How to Plan an Intervention for a Drug Addict

How to Plan an Intervention for a Drug Addict

Interventions can be emotionally challenging for everyone involved, especially for a loved one struggling with drug addiction.

But there’s hope.

When an intervention is done with compassion and care, it can be a powerful method of helping guide someone toward the assistance they require. Understanding how to plan a drug intervention is the first step in assisting your loved one.

This article aims to provide detailed information on how to plan an intervention for a drug addict step by step. By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a complete understanding of how to implement a drug abuse intervention plan and all the nuances involved in the process.

Consequences of Not Planning an Intervention

If someone suffering from addiction is not confronted about their ailment, they may continue to experience emotional and physical consequences. According to the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction, drug abuse can lead to various mental and physical health problems, such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, and strokes.

Besides these issues, people suffering from addiction may experience the following:

  • Loss of community support
  • Increased risk of overdose
  • Trouble with the law
  • Financial problems
  • Loss of employment

Not addressing a loved one’s drug addiction may support enabling behaviour, where family members inadvertently make it easier for the person to continue using substances by providing them with shelter, financial assistance, or other forms of support. Enabling behaviour can make it hard for the person to seek help and prolong the addiction. 

Canadian Drug Intervention Success Rates

Canadian Drug Intervention Success Rates

Success rates of Canadian drug inventions vary significantly depending on whether or not an interventionist is involved. According to an article published in the Bicycle Health, intervention success rates can be as high as 90% when an internationalist is utilized, compared to only 10% when loved ones and family members attempt to intervene without the assistance of professionals.

The table below highlights the difference between working with an interventional instead of working without one.

Working With an Interventionist Working Without an Interventionist
Has experience and specialized training in addiction treatment. Family members or loved ones may not be emotionally ready or prepared to handle addiction.
An interventionist offers a comprehensive and individualized drug use intervention plan. Relatives, friends, or family may not understand the steps involved in creating an extensive, personalized plan.
Loved ones and family members are provided support and guidance during the patient’s treatment. Dealing with an addicted person can be draining even if family members have the best intention. This can lead to emotional burnout or depression for the loved ones of the sick individual.
Drug interventionists provide education on addiction and the recovery process. Family members or loved ones may not know where to look for assistance. They may not have access or are unaware of community resources and support groups available.
Interventionists connect loved ones with support groups and community resources. Without knowledge of the recovery process and addiction, family members may fail to understand how to plan an intervention for a drug addict.

The difference in success rates is because interventionists are trained to handle the unique dynamics of addiction and intervention. These individuals assess the situation and know how to plan an intervention for a drug addict. Interventionalists develop a personal drug use intervention plan and support the person and their loved ones through the entire process.

Additionally, interventionists generally have connections with treatment centers and other resources to aid during the treatment.

Here are three additional factors that may affect the success of an intervention  plan for a mentally ill drug user in Canada:

  1. Type of substance being abused – Different substances have different effects on the body and brain, requiring different approaches for intervention plans for drug addiction and treatment. For example, an intervention for someone struggling with opioid addiction will likely differ from someone struggling with alcoholism.
  2. Stage of addiction – The longer someone has been struggling with addiction, the more entrenched the problem may be and the more difficult it could be to intervene.
  3. Individual’s willingness to change – A vital component of a successful intervention is the willingness to accept help and enter treatment. With this, an intervention is likely to be more successful.

With these factors in mind, it is crucial to seek professional help when conducting an intervention and to have realistic expectations about the process.

What You’ll Need to Plan a Successful Intervention for a Drug Addict

What You'll Need to Plan a Successful Intervention for a Drug Addict


Planning an intervention requires a significant amount of time and effort. Setting aside enough time to gather information about the addiction, including its severity and underlying causes, is essential.

This information is used to identify an appropriate interventionist and prepare for the intervention.

