When Is It Time to Seek Drug Intervention?

woman shooting up heroin

Drug intervention has been mentioned in recent weeks in news stories about the deaths of beloved pop star Prince, 57, and professional WWE wrestler Chyna, 46, who have both died of suspected prescription drug overdoses.

What’s more, it has been reported that the inner circles of both celebrities had been planning to host drug interventions to address the stars’ alleged struggles with addiction.

In both cases, unfortunately, such an intervention came too late, but their deaths no doubt have added to the conversation about drug addiction, and the tragic turn of events may have others wondering whether they should seek drug intervention for a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

Intervention often is an emotionally overwhelming experience for people on both sides — the person who is deep into his or her addiction and the people who care about the person’s success in kicking the addiction.

A meeting of this kind is usually considered when other attempts to get the person to face their addiction and own up to their behavior fall short, which likely happens because the person is in denial about their situation. This could be a first-time meeting or a repeat meeting if previous attempts to get clean or drug treatments and/or interventions did not work out.

What Is The Goal Of A Drug Intervention?

Drug interventions are held to address the addict up front about his or her illness and get him or her into a drug treatment program as soon as possible.

There are different types and approaches to intervention, but in many cases, multiple people are involved as it ensures there is support to confront the addict about his or her illness and hold the person accountable for his or her actions.

Interventions not only help the drug addict but those who are hosting the meeting as it allows them to reflect upon how addiction is affecting their lives and to share those experiences with the addict, who may or may not be aware of how their behavior affects the people around them. It is also a time to address the codependent behavior of family members who may not be aware they are engaging in it and encouraging it.

It is also for friends and family to take a look at their own behavior and clarify their roles in the situation, such as enabling their loved one in his or her addiction. This is also a good time to set boundaries for healthy living.

When Should You Consider Setting Up An Intervention?

Despite the personal nature of an intervention, there are ways to go about encouraging someone to seek the help they need.

Confronting an alcoholic or drug addict about their substance abuse can be a difficult decision, but waiting it out while the person continues to struggle with their addictions isn’t particularly helpful and can lead to undesirable results for everyone.

Allowing someone to “hit rock bottom,” the popular belief that nothing can be done for an addict until the person is in a tough, life-changing event that forces him or her to seek help, can be perilous. Data show that millions of people are struggling with addiction and fail to seek treatment.

Consider this: According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 20.2 million individuals age 12 and older in 2013 who were classified as needing substance abuse treatment did not enter a treatment facility during the past year.

Of those, 908,000, or 4.5 percent, expressed they perceived that they did need substance abuse treatment but did not receive it. In this group, 65.2 percent (592,000) reported they made no effort to get treatment while the other 34.8 percent (316,000) did make an effort to seek help.

While the study does not say whether survey respondents participated in an intervention or were approached about joining one, 9 percent of the respondents interviewed (an annual average between 2010 and 2013) said they did not know where to go for treatment while 37.3 percent said they did not have or could not afford health coverage.

The reasons people do not seek treatment vary, but it is possible that affected individuals may not be aware of where to seek help or the resources that are available to them. Your loved one may be in this group. An intervention approach can help raise awareness and connect people with people and places that can help them start the detox and recovery process.

What To Look For…

There are signs that intervention is the next step to take. Drastic changes often signal that something is wrong, but some changes are more gradual before they are outright noticeable. Among them are:

  • An increase in tolerance to alcohol and drugs as addiction grows
  • Deterioration in appearance, such as a disheveled, tired, rundown or haggard look; bloodshot eyes
  • Isolation or avoiding interaction with others
  • Forgetfulness (sometimes called blackouts and brownouts) or hazy memories of events that have taken place
  • Irresponsible handling of finances
  • Risky behaviors that endangered themselves or others
  • Mood swings and/or irrational behavior
  • Noticeable decline in mental and/or physical health


If you see any of these in your loved one or if you recognize any of these in your own behavior, it may be time to consider intervention.

Tips For A Successful Drug Intervention

Even with the best intentions, unexpected things can happen during an intervention. Here are a few before-and-after tips that can make the process flow easier.

  • Consider the timing of the intervention. Invite the addicted person in when he or she isn’t high or going through withdrawal. Such conditions can be distracting and take away from the meeting’s effectiveness. Ensure there is enough time to hold the meeting and that there are minimal to no distractions.
  • Prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Interventions should be carefully planned as casually or hurriedly arranged meetings can bring undesired results. You may want to rehearse ahead of time to ensure the meeting retains a formal and civil tone.
  • Consider whether the person who is the focus of the meeting needs to be told ahead of time that a meeting is taking place. However, don’t mislead the person as he or she may resent being there and refuse to participate in the meeting.
  • Anticipate possible objections that may arise. It is reasonable to expect the subject of the meeting to respond defensively and show signs of denial about their condition and the situation they are in.
  • Arrange the meeting with an interventionist, therapist other licensed mental health professional. This person may be able to assist with treatment options including where to send the person to treatment. This may be arranged before the meeting starts.
  • Keep the intervention on track. Don’t stray from the purpose of the meeting or allow it to spin out of control.

Getting Help

out[atient program

The effort to get an addicted person enrolled in a drug treatment program can save someone’s life. Though sometimes uncomfortable, intervention often is the next logical step. It is important to realize, however, that it is one key step in a process. Staying in treatment is up to the individual, but getting the person to the point of realizing he or she needs it can be a collective effort.

If you are concerned about your loved one’s use of alcohol or drugs, Recovery Hub has available resources to help you. For more information about recovery or to discuss the available treatment options, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4325.

Our specialists and intake team are always available to those in need. At Recovery Hub, we are personally invested in each and every patient. It’s our goal to help you or your loved one begin the healing journey and achieve lasting sobriety.

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