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Do Interventions Work?

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Do Interventions Work?

While interventions can help people get into treatment, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes interventions can go wrong and do the opposite. It can potentially undermine relationships, which can make the addict’s addiction potentially worse. 

Popular TV shows have showcased drug and alcohol interventions haphazardly for lack of better words. In those cringe-worthy moments of witnessing the chronicles of the lives of those who were suffering from addiction in the least proud of moments. They were being confronted in various ways. People were trying to nudge, coax, beg, demand or threaten them into treatment. No one could really guess with one hundred percent accuracy what would unfold at an intervention. Neither could one tell if they would accept going into treatment or not in the midst of a heated intervention.

What Is an Intervention?

Most interventions are consistent with a group of the addict’s family members and friends who are trying to convince the addict they do in fact have a substance abuse problem. Usually, the gathering is a surprise and the addict is unaware the intervention is about to take place. 

During the Intervention

Typically during the intervention, each person expresses how they have been harmed by the addict’s addiction. They plead in various ways for them to seek treatment. It then leads to their set of consequences if the addict doesn’t decide to seek treatment. Depending on the temperament of the people involved, the way everyone chooses to communicate with one another, and the resistance of the addict, things can easily get out of control. It’s an emotional and overwhelming situation for everyone involved. It can even be embarrassing to the addict as well which can put them on the defensive. 

Encouragement is Needed

Family members and friends of the addict are encouraged to be specific about how their loved one’s addiction has negatively affected them. Group members may list the specific types of suffering they’ve endured in an attempt to help the addict see how their addiction has profoundly affected their behavior. This in itself can become a sensitive and emotionally charged exchange of feelings. 

Not Being Open to Advice

Not all addicts may be accepting and open to hearing how their addiction has affected others and instead may be in denial or become angry/hostile. This is why it is important to have interventions overseen by a mental health professional or interventionist who directs interventions. 

Why should interventionists help out? Aside from the increased chances of success for your loved one agreeing to go into treatment, it also is important for the intervention to be safe. Considering a lot of emotions and feelings do run high. People are at their most vulnerable when involved in an intervention when trying to get a loved one to understand how addiction has ripped apart their relationship, friendship, family, and/or life. Including the addict who may feel betrayed, ganged up on, misunderstood, offended, or angered. 

Involving a Mental Health Professional or Interventionist

With the involvement of a mental health professional or interventionist, there is still a chance that your loved one will turn down treatment. Though, at least it can be monitored and conducted safely. The interventionist can help friends and family better articulate their feelings so they have a better chance of being received. It’s important everyone is heard, including the addict too. Maybe your loved one doesn’t agree to go into treatment today, but at least relationships overall are preserved or even strengthened and the topic of rehab can be revisited shortly down the road when they feel they’re ready. Perhaps then they can come to you, being a relationship that is still intact or built upon since the initial intervention. 

Although, the goal is the follow through in the consequences. For those who choose not to go into treatment, you must stand firm with the consequences you made. Those who are ready to go into treatment will usually go into treatment shortly after the intervention.

The overall goal of intervention is the approach of making treatment seem more obvious the easiest and the most rewarding choice.

Is an Intervention Effective?

An intervention is an effort on the part of the family members and friends of the addict to get them into a treatment program. Although there is little data available showing the effectiveness where interventions are actually effective. Although addicts are more likely to seek treatment when someone confronts them during an intervention, it still doesn’t determine the lasting outcome of the success of treatment in itself.

If an addict tries to pursue a life of sobriety without being fully committed in response to a peer pressure intervention, it will more than likely not be successful long term.

However, to have support socially along with good treatment, they’re more than likely to continue to get better.

Risks of Interventions

Interventions do not typically pose any serious risks. However, we do recommend that you get help from a mental health professional or interventionist. It may not directly make the addiction worse for your loved one or pose any serious health or psychological risks, however, it’s important to take into account everyone’s emotional and mental well-being. Especially when discussing triggering topics that are surrounding drug and substance abuse. 

