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How to Plan an Intervention For a Loved One

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Intervention Facts

Women suffering from chemical dependency are filled with tremendous shame and guilt. This often keeps them from asking for or seeking the help they so desperately need. We can help you or someone you love to get into treatment. If the one you love is hesitant to ask for help, family intervention may be your answer. 

New Directions for Women’s staff is educated in three models of intervention: 

  1. Arise
  2. Johnson
  3. Systemic

These are three methods of lovingly encouraging your loved one to seek treatment for their chemical dependency. New Directions for Women utilizes trained professional interventionists for these services.

What Is an Addiction Intervention?

how to plan an intervention

An intervention is a deliberately planned action that can be done by family and friends. It’s done along with a professionally trained interventionist, a doctor, or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. During the intervention, they gather to challenge the loved one about the consequences of her addiction and ask her to accept treatment. 

It’s challenging to help someone you care about who is struggling with an addiction. Sometimes, a heart-to-heart can start the journey to recovery. But when it comes to a substance use disorder (SUD), often the person with the disorder has a difficult time acknowledging it. You will need a more direct and concentrated approach. You might need to join with others and take action through a formal intervention. 

Some addictions that may call for an intervention include:

  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • Prescription drug misuse
  • Street drug use
  • Compulsive eating
  • Compulsive gambling

Five Strategies for Planning an Intervention

No two people will react in the same way to an intervention, but concerned family and friends should remember that the focus is on the loved one. The goal is to get them to receive help. Don’t take anything they say or do too personally. The more you focus on your loved one’s well being, the more effective your strategy will be. 

Pick the Right Team

Besides the professional interventionist, only those people who are seriously committed to the process and have some influence on the person’s life should be included. Your family member or friend will be feeling very defenseless, so they need to be around people they respect, trust, and value. But if anyone on your list isn’t emotionally able to handle what might happen, it’s better not to include them.  

Factors that can influence whether a woman seeks treatment include financial independence, pregnancy, and childcare. You should discuss these issues during the planning stage. 

Know What You’re Going to Say

You want to help your loved one understand how their disorder is affecting them and their relationships so they will begin to understand why they need help. A successful intervention means avoiding saying anything that is a personal attack. Often, women develop SUDs as a result of domestic violence or other trauma, so don’t use an accusing tone, and be careful what you say.

Everyone involved in the intervention should write a brief, well-rehearsed letter that contains the message they want to express. This allows the concerned members to share their feelings in a nonjudgmental and compassionate manner. Hopefully, this will lead your loved one to feel the caring and concern you’re offering. 

Make Sure Your Loved One is Sober

It may be challenging to find a time when she is not under the influence. However, it’s important to try because the more impaired they are, the more complicated the intervention becomes. In most cases, substance use makes people more explosive and likely to have an emotional outburst. Not only will their reactions be influenced by substances, but their judgment and memory of the intervention will also be impaired.

Review The Plan

After you have chosen the right people and the right time for the intervention, everyone should practice the process with the interventionist. The people involved should take the letters they’ve written and rehearsed them until they know it well. It’s normal for things not to go exactly according to plan. However, having an idea of what you should and shouldn’t say will help reduce the chance of a negative outcome.

Prepare for Different Results

The interventionist will help to prepare for the many different outcomes that might occur. In the best outcome, the person will accept what is being said and be open to taking the next step into treatment. Right after an intervention is the best time to begin treatment. Prepare beforehand with your interventionist so your loved one can go directly to a treatment center.

However, be ready for other reactions, too. Your team should have a plan for what to do if your loved one does not react the way you’re hoping. The person may need some compromises from you if she is ready for treatment but has some requests or conditions. 

Women develop medical and social consequences of addiction faster than men. They also often find it harder to quit. Your interventionist will help you get through this so you can avoid some of the snags that frequently occur when trying to encourage someone to go for treatment. It is necessary to remember this when choosing a model to use for the intervention.

How to Plan an Intervention

What is an Intervention?
An intervention is a deliberately planned action that can be done by family and friends.
It’s done alongside a professionally trained counselor.

Taking the Right Steps
You can’t plan for someone to suffer from addiction, but you can plan your response.

1. Pick the Right Team
2. Know What You're Going to Say
3. Make Sure They're Sober
4. Review the Plan
5. Prepare for Different Results

No 2 people will ever react the same to an intervention,
and this is why it’s important to approach with understanding.

The 3 Intervention Models 

The ARISE Model

The ARISE Intervention has been recognized by industry leaders as the original intervention rules of practice. ARISE (A Relational Intervention Sequence for Engagement) is an evidence-based, best-practice method of intervention that uses the power of the family to achieve its objective of individual and family long-term recovery. 

ARISE invites the addicted person to join the process from the beginning with no surprises, no secrets, no pressure, and with total respect and love. This intervention has three levels that end at the first level that works:

Level 1

“The First Call” starts when a concerned individual calls a Certified ARISE Interventionist for a free phone consultation. The concerned person is coached on assembling the support network to motivate your loved one to go to the first ARISE meeting of the intervention team. 56% of people with a substance use disorder (SUD) enter treatment at Level 1.

