Intervening So an Addict Hears You

group man talking

Patrick Kennedy’s account of family intervention with his father is one many people know well. Senator Kennedy was not aware he was walking into a room with family and a professional interventionist. This group was ready to convince him to enter into treatment. Senator Kennedy took one look around and walked away. Angered by the attempt to intervene in his personal affairs, he stopped talking to his son. Learn more about why interventions are important but it takes time to get an individual with addiction to hear the call to action.

What Works

The past 13 years have demonstrated that individuals with addiction greatly impacted families by the choices and decisions made. Families are often under-served and under-recognized. Learning to fight for an individual’s life from addiction takes time and dedication. Some of the following guidelines can be helpful when trying to find the right support for a family member:

  • Reaction and response
  • What to say and do
  • When to step in or away
  • Conducting a successful intervention

New Kind of Intervention

Getting an individual into treatment may feel like it takes a miracle but it can happen only if a professional is brought in to support the entire family. Imagining interventions is one way of doing it but also thinking of highly uncomfortable situations is sometimes a barrier to getting an individual necessary help. Interventions do not have to be big and dramatic to be effective. Quiet moments can be more successful than large surprise show downs.


CRAFT has three steps for an intervention:

Create a list of treatment options

It is not about handing an individual a card to get well soon and seek help. The loved one has no way to provide self help at this point. Someone will need to make the calls, ask about insurance, wait lists and admission criteria to set up an individual for success.

Identify wishes

When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there will always be glimmers of motivation for change. Learning to recognize moments like this will provide moments to bring up treatment. A dip conveys a sense of frustration or inability to do anything. When a person expresses sadness, embarrassment or shame, this is a result of the drug use and that individual may be more or less susceptible to help in that moment.

Practice what to say

Families who learn how to communicate in a gentle and positive way have more ability to listen and engage with the individual. This can be done by scripting out what to say and practicing it with the interventionist and one another. Practice what it feels like to hear both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as it relates to how the person may respond. By communicating calmly and with respect, detach from emotions and be prepared with possible treatment options. The intervention will then have the best chance of success and providing a bridge of opportunity between addiction and recovery.

Sustain Recovery provides support for adolescents in recovery. Call us to find out how we can support your journey back from addiction to health, healing and recovery.