The Intervention Guide To Help Families

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

January 19, 2022

Table of Contents

Is your family fighting over how best to help your addicted loved one?

Are family members waiting for the loved one to seek help alone?

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Need help getting addiction treatment?

Watching a loved one self-destruct is painful, and it can change you as well. Ultimately, addiction is a family disease.

You may not realize it, but your behavior could be part of the problem. With addiction, everyone plays a part in that person’s recovery. With any disease, it is best to seek out professional help — luckily, there are alcohol and drug rehabs in Orange County.

You are not responsible for their addiction, but many people miss or ignore the signs of addiction. As a result, lives are ruined by addiction.

Over 67,000 people died of a drug overdose in the US in 2018.

It’s time to start talking about addiction rather than treating it as the elephant in the room. The thought of confronting your loved one might fill you with dread. Which is worse, though, losing your loved one to drugs or alcohol, or dealing with an uncomfortable situation?

To an addiction counselor or intervention counselor, addiction is a disease of the brain. To a drug cartel addiction is business, and business is booming right now, especially in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Opioids and fentanyl are flooding the streets.

Overdoses in the US have quadrupled since 2002. While federal policies are put in place to try to tackle the current drug crisis, friends and family must realize that they have much more power to encourage people to accept the help they need.

What Is An Intervention?

Intervention, in the context of addiction, is the process of implementing strategies to change a person’s behavior to improve the health of an addicted loved one. An intervention can come in the form of a crisis, an event, or a moment resulting from a confrontation with family and friends.

By staging an intervention, you increase the chances of getting your loved one to seek help and get onto the road to recovery. Your loved one may decline to seek treatment, but at least you provide them with an option.

Addiction does not discriminate. It can impact anyone of any class, creed, or color.

What Kinds Of Addiction Can An Intervention Help?

Any addiction that is impacting the family can benefit from an intervention such as:

Often, people who are addicted are not aware that they have a problem. An intervention is a structured approach to getting through to them that they have a problem and how it’s affecting the family as a unit.

Types of Intervention

A trained intervention counselor can guide you to the type of intervention to get your loved one to rehab successfully.

There are two main types:

The Johnson Model of Intervention

This model of intervention was created by Vernon Johnson.

With this type of intervention guide, the family confronts the addicted person in one event.

Every family member must be on board. If the addicted person has an ally like a friend who will put them up on their couch or pick them up from treatment, the intervention won’t work.

Everyone must be onboard, family and friends alike.

The danger of this approach is that the addicted person realizes that everyone has been talking about them and can feel conspired against, hurt, betrayed, shameful, and embarrassed.

This is better than losing your loved one to addiction, though. It’s crucial to consider that if the intervention guide is successful and your loved one agrees to treatment, there could be a level of distrust on their return from rehab.

It pays, then, to be aware of the pros and cons of performing this type of intervention where you collude with other family members and friends.

It’s worth the risk if you’re going to save a person’s life, but there are other methods of interventions that your guidance counselor can advise you on.

Invisible Intervention

Invisible intervention is where a trained intervention counselor works behind the scenes with family members and coaches them on how to interact with their addicted loved one.

This type of intervention guide aims to facilitate the addicted loved one to decide to seek treatment on their own. This method means playing a longer game, unlike the previous method.

With invisible intervention, a person is far more likely to stick with treatment because they have decided that they are ready and willing to tackle the challenge of getting sober.

This method helps to mend the family system in a way that supports the person’s recovery process. It’s also a non-confrontational method that is less likely to result in resentment.

The powerful aspect of this type of intervention guide is that it encourages family members to view their addicted loved one with empathy. When you show and express empathy for someone, the learning part of their brain ignites. In contrast, when you’re mad and yelling and punishing someone, this arouses their emotional brain.

The trick is to approach them in a manner that creates a favorable atmosphere to get them on the side and get them to make the decision that they want to get and stay clean and sober.

Understanding The Addicted

It’s not the addicted person that is the enemy but the addiction itself. The addicted individual is fighting a battle themselves, even if it doesn’t appear that way. The nature of addiction is such that it’s a disease that makes you think you don’t have a disease. The addicted person often thinks nothing is wrong.

Addiction is a powerful disease that lies to its victim. It’s cunning and powerful.

People start to use drugs because it makes them feel good. It’s like putting instant euphoria into their body. When a person first uses drugs, they experience enormous highs likened to the first time they ever found love. As the disease progresses, though, they drink or use drugs simply to feel normal.

