Staging an Intervention for drug addiction is not easy. It takes bravery, strength, and compassion to confront a loved one who is suffering from substance abuse.

The following symptoms are common in an addict who needs an intervention:

  • Tolerance to a substance
  • Isolation; distancing oneself from previously enjoyed social activities
  • Mood swings
  • Weight and/or appetite fluctuations
  • Consuming alcohol or drugs to combat or avoid withdrawal
  • Legal or financial problems due to drug use
  • Inability to stop using when attempted
  • Fixation on maintaining supply

Substance abuse intervention techniques

Crisis intervention strategies for substance abuse vary from addict to addict. Read over the approaches below to get an idea of the best way to confront your loved one about their addiction and how to get them help.

Crisis Intervention

Crisis interventions are staged at times of emergency, such as a mental breakdown, intense reaction to drug abuse or severe addiction. Using the crisis intervention method to confront an addict is the most useful when the addict and other people in the family can be supportive.

However, it is easy to imagine that not all addicts are ready and willing to be confronted, admit a problem and get help. In these cases, forcible intervention can be facilitated by an intervention professional.

In the case of forcible intervention, the addict must show reasonable threat to him or herself or to those around them. The greatest risks with and reasons to forcibly intervene addicts (especially those suffering from mental illness) are suicide and parenting neglect, but the reasons are many.

A standalone crisis intervention generally leads to hospitalization or involuntary treatment.

Tough Love

A tough love approach has been an approach for any family issue, but especially for addicts in the family. Tough love includes cutting addicts off from provided resources such as housing, money, car, chores, etc. The hopeful outcome with tough love is that the addict seeks help with the interventionist and responds to requests to get help before earning back some provisions (such as a place to live). However, the tough love approach has the ability to push addicts away, which is why tough love should only be used with the guidance of a professional and as a last intervention resort.

Systematic family model

Image of family holding hands after a family substance abuse intervention.

The most effective family substance abuse intervention strategies come from the heart and stem from love. The systematic family model involves openly approaching the addict and engaging in dialogue together. The intervention is pre-planned, and the addict is invited to join to hear family members explain how they feel or are affected by the addict’s behavior. The addict is also encouraged to communicate and express feelings. Hopefully, this model leads to agreed recovery treatment.


The ARISE method shows extremely good results. It is a method that brings the entire family together to work as a team to both help the addict and to better themselves as a family unit. The addicted family member is involved in all conversations about treatment plans, and while he or she undergoes recovery, the remaining family members also enroll in counseling to understand living with and coping with an addict.

United Recovery Project

Getting a loved one to a recovery center and enrolled in a treatment plan is half the battle on the road to sobriety. If you fear your loved one’s life is out of control due to drug abuse, get in touch with United Recovery Project for help. Learn more about intervention strategies, counseling alcoholics techniques and treatment plans available for all those in need.