How to Write an Effective Intervention Letter

person writing an intervention letter

Interventions are an incredibly emotional time. Not only are we confronting our loved ones about a debilitating addiction, but somehow we have to maintain our composure throughout the event to get our point across.

No matter how well you know your friend, sibling, parent, significant other or child, you’re never quite sure how they’re going to react. Especially if they’re still under the influence. Interventions need to be handled very carefully if you want them to be successful.

Usually, interventions are one of the final straws. You’ve secretly been hoping your loved one will seek out treatment on their own, but sadly they never reached that point. So, now you’re taking the situation into your own hands.

One of the more effective means to ensure you can actually get your point across is to write an intervention letter. There are multiple formats you can use, but we highlight some of the key parts of an intervention letter and give an example for you to follow below.

When Are Intervention Letters Used?

There are a few distinct purposes for intervention letters. The first is to help you keep your composure, so you can actually remember to say everything you want to. Emotions run high and it can be easy to forget about the one heartfelt story you truly wanted to share.

Intervention letters can also be read aloud from people who weren’t able to make the intervention. Sure, reading the intervention letter from another person isn’t as powerful as reading your own letter at the intervention, but the more help you have presenting your case the better.

What to Include in Your Letter

When crafting your letter you’ll want to speak from the heart, while giving tangible examples. Do your best to not blame the victim; instead, place emphasis on their addiction being a disease. This can help to create space between them and their addiction, as opposed to viewing it as an inherent personality flaw.

Try to share stories and examples to illuminate who they were before their addiction, and show what has changed in their life, and how their addiction has affected your own. But, remember to stay positive and highlight the benefits that treatment can bring into their lives.

Finally, you’ll want to conclude your letter with an ultimatum. Make it clear what will change in their life if they don’t accept your offer of treatment. You’re not doing this because you’re a harsh person, you’re doing this because you love them.

Alcohol Intervention Letter Structure

Below we outline a common intervention letter structure you can adapt for your own letter:

  • State why you’re here today and your main concern
  • Provide examples from your own life about their life and your relationship before the addiction
  • Tell them that alcoholism is a disease (it’s not their fault) and treatment is available
  • Provide an ultimatum of what happens whether they decide to accept treatment or not

Example Intervention Letter

The following is a sample intervention letter from a friend:

Dear Charlie,

Thanks for letting me share and speak to you today. I know this is difficult, but there are a lot of things I need to tell you. To start, I’m very worried about your drug and alcohol use. It’s time for you to seek treatment.

Before you started drinking we were so close. We would stay up all night talking about projects we wanted to start and plan the next big camping we would take. You were always there for me when I was struggling with my relationship, or stressed about work. You were one person in my life I knew I could count on. I could tell you anything. But, since you’ve started drinking I don’t see that person anymore. All I see is a pile of stress and health problems that continue to grow by the day. I almost never see you smile, and I don’t remember the last time we even laughed together.

I’m so worried that I’ll never hear from you again. That you’ll end up dead or in the back of a police car. I’m watching you wither away and I truly want you to get healthy. As my best friend, I truly want to see you happy again. 

I know that we’ve joked about getting treatment in the past, but the time has finally come. I’m truly hoping you accept the opportunity to get the help you deserve. Addiction is a debilitating disease. It’s not your fault. Being under the influence changes who you are, what you think, what you love, and what your priorities are. But, you don’t have to keep living this way. There is a medical treatment available because addiction is a medical disorder. The help you need does exist to help you get through it.

I want my old friend back. But, please, don’t just do this for me. Do it for yourself. And do it for everyone here who came here today because they love you.

Just know, that if you don’t choose to go to rehab I won’t be able to see you, or support you anymore. I know this hurts you, but it hurts me too. I’ve learned that by making up stories for you, giving you money, and covering your shifts, I have only caused your addiction to worsen. I’ve done these things out of love, but now I realize they’re doing nothing more than hurting you. For that, I am sorry. If you choose not to go to rehab I won’t be there to support you and help you out anymore.

But, if you do go to rehab, you have my word that I’ll be there for you fully throughout this process. I’ll stand by your side and help you any way I possibly can. You won’t be alone in this, I can promise you.

Whatever decision you make, I just want you to know, I’ll always love you.

If your loved one is suffering from alcoholism or a related addiction, then reach out to the helpful staff at The Recovery Village Ridgefield today.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.