As they consume more and more of the substance, they build a tolerance and jump from drug to drug to achieve a new high, combine drugs, and switch methods, such as snorting prescription opioid painkillers or injecting rather than smoking heroin.

Eventually, a person’s world becomes devoted purely to getting more drugs and getting the money to get them.

Dual Diagnoses

People with addiction often have a secondary diagnosis, yet another elephant in the room.

Taking an empathic and calm approach will produce much better results than yelling and getting angry. You could perhaps say, “I don’t know what’s happening with you, but I can see you are deeply unhappy. Maybe we can go and get an assessment?”

If they go to a quality treatment center that deals with dual diagnoses, they’ll probably be diagnosed with anxiety and depression before addiction. They use or drink to escape emotional pain.

You then let the medical professional convince them to go and get treatment.

Setting Boundaries Versus Enabling

People only have to become exhausted with the way that they are living to be motivated to make necessary life changes. We see this in our own lives when we’ve got out of a toxic relationship or lost weight. Being adequately tired of a situation can prompt a person to agree to seek help.

It’s a myth that people must hit rock bottom to reach out. They must reach the point that is adequately uncomfortable for them.


As a friend or family member, you can make it sufficiently uncomfortable for them to continue using drugs and drink to the point that they get exhausted.

For instance, consider the homeless person who manages to get money to get drugs and drink and regularly overdoses. How do they get this money? Is it family, Grandma, or is it you? If so, you aren’t helping but enabling.

  • Enabling behaviors include:
  • Giving them money
  • Calling in sick for them
  • Making excuses
  • Interfering in situations with people the addicted person has harmed

An addicted person must feel the natural consequences. They must become adequately uncomfortable to reach out and accept help.

They will be far better off to go through the anguish and discomfort of not being able to get their next fix than being beaten up while unconscious on heroin or alcohol. Every dollar you give for rent or food can go straight on drugs and alcohol.

Setting Boundaries

When they ring up with the next drama, respond differently. Tell them that you love them. Explain that this is why you will handle this differently from now on. Say that you will help them to get treatment and support them to detox, but you won’t give them money.

Become a broken record, set boundaries, and stay firm. You will no longer be a victim of their abuse. Parents who receive threatening phone calls from their addicted children because they need cash will perpetuate the cycle until they stop it. They have to say ‘no.’

The last thing a parent wants is to pay the 50 dollars that end their child’s life.

Once you stand your ground and set boundaries, you then accept the outcome and practice self-care. Ultimately, it’s not you that created the addiction, nor can you control it.

Helping is offering treatment and encouraging them to get clean and sober, giving them money is not.

Setting boundaries and limits are the practical way to mitigate the damage done by the loved one’s addiction.

Get Treatment Lined Up

Before you attempt any intervention, you need to get the ball rolling. The moment they say yes to treatment you want to strike when the iron is hot.

The last thing you want is to be frantically ringing round treatment centers, figuring out which type of treatment they need, and what insurance to organize. You need all your ducks lined up in a row.

Prior planning and preparation are vital to get them to treatment successfully once they agree. You can even have a backpack with supplies ready for them to take with them.

If you don’t make all the arrangements beforehand, you won’t be able to seize the opportunity while your loved one is having a moment of clarity. That window of opportunity will not last forever, only between a few hours and a few days.

While you’re planning the intervention, educate yourself about levels of treatment, types of treatment, medical insurance, and logistics.

Getting Guidance From A Trained Intervention Counselor

Performing a successful intervention with an addicted loved one has one vital component: the guidance of a trained intervention counselor.

Do not attempt to do an intervention without the assistance of a trained professional. If you try to do this alone, you will most probably end up in a difficult situation.

Don’t attempt an intervention alone. It takes more than one person to perform a successful intervention.

Intervention guide counselors undergo extensive training and education. They plan for every eventuality during the confrontation, for instance, if the person runs out of the room. Liken it to coaching a football team. They anticipate everything that might happen and advise each family member on what to do in each scenario.


People manage to get clean and sober daily. They learn to live life differently, and this can happen at any age.

They need to become exhausted with their life.

The family also needs to understand how they either enable or help the addicted person and change their behavior and approach accordingly.

But, remember to learn about intervention guide, seek the support and guidance of a trained professional and don’t attempt intervention alone.

You have an opportunity to step in. Seize it before it’s gone. An intervention can be a powerful guide and life-changing event.

That opportunity may pass if you wait for them to get help or hit rock bottom. Then you face a lifetime of regret that you never offered that opportunity to get them to California rehab. For immediate help, call us today at 866.330.9449.866.330.9449



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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