Watching someone you love battle a substance use disorder ranks quite high on the list of the most emotionally wrenching experiences a human being can have. It is incredibly frustrating. The feeling of helplessness while you watch someone you care deeply about destroying themselves has few parallels. It is this sense of desperation that leads many to stage an intervention. Learning how to stage an intervention for addiction is critical for making that first important step for a loved one.  

When is an Addiction Intervention Necessary?

How do you know when it’s time to resort to an addiction intervention? This is a deeply personal question that can be difficult to answer. There’s no hard rule as to when an intervention becomes appropriate or necessary. We recommend following your instincts. Consider this: What are the consequences of an “unnecessary” intervention? Now, what are the potential consequences if you choose not to intervene with someone who has a substance use disorder?

If you’re still feeling uncertain about whether or not an addiction intervention is warranted, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have I addressed the addiction directly and made an offer of help? More than once?
  2. Is the person who is addicted an immediate danger to themselves? Have they OD’ed?
  3. Has the person who is addicted tried repeatedly to “cut down” or quit unsuccessfully?
  4. Does the person who is addicted drive under the influence?
  5. Is their drug use or drinking negatively impacting children?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then it’s a good indication that an addiction intervention is something you should be seriously considering. 

How to Plan an Intervention for Someone 

The first thing you should know about interventions is that the success rate is largely dependent on how well-planned and executed they are. While attempting one on your own is an option, we strongly recommend hiring a professional interventionist whenever possible. 

A professional offers the advantage of experience and training. They are also not emotionally involved, which makes them better able to remain objective and avoid being manipulated and this is very important. Professionals are also adept at not leaving any loopholes someone can slip through. 

A trained and certified interventionist will plan the entire process and give you and your loved ones specific roles and tasks. This takes most of the guesswork out of what can be a very trying experience and it greatly improves the odds of a favorable outcome. 

What If I Can’t Afford to Hire an Interventionist?

We understand that not everyone can afford to hire a professional interventionist. In that case, you might consider reaching out to someone else with the temperament and authority to conduct and intervention. Someone who the person with addiction respects and who can maintain boundaries

This can be a pastor, priest, bishop, rabbi or imam. Even a favorite sports coach or an old boss who the person was close to. Ideally, the person conducting an intervention should not be a relative or anyone the person may be able to manipulate emotionally or hold any influence over them. 

There needs to be one person in charge in an intervention, a leader, and everyone else involved must follow the leader and hold the line on any consequences or conditions. This is a must if you expect the intervention to be successful. 

Planning an Intervention on Your Own

Again, we do not recommend attempting an addiction intervention with your own family and without outside help. But, if this is the only option, we’d suggest doing some groundwork by buying a book or two on the subject. Read it thoroughly, take notes, and build a plan. We also strongly recommend getting as many [helpful] people involved as you can. 

There’s strength in numbers. Just remember that the success of the intervention is directly dependent on how well each person involved fulfills their role. They must hold the line and refuse to enable the person or allow them to wriggle free of rules or consequences if the intervention isn’t successful at first. This is essential. 

  1. Buy a good book on conducting an intervention written by a professional, like “Addiction Intervention Training Guide” by Travis Gardner, CMI, BCI, CNDAI or “The Definitive Guide to Addiction Intervention” by Dr. Louise A. Stanger
  2. Assemble as many loved ones and friends as you can to participate and help provide support. Assign each person an appropriate role.
  3. Have a substance abuse treatment center already selected and ready to quickly screen and admit the person. You do not want to have to scramble to find evidence-based treatment at the end of a successful intervention only to find there is a 2-week wait for a bed or they don’t accept your insurance. 
  4. Strike while the iron is hot. Move quickly. Willingness can be a very fleeting thing. If the intervention is successful, ideally the person should be on their way to rehab within 24-48 hours MAX. Do not give them time to get cold feet, reconsider or disappear into the wind. 

How to Stage an Intervention for Addiction: Common Questions

How Much Does a Professional Intervention Cost?

An addiction intervention with a certified, professional interventionist can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000 or more. The cost generally depends on the amount of experience the interventionist has, how long and complex the planning is and whether or not air travel is involved. 

How Often Are Interventions Successful?

The most effective professional interventionists are successful in bringing the person into substance abuse treatment about 85-90% of the time. Family interventions without a professional vary, it’s a difficult thing to measure, but most data suggests they are successful about 30% of the time. 

How Do I Choose a Good Interventionist?

Look for an interventionist with at least 5 years of experience and who has at least one certification. Here are some certifications to look for: Board Certified Interventionist (BCI), Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Certified Alcohol and Drug Addiction Consultant (CADAC). You are welcome to call us at MARC of course and we will be happy to connect you with a reputable interventionist.

There is a Solution to Addiction

Our addiction treatment programs in Maryland features specialized therapy and counseling options. The emphasis we place on individualized treatment programming makes Maryland Addiction Recovery Center unique. We believe treatment should be designed to fit each individual for the best results. 

Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (MARC) is proud to be a part of the solution to addiction in Baltimore. If you or someone you love is challenged by a substance use disorder, MARC can help. Please contact us today at (866) 929-2159