What is a Drug Addiction Intervention?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2018
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Drug addiction intervention consists of a meeting among a drug abuser and his or her friends and family to confront the addict and offer a treatment plan that has been pre-arranged. The addict is usually not told the purpose of the session. Family and friends tell the addict how his or her addiction is affecting them, and the consequences of continued drug use. They commonly offer a drug rehabilitation program and ask the addict to accept help.

An addiction interventionist usually helps plan the drug addiction intervention, coaching the family to write down what they want to say to the drug abuser. Part of the process includes telling the addict what actions family members and friends will take if treatment is refused. For example, they could refuse to give the addict money or a place to live if he or she does not go to rehab.

Besides drug addiction intervention, a similar process is used for people addicted to alcohol, gambling, eating disorders, or other destructive behaviors. Sometimes the addict is so focused on feeding the addiction that he or she cannot see how his or her actions affect friends and family. A drug addiction intervention gives the addict a chance to realize how his or her behavior is harming relationships, and an opportunity to become well.


Mental health experts advise using an interventionist to confront the addict. Depending on the type of drugs being abused and the user’s mental state, he or she could become violent during drug addiction intervention. Many addicts are in denial about their problem and become defensive when faced with an ultimatum. An interventionist can also help a family select a suitable drug treatment program.

If the addict accepts help, family and friends usually support him or her during the treatment phase. They might attend counseling sessions to gain an understanding of addiction and what their loved one is facing. Group counseling is sometimes helpful to give the addict and the family an opportunity to talk about what led to drug abuse. Some family members find support groups helpful to resist enabling the drug user.

A drug addiction intervention usually requires advance planning to be successful. A team leader can help friends and family members organize the actual intervention and explore treatment options. A rehearsal of the intervention without the addict often provides a smoother and less emotional intervention on the designated day. Interventionists might suggest that anyone who has had a hostile relationship with the addict not attend the intervention.



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