Consider the timing of the intervention, as it should be scheduled when the individual with addiction is most likely to be receptive to receiving help. It is also important to allow enough time to plan, organize and prepare loved ones or other participants for the intervention.

Family and Friend Support

The support of family and friends willing to be involved in the intervention tends to make the process less strenuous. This includes providing emotional support, participating in the intervention, helping plan the event, and offering compassion during recovery.

Loved ones must understand the addiction, its effects, and how the person’s life is being challenged by the drug, as it’ll assist them in supporting the individual. They must be prepared to express their concern and support for the individual in a constructive and non-judgmental manner.

The key to performing successful drug and alcohol interventions is education about the person’s condition.


Obtaining a clear understanding of the addiction and the available resources for treatment allow families to feel that they’re not alone in this battle. Information on the various treatment options, such as inpatient and outpatient treatment, plus the costs and availability of each, can help loved ones prepare for the financial outlay.

It is also essential to be familiar with any insurance coverage or other financial assistance available to pay for treatment.

Moreover, gathering information about the individual’s specific addiction, including the substance they are addicted to and how long they have been using it, can help families determine the severity of abuse. This information can be used to tailor the intervention and treatment plan to their specific needs.

An Interventionist

An interventionist is a professional who is trained to lead interventions. They can provide guidance and support to ensure the intervention is conducted safely and effectively. Interventionists also identify appropriate treatment options and plan for the long-term recovery of the addicted person.

With the assistance of an interventionist, families can feel more confident during the individual’s road to recovery. Look at these sample case studies of drug addiction to learn more about how an interventionist can help.

8 Steps to Planning a Drug Abuse Intervention Plan

8 Steps to Planning a Drug Abuse Intervention Plan

Gather Information About the Addiction

The first step in planning an intervention is to obtain information about the addiction. This process should include researching and understanding the specific symptoms of the drug the user is taking, the treatment plans available, and the extent of your loved one’s problem. With this information, the intervention group can initiate the arrangements to enroll the person into a particular treatment program.

Identify an Appropriate Interventionist

Choosing a qualified and experienced interventionist to lead the intervention is essential. This includes checking credentials, asking for references, and ensuring the interventionist is a good fit for the sick person and their family. An interventionist provides support for loved ones after the intervention while helping them understand the recovery process and how to support the addicted person best.

One of the best interventionists in Canada is Andy Bhatti. He has been helping families with intervention and addiction services for over a decade. Andy assesses the individual’s addiction and then outlines it to determine the core issues that may fuel it. He also offers 24/7 recovery support and works closely with drug and alcohol treatment centers around the country to provide safe interventions and sober coaching.

The right interventionist can help your loved one overcome their addiction and regain their life.

Prepare a Letter From Family and Friends

When the loved ones of an addicted person are involved in an intervention, it may boost the treatment’s effectiveness. Family and friends willing to be involved in the intervention may show substance users that their family cares and the hurt they are bringing to them.

Below are four steps to consider when preparing a letter from family and friends:

  1. Identify the purpose of the letter – Before you start writing the letter, it’s crucial to identify the purpose of the letter. The letter’s goal should be to express your love and concern for the person struggling with addiction and to encourage them to seek help.
  2. Write from the heart – The letter should be written from the heart to show genuine feelings and worries about the individual’s substance use disorder. Avoid using judgmental language or fault-finding; focus on articulating how much you love the person and what it would feel like if they didn’t stop using.
  3. Include specific examples – Include particular examples of how the person’s addiction has affected you and your loved ones. This aids the user in understanding their addiction’s impact on those around them and how much they care.
  4. End on a positive note – End the letter on a positive note by expressing support and encouragement for the person to seek help. Offer to help with transportation, housing, or other needs as they begin their journey toward recovery.

A letter from loved ones can be a powerful tool utilized during the intervention to highlight their uneasiness surrounding the addiction and their desire to help the person struggling. Used wisely and with the correct intention, a letter from friends and family may be required to kickstart the rehabilitation process.

