Addiction may cause severe pain and discomfort for the individuals struggling and loved ones. The signs and symptoms of the condition may be mild to severe. For this reason, it’s imperative to get immediate and appropriate medical treatment for substance use disorder.

According to SAMHSA[1], around 8.1 percent of the US population need or regularly get addiction treatment. Examples of addictions that may require staging an intervention include alcoholism and abuse of street or prescription drugs.

This article provides helpful information about the process of staging an intervention for substance use disorder. It also explains each of the steps that people may need to take.

What Does an Intervention Involve?

An intervention simply describes a well-structured discussion between an individual experiencing substance use disorder and loved ones. In most cases, the conversation always involves an intervention specialist. Successful interventions are helpful for both the individual experiencing substance use disorder and loved ones in experiencing their feelings.

A typical intervention[2] provides examples of damaging behaviors that may impact a loved one involved with substance use disorder. It may also provide a prearranged treatment plan with visible steps, goals, and helpful guidelines. During the process of intervention, individuals can figure out the steps to take if a loved one refuses to undergo necessary treatment.

How Does an Intervention Work?

Staging an intervention doesn’t require any complicated steps. It’s essential to ensure that the entire process involves an interventionist. Here are the standard steps that staging an intervention may involve:

  1. Making plans: One of the first steps to the entire process of intervention is a plan from a loved one, which may be a family member or friend. When making plans, it’s imperative to consult a mental health professional to help in organizing an effective intervention.
  • Gathering information: In this step, the group members research and discover the condition of your loved one, including a possible treatment program[3].
  • Creating an intervention team: The essence of a team is to have enough hands on deck to help in the whole process. Each of the individuals in the team is responsible for setting a specific date or location. They may also be responsible for creating a structured plan.
  • Decide on specific actions: There may be a tendency for your loved one to decline treatment. In that scenario, it may be essential to have a set plan of action on what steps to take.
  • Make notes: One of the most essential and best approaches to intervention is taking notes of the words to say. Team members may need to describe incidents where addiction or substance use disorder caused certain challenges like financial or emotional problems.
  • Hold an intervention: In most cases, it may be essential to ask your loved one to the intervention site without stating the actual reason. Members of the team express their major concerns and present a treatment option.
  • Follow up adequately: After the intervention, it’s imperative to take steps that help in providing support to the loved one. Examples of this may include changing the patterns of everyday living to prevent destructive behaviors and engaging in counseling for recovery support.

How Can You Stage a Successful Intervention?

Since the intervention involves a loved one, it’s imperative to keep in mind that the process may cause anger, resentment, or conflict among family members, friends, and other loved ones. Here are helpful steps that may help in running a successful intervention:

  • Take enough time planning: It’s imperative to take enough time planning an intervention to avoid any complications. While creating a plan, consider the date and time when you may think your loved one is least likely to be going through symptoms of substance use disorder.
  • Perform necessary research: For a successful intervention, researching the substance use disorder will help in having a good idea of the condition. Note that each member should also have the same information about your loved one’s addiction challenges.
  • Consider a rehearsal intervention: The rehearsal intervention is essential because it helps prevent any significant errors that may occur in the actual process. During this rehearsal, you should plan calm responses to certain possible questions from your loved ones.
  • Avoid unnecessary confrontation: During the intervention, it’s important to treat your loved one with respect and have a conversation that isn’t hostile.
  • Ask for a decision: After the conversation, ask your loved one about their final decision. It may be inadvisable to give him or her too much time to think of accepting treatment. If your loved one decides to undergo treatment, ensure you have a plan to start.

What’s the Next Step Forward?

An intervention should cover the previously set expectations and recovery goals for the individual to feel better. It’s essential for the loved one experiencing substance use disorder to stay accountable while receiving treatment. Families[4] may need to enforce certain consequences for the loved one if he or she doesn’t meet the necessary goals. Note that it’s highly imperative to involve a medical expert.


  1. Rachel N. Lipari, Ph.D., Eunice Park-Lee, Ph.D., and Struther Van Horn, M.A, 2015, ‘America’s Need for And Receipt of Substance Use Treatment in 2015’, SAMHSA,
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); Office of the Surgeon General (US). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016 Nov. CHAPTER 4, EARLY INTERVENTION, TREATMENT, AND MANAGEMENT OF SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS. Available from:
  3. NIDA. 2020, September 18. Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from on 2021, June 26
  4. Lander, L., Howsare, J., & Byrne, M. (2013). The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice. Social work in public health, 28(3-4), 194–205.

Damilola is an expert medical content writer that specializes in developing health and mental health content for blogs. When he’s not writing, Damilola spends his time with his family and friends or spends time swimming.  

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