Preparing for an intervention



When you realize that your son is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it can be overwhelming, and you may feel paralyzed with fear, anger, shock, and disappointment. Many parents also struggle with denial when it comes to their son's addiction. It is difficult to accept that your child is risking their life because of the disease of addiction. Accepting the reality of the addiction is, of course, the first step. After you have come to terms with the facts, encouraging your son to take a step towards recovery is the next most important part of the process.

Some parents quickly want to confront their son about his behavior and demand that he seek treatment immediately. This impulsive reaction is rarely useful, however, and typically does more harm than good. Parents are advised to, instead, carefully plan an intervention to encourage their son to seek treatment in a loving and supportive fashion. An intervention is an "all in" process that includes a group of loved ones coming together to be transparent about a collective concern and to create healthy boundaries moving forward. Here's how to get started with the process of staging an intervention:

1. Get other loved ones on board

The key to a successful intervention is to surround your son with people who he knows love him unconditionally. Reach out to influential family members, lifelong friends, and potentially a teacher or religious leader your son has kept in contact with. It's important to select individuals to participate that are indeed connected to your son. It may be tempting to call all of your supports, fill them in on the situation, and invite them to be part of the intervention. It's important to consider how this may feel for your son-- like the rumor mill has already started about his addiction and that he's surrounded by people who merely wanted to be part of the gossip rather than people who genuinely love and care about him. Go outside visit new places like beaches and enjoy with friends to release your stress.


Selecting individuals who are sober is also an important component of the process. Your son may use drugs in the company of a significant other or childhood friend. While these individuals may want to be a part of the intervention process, their presence is often counterproductive. Stick with a sober, loving, connected core group of individuals to help
in this essential intervention process. 

2. Remain Covert

An intervention is meant to be a sudden but intentional meeting that addresses destructive choices and drug use to help an individual make an immediate change towards recovery. This process, while valuable, is often uncomfortable for the addict in need. If your son catches wind than an intervention is coming up, he may purposefully avoid showing up. Keep the plan for intervention under-wraps the best you can until the time is right.

3. Come from a place of love

If you have a son who is struggling with addiction, you have likely been let down more times than you can count, and you may harbor feelings of resentment and anger because of this. While those feelings are valid, an intervention isn't an appropriate time to play the blame game and send your son on a guilt trip. Try to focus on the positive things about who your son is when he isn't using, and why you love him, to intervene as effective and positive as possible.

4. Hire a professional interventionist:

A professional interventionist will be able to guide your son's family and loved ones as they plan and execute the intervention. These professionals can connect you to appropriate treatment facilities, help you to form your statements and boundaries during the intervention, and help counsel you and your son through this difficult process. A professional will also be able to ensure that the intervention is completed based on best practices of the drug and alcohol recovery field and that any adverse outcomes (like rageful or violent outbursts) are handled appropriately.


5. Make plans for treatment ahead of time

The goal of an intervention is to get your son to seek treatment immediately. Work with your professional interventionist to select an appropriate residential treatment program, discuss your insurance coverage, and prepare to provide proper transportation to the program. If your son decides to seek treatment, you'll want all of the details to be in place so you can avoid delaying the recovery process.

6. Establish firm boundaries:

Being in a relationship with a drug addict is destructive. Parents often develop codependent behaviors and inadvertently enable their son's continued drug or alcohol use. For this reason, it is imperative that you work with your interventionist to decide what types of support you are no longer willing to offer if your son decides he doesn't want to seek treatment.  Many parents choose to no longer offer financial support in the way of transportation, housing, and liquid funds moving forward, but you can work with your interventionist or other trained counseling staff to help you make decisions that best fit your situation.

7. Prepare for the worst

Recovery is a personal choice. No matter how much a person is loved and supported unless they have the personal desire to begin the recovery process, they will be unable to attain sustained sobriety. Your son may choose not to seek treatment at this time. That is his choice, and you cannot control it. Participating in an intervention is a huge step, and by doing this, establishing boundaries, and being clear about your expectations, you have done all you can do for your son at this time. 

8. Seek personal treatment and support

Addiction is kind of disease that is often called a family disease because it affects more than just the drug user. Family members, and particularly parents, struggle with feelings of guilt, disappointment, and anger. Participating in individual, group, or family therapy, along with 12-Step programs for families like Al-Anon are an essential part of your own recovery process.