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How to conduct an intervention

Written by Brandon Okey. Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy.

It’s challenging to deal with a loved one’s addiction, but an intervention can be a critical step. According to NIDA, nearly 21 million Americans battled addiction disorders in 2022, while nearly 92,000 drug abusers overdosed in 2020.

But there is hope. According to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), the success rate of interventions, defined as the individual agreeing to enter treatment, is between 80 and 90 percent.

This guide will offer step-by-step advice on organizing a compassionate and effective intervention, from gathering the right support to expressing concern without judgment.

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If you’re struggling with addiction and you find yourself unable to kick the habit, you can count on Ardu’s addiction treatment center. We provide treatment and compassionate support you need to regain control of your life.

My daughter is in Ardu and she tells me how much she loves it there. As a mother of a person with both mental health and addiction issues, I was of course scared. I wanted her to be in a place that had good people, clean, intensive care.  A place that my daughter would be able to open up and grown and become clear and sober. EVERYONE is so kind and caring its unbelievable…

Tina Bloxham


What is an intervention?

An intervention is a planned gathering of family members, friends, and sometimes colleagues or professionals to confront someone about their addiction. The purpose of an intervention is to directly and non-judgmentally express concern about the severe repercussions of one’s addiction while urging them to stop destructive behaviors and accept help. 

People struggling with addiction often cannot accurately assess the severity of their situation or the need for help. They will often downplay or deny the extent of their addiction, and refuse to acknowledge the harm it causes to them and their loved ones. The people who witness the effects of their addiction firsthand often recognize the situation’s urgency and identify the need for an intervention before the addict can. 

While it can occasionally get heated, an intervention aims to communicate concern and the necessity of seeking help before addiction gets out of control. It’s important to know when an intervention is truly needed, as there are signs that indicate that a person is in desperate need of care and support.

Addiction is a serious problem. If you or someone you know is struggling and needs the care and support of a residential treatment center, please contact Ardu Recovery Center. We can provide customized treatment plans with a holistic approach to ensure a smooth path to recovery and effective coping strategies.

What are the signs that an intervention is necessary?

It can be difficult to recognize when addiction has taken hold and when an intervention is necessary. There isn’t a single warning sign that indicates the need for an intervention, but there are some red flags to look out for.

Here are some of the common signs that an intervention may be the right course of action to address an addict’s issue:

  • They have made promises to cut back or quit but have been unable to follow through, despite negative consequences.
  • They have withdrawn from family, friends, work obligations, or things that were once important to them.
  • Their personality and behavior have drastically changed: their mood changes, they’ve started being dishonest, secretive, or easily irritable.
  • They continue using drugs or alcohol even when their physical or mental health has deteriorated. 
  • They don’t have control over their addiction.
  • They have experienced recent crises or trauma such as DUI or arrests, job loss, accidents, relationship conflicts, or breakups related to their addiction.
  • Their tolerance has increased, requiring more substance to achieve effect.
  • They have unsuccessfully tried to quit on their own multiple times, relapsing within days or weeks.
  • They frequently borrow money from loved ones to obtain drugs or alcohol.
  • Their appearance and hygiene have significantly declined.

How to conduct an intervention

An intervention is a complex, emotional process, but when done thoughtfully it can motivate a loved one to seek the lifesaving treatment they need. 

The basic steps to conducting a successful intervention are:

  1. Consult an intervention specialist. Have an expert guide you in carefully constructing an intervention customized to your loved one’s needs and situation. 
  2. Form a committed intervention team. Choose 3-5 people who hold significant meaning to the addict, and can attend the event to offer personalized statements of caring concern. You want to have them by your side to provide follow-up support and encourage treatment.
  3. Research treatment options. Identify quality, accredited treatment facilities (such as Ardu) that are appropriate for your situation. Verify payment and insurance coverage in advance to eliminate obstacles once treatment is accepted. Contact Ardu online or via phone (801-810-1234) to discuss treatment plans.
  4. Prepare individually. Each team member should write a short, loving yet candid personal statement that highlights specific incidents that illustrate the way they are impacted by their loved one’s addiction. The goal is to inspire change through care, not criticism. It’s important to remain calm and focus only on moving forward.
  5. Confirm logistics. Choose an intimate, private location to hold the intervention where you won’t be interrupted or unexpectedly observed. Schedule the intervention for a period during which they will be sober, and leave lots of time for the process to run its course.
  6. Offer a treatment plan and concrete consequences. Present a treatment plan that has been prearranged and is ready for the addict to be admitted if accepted on the spot. If they refuse, it is important to reinforce the consequences that will ensue (loss of relationships, cut off financially, etc.).
  7. Provide ongoing support. Regardless of the immediate outcome, follow up persistently while maintaining boundaries until your loved one engages in recovery.

We offer a supportive and caring rehab program for all types of substance abuse. Ardu Recovery Center offers spa-like amenities (such as our float spa) combined with a medical detox facility, all nestled next to the majestic Wasatch Mountains in Provo, Utah.

We also offer treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), as well as alcohol detox. Learn about the effects of alcohol addiction and get a specialized alcoholism treatment plan.

Contact Ardu for treatment

Understand and be able to identify the signs of addiction so you can seek help for yourself or someone close to you. We understand that overcoming addiction is easier said than done, and we are here to provide support through the entire process. 

Our addiction recovery center specializes in helping people with drug, alcohol, and other types of addiction break free from the grip of dependence. Our addiction specialists can provide support and guidance through all stages of addiction recovery. 

