How to Stage an Intervention Successfully

How to Stage an Intervention

Written By: Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Cite This Article
Geraldine. "How to Stage an Intervention Successfully." Lighthouse Recovery Institute., Last updated Oct 19, 2020 at 10:05AM | Published on Nov 22, 2019,


Last updated Oct 19, 2020 at 10:05AM | Published on Nov 22, 2019 | Get Help For A Loved One, Health and Wellness

An intervention is one of the most effective tools family and friends have to help a person struggling with addiction. Interventions are a carefully planned process that can help someone seek addiction treatment. However, they can be challenging and overwhelming. Let’s learn the tricks on how to stage an intervention successfully and hopefully help someone struggling with substance abuse problems get better. 

How to Stage an Intervention Successfully Infographic

10 Steps to Stage an Intervention

Interventions should never happen at the spur of the moment. If you want the intervention to be successful, you have to plan and set it up in a way that will yield a positive outcome. Try to follow these steps to stage an intervention. 

#1 – Get Professional Help

While you can easily set up an intervention by yourself, getting professional help can make a huge difference. A professional interventionist can be a social worker, an addiction therapist, a counselor, or even a doctor. They’ll be able to guide the conversation healthily and positively. Most drug or alcohol addiction treatment facilities will be able to offer assistance.

#2 – Form a Team

An intervention team often includes friends and family members who are willing to participate. Usually, the team comprises close family members, close friends, and sometimes coworkers. If a person is currently struggling with their substance abuse issues, they should not be included on the team.

#3 – Make a Plan

Take the time to plan for your intervention. Choose the date, time, location, and guest list for the intervention. Have an outline of how the intervention will work and what everyone’s role is. Make sure you choose the intervention date and time when you know the person is not under the influence. 

#4 – Gather Information

Educate yourself and those around you about addiction, the recovery process, and the type of substance your loved one is abusing. The more information you have about addiction, the detox process, rehab programs, and more, the better. 

#5 – Have Impact Statements

Interventions only host a couple of people. Everyone should have a statement about a person’s struggle with addiction. These impact statements are short stories and facts on how the addiction has harmed them in one way or another. These statements should be emotionally honest and focus on love. There is no place for personal attacks or judgments in these statements.

#6 – Offer Help

Everyone who attends the intervention should be willing to support their loved ones in one way or another. While the person goes through detox, rehab, and long-term recovery, support is paramount for success. Help can be something like offering rides to treatment or group meetings, participating in family therapy sessions, or other activities.

#7 – Set Healthy Boundaries

Not all interventions end up on a positive note. Even if they do, setting healthy boundaries will help you care for your mental health and wellbeing. Everyone present should commit to ending codependency and enabling behaviors. Be clear that there will be consequences if the person refuses help. These boundaries also apply to the addicted person in question, as they must know you’re no longer enabling them to continue their addiction. 

#8 – Rehearse 

Emotions run high during interventions. To avoid taking too much time, blaming the loved one, or falling into self-pity, rehearse the whole intervention with everyone at least once before it occurs. Of course, you can’t predict how the real-life intervention will go, but rehearsing will at least give you an idea of the type of topics that are likely to arise during the conversation.

#9 – Manage Expectations

While interventions are one of the most effective tools to help someone seek addiction treatment, it doesn’t guarantee anything. Even with a well-planned intervention and offers of help, the individual may not accept support for a variety of reasons. Keep in mind, even if this happens, you still need to hold your ground and enforce the boundaries and consequences you set for yourself and your loved one. 

#10 – Follow Up

Whether someone accepts the help or not, you have to follow up. Many addicts will promise they’ll seek treatment and don’t. Make sure you can follow up with a therapist, a friend, or a coworker to ensure they’re getting the help they need. 

Types of Interventions

While the essence of an intervention is a conversation, there are many types of interventions you can choose from. An intervention professional might have a method they prefer over others and suggest to use them for your intervention.

Crisis Intervention

Usually, these involve a police officer giving social and medical resources to those struggling with drug abuse or mental health issues. By coordinating clinical support and police efforts, people are more likely to get help for their problems and less likely to be treated like criminals. 

Brief Intervention

These types of interventions are one-on-one discussions between an addict and a medical professional or counselor. Brief interventions are common after an overdose at the hospital, at school, if someone believes a student is abusing substances, or at a doctor’s office. 

The Johnson Model

The Johnson Model is the type of intervention most people use. It helps catalyze the subject to enter a rehab program. Family members or caregivers plan the intervention. When the addict is surrounded by those who love them, they’re likely to experience an overwhelming sense of support and feel inclined to seek treatment. 


A more modern model that uses the basics of the Johnson Model. ARISE has one goal only to get the person struggling with addiction to a treatment program. It focuses on a less aggressive approach and more family intervention than other styles. 


Very similar to SMART goals, the SMART acronym for interventions is also Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-specific. This system is often an excellent follow-up mechanism for most traditional interventions. 

Family Systemic Intervention

This style of intervention focuses on the entire family, not just the struggling addict. A Family Systemic Intervention catalyzes the whole family to seek help in the form of individual and family therapy, specific support groups, and other forms of treatment.

Things to Avoid

One of the biggest tips for staging an intervention is to know the right things to avoid. According to the Association of Professional Intervention Specialists, an intervention is not coercive, hurtful, or an ambush. Make sure to avoid things like:

  • Using labels: Avoid labels like “alcoholic,” “addict,” or “junkie.” These might be accusatory and hurtful. Opt for neutral terms and avoid defining them by their addiction.
  • Inviting too many people: Interventions should only include close family members and friends. Stick to a minimal number of people.
  • Being upset: While interventions can be overwhelming, being angry won’t help. Find ways to manage your personal feelings and emotions to stay neutral and calm. 
  • Talking to an intoxicated subject: Don’t attempt an intervention when the subject is under the influence. It won’t be effective. Wait for them to sober up and try again. 

Finding Help

If you are ready to stage an intervention, contact us for assistance. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction counselors and therapists can help you stage a successful intervention and offer support throughout the process. Whether you’re looking to learn more about addiction or are ready to plan an intervention, we’re here to support you and your loved one. 

We believe everyone should have an opportunity to seek substance abuse treatment. That is why we offer comprehensive treatment programs that provide on-going support for those in recovery and their family members. From detox program to family therapy and aftercare support, we’re here to help your loved one find long-term sobriety. But most importantly, we’re here to help the family unit recover and heal from the consequences of addiction.  If your loved one is ready to seek treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, contact us today to get started. 

Written By: Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.

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