Some addicts’ responses can vary from extreme anger or hostility or even extreme deep depression or withdrawal. Some may storm out in a fit of rage prior to when the intervention is complete or get into a physical altercation with a group member they disagree with. Others may become teary-eyed and run away and isolated from everyone. Felt extremely sad and hurt, and possibly suicidal even. 

Variables to Interventions

There are a lot of variables to the kind of reactions you may face. It can be based on several factors, such as the individual themself being their temperament, personality, how they handle conflict, and also the substance they are abusing in a combination of. You may want to take these things into consideration during the intervention.

Also, perhaps your loved one isn’t as receptive to some family and friends as they are to others. Which are more reasons why a mental health professional or interventionist would be valuable to have in assisting your family through this process. They can best help navigate all the different variables and help everyone best communicate with each other. Allowing everyone to have the space and respect in doing so to express themselves.

If Addict Refuses Treatment

If the addict refuses to go through treatment, despite all efforts in trying to convince them to, the family members and friends need to have a united front. They need to be consistent in following through with the consequences. It can be difficult for certain family members and friends in following through with consequences. Especially those who have a history of enabling by sheltering or giving money for example. The change of the relationship dynamic can be painful for them in setting firmer boundaries to rid themselves of being an enabler. 

Making Intervention Most Effective


You cannot force someone who doesn’t want help to seek it. 

Though, planning and using a certified mental health professional or interventionist can help guide you through the process of helping someone with addiction in seeing how seeking help would be beneficial for them. How It would raise the rate of the probability of success in having them being open to receiving treatment. 

Advance Planning Steps

These steps can help through advance planning by:

  • Not scheduling an intervention during a time when the addict is high or stressed out. Whether he has to be at work, distracted overall, gone through a breakup, overwhelmed or has trouble listening.
  • Do not guilt trip the addict, yell, or shame them. Instead, help them see how the addiction has harmed the people they love. Do not make the addict feel they are a bad or shameful person.
  • Be specific as to the way the addiction has caused harm and affected you. No generalized blanket statements. Don’t say, “Your addiction ruined our marriage.” Instead say, “Your addiction caused us financial hardship in losing our home, losing our life savings, and strained our relationship with our children, and each other.” Be specific. 
  • Try to keep work specific and to the point. It’s hard not to go on a rant when emotions are high and you feel overwhelmed. Try writing down what you want to say in advance in bullet points., but keep it to five minutes or less.
  • Try to set a specific treatment plan lined up to have ready. Ensure they accept the addict’s insurance or there is another financial option available. Make sure the program fits the addict’s value. For example, 12 step models aren’t a good fit for atheists as they don’t believe in God. If the addict wants to look for their own program try to offer them assistance in doing so.
  • Following through with the consequences you made. Make sure you are not showing them your threats are meaningless. If you said you would stop giving money, you need to stop giving money, for example.

An intervention can be scary and emotionally exhausting. However, it is usually one of the best things to help an addict see that they need help. 

Professional Drug or Alcohol Addiction Intervention

We are Palm Beach Interventions, and ending substance abuse begins here. We want to help you help your family members have the most successful shot at overcoming their addiction for long-term sobriety. Our addiction professionals are instant and confidential to the best drug rehab centers in Florida to men, women, and families affected by alcohol and substance abuse. 

Since 2000 approximately 700,000 people have succumbed to a drug overdose, and those numbers continue to grow. Don’t sit idly by and allow your loved one to potentially become a part of the statistics. You can do something, we can help! 

Get Help from a Professional Interventionist Today

Palm Beach Interventions has professional mental health interventionists that are in the Palm Beach to assist in a guided intervention. You are not alone, many families turn to professional intervention to try to save their loved ones’ lives. In 2018, 20.3 million Americans (aged 12 and older) battled a substance abuse disorder.

Contact us today, to get more information on how we can develop a personalized intervention plan for your loved one to get started.

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