Form the Intervention Team

This is the core group of intervention organizers, including friends and family, an interventionist, and other individuals close to the substance user. Generally, only co-workers, friends, and immediate family members should be involved in this process.

Persons struggling with substance use disorders must be excluded from the team as it may cause enabling behaviour without other group members knowing.

Other people considered for the intervention team should be professionals involved in the person’s treatment, such as an addiction counselling specialist, behavioural therapist, or a sponsor.

Set a Date and Location for the Intervention

Once the intervention team is established, the next step is to set a location and date for the intervention. The place should be a neutral and safe space where the individual feels comfortable.

Considering the best time for the intervention is essential, as it should be when the user is most likely to be receptive to seeking professional assistance.

Create an Ultimatum

A clear and concise statement must be drawn up that lays out the consequences if the addicted person doesn’t seek help. The injunction should be realistic, and the team must be prepared to follow through with the repercussion if the substance abuser falters.

Consequences in an ultimatum should include but are not be limited to:

  • Seeking legal action
  • Ending the relationship
  • Cutting off financial support
  • Refusing to enable the addiction

The group must be firm but compassionate when discussing the ultimatum with the person suffering from addiction. Being genuine and showing care for the individual can go a long way in giving them the help they need.

Conduct the Intervention

Calm and respectful should be the tone of the group during the intervention. This is when the team brings forth the ultimatum, with the interventionist leading the conversation and guiding everyone involved.

Here are four things to avoid during an intervention:

  1. Labels like “junkie,” “addict,” “loser,” “alcoholic,” etc. – The individual may find these terms accusatory and offensive. Instead, avoid defining the person by their addiction and utilize neutral words, such as habit, clean, or abuse.
  2. An intoxicated subject – If the individual is intoxicated during the intervention, they’re not likely to accept help. The group must wait until the person has sobered up to attempt the intervention again.
  3. Fighting or being upset – Don’t allow the event to become overwhelming by finding a way to manage personal feelings.
  4. A large intervention group – Stick to a small number of people by choosing only a core group of individuals close to the addicted person.

During the process, the user must be allowed to express their concerns and feelings while the team listens with understanding and empathy. Even with a well-structured intervention and offers of assistance, a person may not accept the help for various reasons. Follow through with the outlined consequences or other arrangements if they don’t welcome the group’s aid.

Follow up and Provide Support

After successful interventions, it’s crucial to follow up with the person’s recovery journey and offer them support where needed. This may include connecting the individual with support groups, helping them to find housing, and providing transportation to or from the treatment facility.

Irrespective of whether the addicted individual accepts help or not, it’s vital to uphold the terms laid out in the ultimatum. Otherwise, the rehabilitation process may slow down, leading the person to stress excessively and possibly relapsing or deepening substance abuse issues.


How Can I Tell if a Loved One Is Struggling with Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction signs and symptoms include changes in relationships, physical appearance, and behavioural patterns. Financial status, adjustments in sleep patterns, mood swings, and getting in trouble with the law are common traits of an addicted person.

How Much Does an Intervention Cost?

An intervention’s cost varies significantly depending on the treatment types required, the chosen interventionist, and the user’s location. Family and loved ones should research the different options available to find a treatment plan that is affordable and accessible.

How Can I Find an Interventionist?

Concerned family members can conduct an online search, ask for recommendations for healthcare professionals, or contact an organization that specializes in addiction treatment to find an interventionist.

How to Plan an Intervention for a Drug Addict – Final Thoughts

Drug addiction is a serious issue that affects not only the individual struggling with addiction but also their loved ones and their community. An intervention is an influential tool that can help a substance user take the first step toward recovery. 

Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can plan an effective intervention to help your loved one seek help and begin healing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, we recommend reaching out to Cedars at Cobble Hill, Sunshine Coast Health Centre, or Canada Drug Rehab for more information on treatment options and support.

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