Can I Plan an Intervention on My Own or Do I Need Help?

It’s really best to plan an intervention with the help of a professional. Learn about some of the main considerations that go into planning here.

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ARTICLE SUMMARY: This article reviews why most families need expert help during an intervention…and what planning is required. Your questions are welcomed at the end.



Most Families Need an Expert

Most families need outside help to get a loved one into rehab. I didn’t know this until I started working with expert, Dr. Louise Stanger on the book we wrote together, “The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions.” I learned that interventions are highly stylized conversations that require clinical skill.

Why do most families need an expert?

Simply, because it’s difficult.

Trying to convince someone to get help for a drinking or drug problem requires experience and an understanding of common objections. Interventions can be potentially explosive, even if the person knows what’s coming. And you don’t know what’s going to happen. This is where experience can really help.

Plus, loved ones who are using psychoactive substances are often in denial that s/he needs help. Denial is like a wall…with the right words, it can come tumbling down. But are you ready to talk with your loved one calmly, objectively, and rationally about addiction issues? If you’re honest with yourself…probably not.

Additionally, we know that one form of addiction bleeds into another: co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, juxtapose with medical problems such as chronic pain, legal or school issues. The complexity of what’s really going on is a mystery to most families.

Finally, consider this: Most people do not want to change.

Creating movement and shifts within a family dynamic require thoughtful expertise. And while you might need to dish out anywhere from a few thousand dollars to many thousands…training, specialization, and experience are worth the money! In fact, moving someone to the point where they’re willing to change takes more than just the simple formula you’ll see on other blogs online: Write a letter – Speak the facts – Your loved one goes to rehab. It just doesn’t happen like that.

Working with an interventionist can often get your loved one into treatment quicker and more efficiently than if you try to intervene on your own.

Do You Need Help, or Not?

So, are you at a point where you need a professional? Take a look at the following questions. You and your family might want to hire a professional addiction interventionist if:
  • You support (consciously or unconsciously) a loved one who is using mind-altering substances. This includes financial support or emotional support.
  • You have difficulty setting healthy boundaries or even knowing what boundaries are.
  • You experience somatic symptoms, lack of sleep, rage, endless tears, repeated illness, stomach aches, migraines, etc.
  • You have been unsuccessful in addressing a loved one’s substance abuse, mental health disorder, chronic pain, co-occurring disorder, legal trouble, or school and professional failures.
  • You have been unsuccessful convincing your loved one that s/he needs help.
  • You have a history of complex trauma, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders in your family of origin.
  • You cannot function daily due to your fear of doing/not doing something different to change your loved one.
  • You think constantly about your loved one. Or, you have gotten to a point of disconnecting from the world around you; looking at the situation is too painful.

What Does an Interventionist Do?

An interventionist works with you, your family group, and the identified loved one (the person drinking or using drugs) to help that person accept medical treatment for addiction. In order to get to “Yes”, an interventionist should be able facilitate and guide the following:
  •   Team Formation
  •   Family Mapping
  •   Retrospective Bio-Psycho-Social Analysis
  •   Case Strategy
  •   Treatment planning and placement
  •   Aftercare recommendations
  •   Family engagement in the healing process

Further, communication skills are essential to interventions. Interviewing skills and solution focused skills are critical. Throughout the process, the interventionist manages all team and third party communication. S/He serves as a liaison. For example, individual phone interviews with prospective team members may be required. Or, an interventionist may need to provide safe escort or transport to the selected treatment center.

Case management is also required for the evidence-based interventionist. Treatment center matching and referrals are necessary. Likewise, follow-up and regular case management with treatment centers while clients attend rehabilitation programs is critical. Finally, consultation and coordination of aftercare as well as Solution-Focused Family Recovery Coaching for all team members ensures lasting change.

Not all interventionists have these skills. You can download our Checklist for Hiring an Interventionist to learn what criteria are best as you choose the right person for your family.


There are a few things that an interventionist should coordinate both before and during the intervention. This includes:
  • Set date and times for meetings.
  • Select a neutral, safe venue(s) for the Pre-intervention and Intervention Meeting.
  • Book the venue in advance.
  • Identify who will be present.
  • If someone is not present, decide how you will include them (by Skype, phone, or letter).
  • Communicate the time, date, and location to all accountability team members.
  • Arrange for food to be present at the venue.
  • Review entrances and exits to venue.
  • Identify pets, if any, and care for them during the Intervention.
  • Make sure there are enough seats available (round tables if using are better than rectangles).
  • At homes, pull chairs and couches around to create a safe setting.
  • Identify other places where one may go and speak with the identified loved one in a less formal setting.
  • Arrange for photographs to be present. What photographs might be helpful? For example, if the ILO had a close relationship with a grandparent that has died, one might put a photograph in an empty chair or have to share to help move someone to change.
  • Work with a lawyer, medical professional, counselor, medical nurse, or treatment center representatives when necessary.


  • Make sure you have access to a phone always, even in remote locations.
  • Hire same gender transport professional(s), when needed.
  • Hire a medical nurse to accompany the identified loved one to the treatment center in cases of extreme drug dependence to prevent withdrawal.
  • Complete a full security check upon arrival at the venue.
  • Lock down (under lock and key) any firearms, weapons, or knives, etc.
  • Gather home keys, car keys, IDs, and phone from the identified loved one upon arrival.
  • Gather keys of interior and exterior areas of the home from the family.
  • Call in the help of executive protection professionals, when needed.


  • Make sure that tickets are open and flexible.
  • Book tickets to the treatment facility on a “loose” return itinerary to allow for missed flights.
  • Make sure that if using safe transport services that escorts are gender specific or if you use two people for transport one has to be same gender.


  • Review entire plan with team mate and other outside professionals.
  • Review plan with the accountability team.
  • Review who you want to give invitation to attend meeting.

Q: What happens when you go one-on-one with someone in active addiction?

A: You lose!

Adding an interventionist to your team can help ensure success and get your loved one into treatment quicker and more efficiently than if you were to try to intervene on your own.

To learn more about addiction intervention, please give us a call. Or, leave us a question in the comments section below. The telephone number listed on this page will connect you to a helpline answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC). The helpline is offered at no cost and with no obligation to enter treatment. Caring admissions consultants are standing by to discuss your treatment options, which can include family intervention specialists.

If you’re ready for help, pick up the phone.

You don’t need to hold an intervention on your own.

Reference Sources: The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions, A Collective Strategy
Available via Routledge Press or on Amazon.
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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