Through evidence-based group therapy and individual therapy, as well as holistic treatment methods, we address the underlying factors of addiction, helping you gain insight and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Don’t hesitate to reach out and discuss your unique needs. We are always here to listen, explain, and discuss the treatment options we have available. You can also visit anytime to meet our team and see our facilities.

Brandon Okey

Brandon Okey is the co-founder of Ardu Recovery Center and is dedicated to empowering people on their journey to sobriety.

Addiction intervention FAQ

How does an intervention happen?

An intervention involves gathering family, friends, and professionals to confront an individual about their addiction and urge them to seek treatment. It is a planned process that includes preparing statements, outlining consequences, identifying treatment options, and systematically persuading the person to get help.

The confrontation can be an emotionally charged event focused on expressing care and concern to compel the addicted person to admit their problem and agree to get specialty addiction treatment. Follow-up includes supporting the initiation of recovery and providing accountability.

What are the two methods of intervention?

The two main methods of intervention are the Johnson Model, which uses confrontation and direct persuasion, and Motivational Interviewing, which employs more listening and incentivizing the addict to make self-directed positive changes. 

The Johnson Model relies on a structured intervention event with prepared statements and treatment ultimatums, while Motivational Interviewing unfolds through an ongoing counseling process to build internal motivation for reducing harmful behaviors. Both can provide paths to substance abuse recovery.

What is a simple intervention?

A simple intervention involves one or two caring individuals expressing concern to motivate someone to seek help. It is less structured than a formal intervention but uses candid, caring conversations to achieve breakthroughs. Simple interventions generally focus on specific problematic behavior and make appeals to an individual’s values and aspirations beyond their addiction to encourage positive change.

Are subjects of intervention made aware beforehand?

Generally, the intervention is planned secretly and the addict is not told ahead of time to avoid manipulation or avoidance. The element of surprise is used to maximize the impact when family and friends gather. Confrontation without warning elicits more genuine reactions and prevents the individual from concealing the severity of their situation, making excuses for their behavior, or attempting to escape.

What is the first stage of intervention?

The first stage of intervention is to consult with an intervention specialist to carefully plan the event, select participants, research treatment options, prepare statements, and confirm logistics. Proper groundwork performed by experienced professionals provides critical guidance to ensure interventions adhere to protocols, meet standards of care, minimize risks, coordinate timing, and promote accountability.

How long do interventions take?

The intervention meeting usually runs 1-2 hours, depending on the number of participants and the discourse that occurs. Post-intervention, wait times for quality inpatient rehab program admission may be 1-4 weeks, during which families encourage compliance. Inpatient treatment itself typically takes 30-90 days depending on individual needs, followed by ongoing recovery through outpatient services.

What are the signs of substance use disorder?

There are many signs that could indicate substance use disorder (SUD). Here are some of the most common:

  1. Noticeable tolerance changes where more substance is required to get high
  2. Withdrawal symptoms when not using
  3. Escalating interpersonal problems directly related to using
  4. Declining performance at work or school from absences and poor concentration
  5. Repeated failed attempts to cut back or quit entirely
  6. Significant time spent obtaining, using, and recovering from the substance’s effects
  7. Persistent use despite negative mental, physical, and social consequences
  8. Feeling unable to function normally without the substance
  9. Feeling powerless, hopeless, or out of control regarding use

What treatment options are available for alcohol use disorder?

Many evidence-based treatment approaches exist for alcohol use disorder, including detoxification programs to manage withdrawal safely, inpatient rehab, intensive outpatient programs, and ongoing care through support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to maintain long-term recovery. 

Counseling helps change the thought patterns fueling drinking behaviors. Medications can help reduce cravings and support abstinence. Ultimately, multi-pronged treatment programs that are tailored to the individual are most effective in dealing with alcohol use disorder.

What are the benefits of an intervention?

Interventions can provide many benefits when done properly, the most important of which is to have an addict accept rehabilitation treatment and get clean.

Interventions can also:

  1. Repair strained relationships damaged by the addiction
  2. Provide relief and support for family members stressed by their loved one’s declining health and behavior
  3. Prevent future crises like legal troubles or job loss
  4. Restore stability through recovery processes
  5. Allow struggling individuals to reclaim their lives from addiction’s grasp through newly embedded coping strategies and sobriety skills

What role do healthcare and addiction professionals play in interventions?

Qualified addiction counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, healthcare personnel, and other certified professionals involved in interventions can:

  • Provide guidance
  • Structure interventions to suit the needs of an addict
  • Facilitate family therapy sessions during the planning and follow-up stages
  • Help identify appropriate treatment programs and levels of care
  • Coordinate logistics
  • Offer education about addiction as a complex mental health disorder
  • Ensure interventions adhere to safety protocols
  • Give post-treatment care 


NIDA IC Fact Sheet 2022 | National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021, May 28). National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/budget-information/fiscal-year-2022-budget-information-congressional-justification-national-institute-drug-abuse/ic-fact-sheet-2022

Intervention – What is the Success Rate? – AIS. (2023, October 20). AIS. https://www.associationofinterventionspecialists.org/intervention-what-is-the-success-rate/

Further reading

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What are the 10 signs of addiction?

How to help a loved one with alcohol addiction

How can I recognize teen addiction?

How to recognize a mental illness in addicts

What is women’s sober living?