intervention talking to a loved one

Intervention: How to Talk to a Loved One With an Addiction

SoCal Detox
SoCal Detox

SoCal Detox editorial contributors include writers, editors, mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals who are trained to create credible and authoritative health information that is accurate, informative, and easy to understand.


To read more on how to help a loved one with an addiction, find it here.

If you are considering having an intervention for a loved one with an addiction, it is important to remember that recovery does not come from a single force of willpower. A decision must be made, for sure. But a decision alone will almost certainly fall short when it comes face-to-face with the disease of addiction. True and lasting recovery comes from a solid program designed, implemented, and managed by licensed professionals. So your goal is not to convince someone to stop. Your goal is to help them ask for help.

When confronting addiction in a loved one, anger, blame, raised voices, or intense emotions will not make the situation and better. The key is to simply state the facts. You can tell your loved one your concerns about what is happening and what direction you see them going and then ask if they agree with you. This keeps things in a non-blaming tone and gives your loved one the space to view themselves from your eyes.

Be Prepared to Stand Your Ground

This does not mean that you are going easy on your loved one. In fact, your confrontation/intervention must have a cost. Be prepared with the consequences of what will happen if your loved one refuses your help.

You cannot force someone into a treatment program, but you can make life more difficult if they choose to stay out of one. If you are supporting them financially, that may have to stop. They might not get access to your children while they are in the cycle of substance abuse. Indeed, you might decide that shutting them out of your own life is what has to happen—for their wellbeing as well as your own. Whatever consequences you decide on, make sure to state them and stick to them. An intervention means you are committed to saving your loved one’s life. This also means you will do whatever it takes to accomplish this. Even telling them that, “enough is enough,” and following through.

Remember you can not force someone to go get help, all you can do is explain to them how you feel and offer them help in seeking a new way of life. An intervention is best done with others, going at it alone can be difficult, dangerous and your chances of success are minimal. Try and get at least two other loved ones together to help. Make sure you have done your homework and have a treatment center lined up in case your loved one is receptive to your concerns.

Here are some guidelines to talking to a loved one:

  • Be informed
  • Be prepared (part one of this will help with that)
  • Bring at least two other people who love them
  • Make sure they are sober
  • Make sure they are comfortable
  • Be calm and open
  • Be firm and committed
  • Have a plan!

Here are some questions you can be prepared to ask:

  • Do you feel like you are in a good place in life?
  • Do you feel like you are struggling?
  • Have you tried to stop?
  • Have you noticed substances interfering with your life?
  • Do you see what how your actions affect those who love you?
  • Have you thought about getting help?
  • Do you know I love you and why I want to get you help?

Stages of Recovery

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (also known as SAMHSA) put together 12 guidelines for addiction recovery. These are helpful to keep in mind when considering the pathway of recovery for your loved one.

  • There are many pathways to recovery.
  • Recovery is self-directed and empowering.
  • Recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation.
  • Recovery is holistic.
  • Recovery has cultural dimensions.
  • Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness.
  • Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
  • Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude.
  • Recovery involves a process of healing and self-redefinition.
  • Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma.
  • Recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community.
  • Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen.

What If They Refuse?

If they refuse help you must stay strong. You need to let your loved one know that you will not just sit by and watch them kill themselves. You are there to help them do one thing: get into a treatment program. You will do anything and everything in your power to make that happen. Don’t give up on them, but stick to your consequences. Your loved one has to understand that their actions will get results. Their best hope is to take your hand and follow you in the direction of lasting recovery.

How to Get More Help

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and would like to learn more about our program, call SoCal Detox today at 888-590-0777. One of our addiction specialists is ready to help you through this process from the very beginning. Saving the life of your loved one is possible, and we can help.

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