Level 2

“Strength in Numbers” begins if the individual hasn’t accepted help at Level 1. The support network acts as a family Board of Directors. No one deals one-on-one with the drug-dependent person. By the end of level 2, 80% of people enter treatment.

Level 3

The “formal ARISE intervention” is rarely needed but almost always results in treatment because the individual is prepared for the outcome. During this meeting, serious consequences are put in place by the support network if the person with SUD doesn’t accept help. At this point 83% of people agree to get help. ARISE Continuing Care also supports your loved one through treatment and into recovery. It begins when the individual enters treatment and lasts a minimum of 6 months. Individual and family healing and recovery are their goals. 

The Johnson Model

In the 1960s, Vernon Johnson, an Episcopal priest, made it his goal to help all people struggling with addiction achieve recovery. Dr. Johnson saw the value in using family and loved ones in interventions. But instead of family members “ganging up” on the person with addiction, he encouraged caring as the main point. He asked the family members to write letters to the loved one, outlining consequences if they didn’t accept rehab or recovery. 

There are 7 parts to the Johnson Model:

  • Part 1—Team: A counselor who specializes in interventions organizes the team, includes family members, coworkers, loved ones, and friends.how to plan an intervention
  • Part 2—Planning: The team determines the time and place of the intervention as well as exactly what is going to be said in the letters.
  • Part 3—Focused on Care: This part is essential and must be followed throughout the process. It should not be a time when the addict is being yelled at or condemned.
  • Part 4—Addiction Only: The team should only talk about the issue of addiction. Nothing else from their past.
  • Part 5—Evidence: There must be proof or evidence provided in the letters. All past events should be talked about and described in a detailed manner.
  • Part 6—Primary Goal–Treatment: As a team, the result of the intervention must be the agreed-upon goal that the person with the SUD must get treatment. It shouldn’t be discussed as a punishment, but as a way to help improve her life.
  • Part 7—Treatment Options: Ideally, the intervention will end with the drug-dependent person seeking out treatment. For this to happen, the team needs to put together three options when it comes to treatment.

The Family Systemic Model

The dangerous and deadly behaviors by a person with a SUD affect not only them but also the family members around them. A Family Systemic Model is a way that the whole family can heal from an addiction. The ultimate goal is to have the entire family seek treatment for themselves and to teach them healthy habits like:

  • Communicating in a healthy way
  • Support
  • Encouragement

Regular Intervention vs. Family Systemic Intervention

Planning Meetings

In a regular intervention, meetings before the intervention include only the family members. The individual with addiction is not told about the intervention. In the Systemic model, there aren’t any planned meetings that are hidden from the person with SUD. When a meeting is set up with the trained interventionist, the user also attends.

One Time Only

The intervention only happens once in a regular intervention, in a controlled environment with a trained counselor. In a Systemic intervention, there could be several meetings a week and the process could last for months at a time.


In the typical models, the individual with the SUD must choose whether or not they will enter rehab. Regardless of whether they agree, the family must stick to the consequences that were explained in the intervention. And, once the intervention is over, daily life for the family just goes on. 

In the Systemic model, both the person with the addiction and the family members commit to entering some type of counseling. Typically, the person with the disorder will enter residential or outpatient treatment. In addition, the individual with the SUD will join the family in therapy sessions while in rehab. And the family commits to therapy sessions while the person is in rehab as well as afterward.

Uncomfortable but Often Necessary

You may have seen interventions on television. Interventions are not typically like that. An intervention is not the time to air grievances or put someone in their place. Discussions during an intervention can easily become emotional and stormy if proper preparations aren’t made beforehand.

It’s crucial to make the situation as drama-free as possible. The point is to express how your loved one’s SUD is affecting them so that they can accept it and admit that they need help. It is a chance to help someone who needs help desperately. You want to give it the chance for the best possible outcome.

The First Step with New Directions for Women

You should keep in mind that an intervention is only the beginning of the journey for your loved one. Planning a successful intervention might also be your first step in helping them move forward. Continuing follow-up is important especially if she isn’t receptive to the idea of going for treatment.

A trained professional from New Directions will be able to help you figure the next plan of action. They will guide you through the preparation and conducting of the intervention, into the treatment process, and the aftercare stages of recovery.

Why Contact New Directions for Women?

Traditional addiction treatment programs were developed based on research in men. Over 20 years, there is evidence that women who are addicted to substances often face challenges that men do not. A better appreciation of gender differences should help women avoid the pitfalls of substance use and help clinicians help women with addiction achieve their recovery goals.

New Directions is a women-only treatment center. We can help your loved one choose treatment through an intervention and we can help her achieve her goal of a fulfilling life. Contact us now. There will be no better time.







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