intervention process, including choosing a time and place.

How long should interventions last?

Interventions can vary in duration, but they typically last from 30 to 90 minutes. That said, the length may depend on individual response and the depth of the discussion. The main focus should be on delivering the message effectively and avoiding overwhelming the person.

A woman sits on a hillside at sunset to represent when to have an intervention

Connect your Loved One with Addiction Treatment

When your loved one is ready to move beyond drug addiction or alcoholism, Gratitude Lodge in Southern California treats all types of addictions in a safe and supportive haven free of triggers and distractions. Your loved one can even bring their pet to Long Beach or Newport Beach, CA. Here, they can begin their recovery journey by taking advantage of a supervised medical detox.

Following detoxification, your loved one will be stabilized and ready to address the psychological component of addiction in ongoing inpatient treatment. All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs combine holistic and science-backed therapies, such as:

Call 888-861-1658 today for immediate assistance and guidance from detox to discharge and beyond.

Want to learn more?

Recent Articles

Begin your journey
to recovery.

Get evidence-based treatment in a peaceful location, with a
team of dedicated, expert staff. 
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share on Email
Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
an image of clients getting fresh air while getting treatment at Gratitude Lodge's Long Beach rehab program

Holistic Therapy

Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
an image of clients sitting for therapy at Gratitude Lodge's Long Beach addiction rehab center


An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
an image of a woman who got help from Gratitude Lodge's Long Beach addiction treatment center

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
an image of a client and therapist at Gratitude Lodge's Long Beach addiction treatment center

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
an image of clients outside after getting help at Gratitude Lodge's rehab in Long Beach, California

Sober Living

Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
an image of clients at Gratitude Lodge's drug and alcohol rehab in Long Beach

Outpatient Treatment

Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
An image of clients going through therapy at Gratitude Lodge's rehab in Long Beach, California


Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
an image of clients at clients at Gratitude Lodge's Long Beach detox center

Drug & Alcohol Detox

A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.