So literally — what do we do, now that we have admitted our teen or young adult has a serious substance abuse problem? We might not know if it is an addiction, but all signs indicate something must be done, right now. It’s time for an intervention. Just what is it?

An intervention is a meeting with your child to motivate him or her to seek help for alcohol or drug abuse – or, for that matter, for compulsive eating, or other addictive behaviors. Timing of when to hold the meeting, and ways to make it successful are important factors. The Mayo Clinic (

offers this insight.

During the intervention, people gather together to confront the person about the consequences of addiction and ask him or her to accept treatment. The intervention:

  • Provides specific examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on the addicted person and loved ones
  • Offers a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals and guidelines
  • Spells out what each person will do if a loved one refuses to accept treatment

It’s challenging to help a loved one struggling with any type of addiction. Sometimes a direct, heart-to-heart conversation can start the road to recovery. But when it comes to addiction, the person with the problem often struggles to see it and acknowledge it. A more focused approach is often needed. You may need to join forces with others and take action through a formal intervention.

Examples of addictions that may warrant an intervention include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Prescription drug abuse
  • Street drug abuse
  • Compulsive eating
  • Compulsive gambling

People who struggle with addiction are often in denial about their situation and unwilling to seek treatment. They may not recognize the negative effects their behavior has on themselves and others.

An intervention presents your loved one with a structured opportunity to make changes before things get even worse and can motivate someone to seek or accept help.

An intervention is a carefully planned process that may be done by family and friends, in consultation with a doctor or professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or directed by an intervention professional (interventionist). It sometimes involves co-workers, clergy members or others who care about the person struggling with addiction.

If you are considering intervening to help someone that you love check out some of the great resources we have gathered to help you with this process.


 7 Steps to Plan an Intervention