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Staging an Intervention for Opioid Addiction

If someone you care about has an opioid addiction, and you’ve tried communicating your worries with no success, then it might be time to schedule an intervention. An intervention takes place when the loved ones of an addict come together to express their concerns for the person’s wellbeing, in hopes that they’ll accept treatment.

Each person usually conveys how the addict’s behavior has negatively impacted them personally. This gives the addict a comprehensive view of the problem, from a range of perspectives.

There are three primary steps to staging an intervention that you’ll want to understand fully before proceeding. First, you’ll want to do your research on opioid addiction so as to support your choice to organize this meeting.

For more information on interventions, or for help finding an addiction treatment program, call 800-466-0354 ( Who Answers?).

Signs of Opioid Addiction

Confronting a loved one about opioid addiction isn’t easy, especially since they may not be ready to admit they have a problem. It’s helpful to know the signs of opioid addiction before implementing the intervention. Here are some common indicators:

  • Relationship problems
  • Trouble at work
  • Financial issues
  • Secretiveness
  • Depressed mood
  • Decreased motivation
  • Neglect for personal hygiene
  • Decline in physical and/or mental health
  • Negative behavior

Organizing an Intervention

Staging an Intervention

An intervention requires careful thought and planning to be effective.

There are five crucial steps in planning an intervention that must be followed in order to achieve a desirable outcome. This is not something to be done on your own, even if you think you know this person better than anyone else.

Hire an intervention professional

Although it may seem better to include only close family and friends, this actually can make things worse. An intervention specialist knows exactly how to organize this meeting and will provide advice for effective communication. They are also trained to deal with all possible reactions the addict may have, including violent behavior. Without a professional being present, you’re putting each member of the intervention in potential danger.

Create a strategy

The intervention will be organized to fit the addict’s particular needs.  It’s important to include the family and friends that have the closest relationship with this person. You may want to include their children, if they have any, or elderly family members, but this decision is difficult due to the intensity and seriousness of the situation. An intervention specialist will help gauge whether or not this is a good idea based on the specific situation.

Research and Practice

The intervention specialist will provide comprehensive information about opioid addiction and treatment. This knowledge will help each member formulate their story about how the addiction has personally altered their life. At this point, an intervention rehearsal can take place, where each member shares their thoughts and concerns.

It’s important that everyone writes down exactly what they want to say, both to enable rehearsal and to ensure nothing is left out during the official intervention, when emotions will likely be at play.

Understanding a Loved One’s Opioid Addiction

Schedule the Intervention

It’s important to choose a location where the addicted person will be most comfortable; preferably a place they are familiar with. Try to choose a time of day where they will likely be sober. Interventions generally last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, but there is no specific time limit.

Mentally prepare

Of course you want the intervention to go smoothly with no hang-ups; but this outcome can’t be predicted. Prepare yourself for all potential reactions. Be aware that the addicted person could become violent, or even refuse to take part from the very beginning. An intervention specialist will know how to handle each potential reaction, increasing the probability of a successful outcome.


During the intervention, the addict needs to know what is expected of them during and after treatment. Discuss goals that the group would like accomplished post-intervention. Creating consequences that will be enforced if they don’t follow through will encourage the addicted person to comply. For example, if the person is a parent, the consequence could be losing custody. Or if the person is a teenager, certain privileges could be taken away, or they could even be kicked out of their parents’ home.

Providing ultimatums may seem harsh, and may be one of the most difficult parts of an intervention, but you’re loved one’s safety, health, and overall life will be better off for it.

For more advice on staging an intervention, call 800-466-0354 ( Who Answers?).

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