When is an Intervention Necessary?

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How to Help an Addict
Tips for How & When to Stage an Intervention

Do you have a family member or a close friend who has been struggling with severe drug or alcohol addiction? At Guardian Recovery, we understand how difficult this can be. No matter how many ultimatums you have set, or how earnestly you have begged your loved one to quit, they continue to deteriorate in front of your eyes. We understand how helpless it can feel to watch a loved one waste away. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help. It can be difficult to break through the denial and resentment that someone who has been struggling with addiction is likely to feel, but with professional help and a little bit of patience, you can help pull your loved one from the trenches and get them started on the road to recovery.

If your loved one has become an immediate danger to themselves or to others, it might be a good idea to stage an intervention. At Guardian we work closely with several professional interventionists who are available to travel anywhere in the country to help a family in need. If you feel backed into a corner, contact us today. We will put you in touch with a professional interventionist.

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Staging an Intervention Before “Rock Bottom”

When is the right time to stage an intervention? As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to stage an intervention as soon as a substance use disorder has become dangerous. Maybe your loved one has been repeatedly driving while intoxicated and gotten more than one DUI. Maybe your loved one has continued to use heroin intravenously despite a recent overdose. There is a common concept that it is a good idea to let an addicted loved one hit their own “rock bottom.” When someone hits “rock bottom” it figuratively means they are at the lowest point of their lives. The problem with waiting for someone to hit this point is that “rock bottom” might have horrendous consequences such as serious legal troubles, vehicular manslaughter or overdose death. Rather than waiting for things to completely spiral out of control, we recommend staging an intervention as soon as it becomes clear your loved one is incapable of making rational decisions.

How to Stage an Intervention

Once you make the decision to stage an intervention, what steps do you take? We have complied a list of 8 tips for preparing for and hosting an intervention.

8 Tips For Hosting an Intervention

  1. Educate Yourself  As an initial step we recommend thoroughly educating yourself on the disease of addiction. Learning about the chronic and relapsing nature of addiction will help you understand what your loved one is going through and allow you to come from a place of compassion and understanding rather than frustration and resentment. Before even contacting an interventionist, it might also be a good idea to reach out to a licensed therapist with a personal background in substance abuse and mental health. Once you have educated yourself about addiction, and worked with a therapist who can help you cope with your situation, the next step is to get in touch with an interventionist.
  2. Utilize a Professional Interventionist – Attempting to stage an intervention without professional guidance is never a good idea. If you do, the whole could backfire and you might very well push your loved one even further away. Staging an intervention is a multi-phased process that should be carried out under the close guidance of a trained professional. If you are ready to begin the intervention process, contact Guardian Recovery today.
  3. Plan a Small Group – You and the interventionist will likely come up with a small group of family members and close friends who are going to be present at the intervention. It is important that the intervention team is made up of people who have been directly impacted by the substance abuse disorder.
  4. Write Your Feelings – Everyone who is going to be directly involved in the intervention will likely write a letter to the addict or alcoholic detailing how the addiction has mentally and emotionally impacted them. These letters should express concern about the well-being of your loved one and provide very specific examples of times when their addictive behavior has had a negative impact. These letters should be honest and direct without placing blame or attacking.
  5. Choose Treatment Options – During the intervention the addict or alcoholic will be presented with treatment options that are immediately available. In most cases the interventionist and the intervention team comes up with a medical detox, a residential inpatient treatment center and a potential aftercare plan. The idea is to present a plan your loved one can immediate say yes to at the intervention.
  6. Set & Keep Personal Boundaries – It is important that you determine what consequences you are willing to follow through with if your loved one choses not to seek treatment. Some examples might be that your loved one can no longer live with you, that you will no longer provide financial assistance or that you will need to stop communication for your own well-being. These consequences should be thoroughly explained from a place of love during the intervention.
  7. Follow Up With Your Interventionist – Should your loved one refuse treatment, the interventionist will follow up regularly. The interventionist will help you maintain the boundaries you have set and stand by the consequences you have implemented. The interventionist will also help you if your loved one develops a new level of willingness to seek treatment.
  8. Keep Your Expectations In-Check – When it comes to staging an intervention it is extremely important to keep your personal expectations in check. No matter how well-planned the intervention is, there is always a chance your loved one will refuse treatment. If this happens, it doesn’t mean that all is lost. Important seeds have been planted. You can feel better knowing you have done everything in your power to do.

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A Series of Ups & Downs

If your loved one agrees to receive the help you offer, it doesn’t mean the path will be easy. You are going to feel an overwhelming amount of relief, no doubt; but the hard work is truly just beginning. It is important to understand that addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease. An individual will have to be diligent in their pursuit of recovery, or relapse can occur. Additionally, the mental and emotional challenges that arise after an individual gets sober can be difficult. Your loved one has anaesthetized their feelings for a long time. Working through stagnant emotions and learning to live life sober is a process. You are going to hit high points and low points throughout the journey.

How can you prepare? The first and best thing you can do is take the necessary steps to heal yourself. If you have been dealing with an addicted loved one for any period of time, your own mental and emotional health have undeniably suffered. Schedule regular appointments with an individual therapist, read up on the importance of self-care and seek out a support group in your area for the loved ones of people struggling with addiction (like Al-Anon). At Guardian Recovery we are always available to offer guidance and support; contact us today for more family-oriented resources.

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When you or your loved one is ready for help, Guardian Recovery will be here. Our admissions process is simple and straightforward and can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. We provide a complimentary assessment, a free, no obligation insurance benefit check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you or your loved one has to do is ask for help. We will take care of the rest. If you are interested in learning more about the crisis intervention services we offer, or our treatment options, contact us today. Our Treatment Advisors are standing by 24/7 to assist you.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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