What to Say During an Intervention

father and son during intervention

An intervention is a very sacred and delicate space to be held for someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Emotions are on high when you and your family have reached this last resort in a person’s life, which can be an extremely sensitive occasion.

According to Scripps Health, “Interventions are an act of love that literally save lives and change the lives of those involved in a very dramatic way. About eighty-seven percent of interventions result in the admission of the person to a treatment center immediately.”

There is definitely a very fine line between being straightforward while still maintaining effectiveness without pushing the addict further away. It’s very important during an intervention to choose your words very wisely to allow the person in need to truly grasp your loving concern for their well being as you urge them towards getting help.

Staging an intervention is an intricate process and should be supervised by a mental health professional. The interventionist will help guide you and your family through each of the important pieces of preparing and executing a successful intervention.

Understanding that your words can make or break the receptiveness of the user is imperative. Often we find that people are very unsure of what to say during an intervention, so we’ve put together some tips to help you craft your intervention letters based on common intervention scripts as well as some do’s and don’ts of successful interventions.

Writing An Intervention Letter

Structuring your intervention letter correctly is a crucial element. Mapping out your conversation points and having an orderly script to follow can help the intervention to flow as best as possible. Always include the following in your letters:

  1. Lead with affection. This is the most constructive way to open your part of the discussion. It’s important to help the person feel that you believe in them and that you are not trying to attack or judge them.
  2. Be specific and persuasive with the facts about their behavior and how it affects you. Come prepared with multiple examples of detailed incidents that have been disruptive to your life.
  3. Express how their actions have affected you as well as their health, as most people facing addiction from drugs or alcohol have not considered your feelings, the impacts of their usage or the health problems associated with the chemicals they are putting into their body.
  4. Explain and outline the treatment options you and your family have arranged for them. Give them as much helpful information as possible about their accommodations and exactly how the addiction treatment program works. Be sure to ease their mind about how money and time off from work or school will be handled.
  5. Issue an ultimatum and set of consequences should they refuse treatment that includes how your relationship will change, how you will no longer enable them and how treatment is the only way to keep your relationship intact.
  6. Always end with positive reinforcement about addiction, treatment options and leave them with the understanding that you’re offering full support for their recovery.

What To Say During An Intervention

Words are very powerful, and they have the ability to create or to destroy. So, it is very important to put the right words together as well as use them at the right time.  Most addicts feel very depressed, alone and unworthy.  Reminding them of their worth can set the tone for the intervention. There are some key expressions to include in your letter that can help foster encouragement and motivation to get help.

  1. I love you.
  2. I believe in you.
  3. You are valuable to our family, and we are thankful for your life.
  4. I am worried about you, our family, our children, your well-being, etc.
  5. I am here for you, and I support you in getting treatment towards recovery.
  6. You can get better.
  7. Addiction treatment works and we found one that is perfect for you.

How To Approach Someone With An Alcohol or Drug Abuse Problem

Make sure your intention is coming from a place of as much love, supportiveness and as compassion as possible. This will serve as a great foundation to help you get the right message across.

Remember that when you band together as a family unit, you are taking a large step in the direction of helping the addicted person have a chance at a better life.

Each person on the team should have a script prepared and in hand. Have your intervention letter on paper in front of you so you can read it and stay on track with everything you wish to express.

Be prepared to listen and give the person space to understand and work through your reasoning. Also, be ready for objections and resistance and have solutions ready for excuses and denial.

What NOT To Say During An Intervention

  • Don’t make excuses for the drug or alcohol problem or try to rationalize any part of their addiction. They need to understand the consequences of their behavior.
  • Don’t use “you” excessively. Try to start most of your statements with “I” instead of “you,” as this will help your words to come across with less blame and will help negate the addict from feeling defensive.
  • Don’t use foul language or name-calling. Try to avoid using harsh words and watch your tone of voice as you are reading your please as this will help the person you’re trying to reason with seeing that you are coming from a thoughtful place of loving concern.
  • Exclude people from the intervention team that may adversely affect the gathering, are involved in using with the person or that the person may have a negative relationship with.
  • Don’t spend all your time on the problem. Try to be solutions-driven in your petitions.
  • Don’t bluff with your consequences or skip explaining that there will be a change of relationship should they refuse treatment.

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.