5 Tips on How to Prepare for a Friend’s Intervention

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It’s not easy watching a close friend’s life be ripped apart by drug or alcohol addiction. Sometimes, it’s even harder to intervene when a friend is suffering from addiction because it’s challenging to know what your place is. Should families be the only ones who stage interventions? Can friends hold an intervention for an addicted friend? Should you even get involved at all? These are all great questions that many people ask when they think a friend needs help. Although many interventions are organized and conducted by family members, friends play an important part in the process as well.

Think about it this way – many teenagers and young adults don’t feel comfortable sharing certain things with their families. Instead, they typically turn to close friends. As a result, friends might know each other better than their own families do. Plus, when one person experiences addiction, their friends are impacted as well. If you have a friend who is suffering from addiction, you should absolutely get involved – whether it is by joining the family during the process or by staging an intervention that consists only of friends of the afflicted individual. However, confronting an addicted friend isn’t easy, which is why we’ve put together a list of 5 tips on how to prepare for a friend’s intervention.

Learn About Addiction

First things first – before you confront someone about their substance abuse, you must learn about addiction. This will give you a better and clearer understanding of what your friend is going through, why he or she can’t stop using drugs or drinking, and what type of help your friend needs. Some things to remember when learning about addiction include:

  • Addiction is a disease and your friend is sick – not a bad person.
  • Your friend can stay sober with professional help and aftercare but you can’t force them to accept help if they don’t want it.
  • Many people who abuse substances do so because of underlying mental health conditions, trauma, or family history.
  • Denial is a common characteristic of addiction. Your friend might not admit that they have a problem.

In addition to learning about the disease of addiction, look into possible addiction treatment options as well. Create a list of rehab centers, intervention specialists, and support groups so these are ready to go if your friend accepts the help you are offering.

Reach Out To Your Friend’s Loved Ones

Before staging a friend’s intervention, it’s important to reach out to his or her loved ones. This includes family members, friends, classmates, teachers, mentors, and more. Most likely, your friend’s addiction has impacted many people who are all willing to help you with the process. Ask these people what they think, if they’ve noticed the same patterns that you have, and if they have the same concerns that you do. Similarly, ask if they have anything to add to the intervention or are interested in helping in any way. Other people may be able to see alternative perspectives that can benefit your friend’s intervention. Furthermore, you may be able to relate to and gain support from your addicted friend’s loved ones.

Plan What You Want To Say

Talking about addiction and substance abuse isn’t easy. It’s a touchy, emotional subject – especially if your friend is at the center of an addiction intervention. As a result, it’s normal for interventions to get heated and emotionally charged. When this happens, you might get tangled up in your emotions and forget everything that you wanted to say. However, staging an intervention for a friend isn’t just about getting them to go to treatment. It’s also about giving you an opportunity to express your concerns, desires, and needs. Instead of trying to wing it, try writing down exactly what you want to say. Explain to your friend what changes you have observed, why you are worried, and that you will support them no matter what their decision.

Find Support For Yourself

It’s true that you can’t help anyone before first helping yourself. Staging an intervention for a friend is stressful and scary, so you need support, too. Make sure you’re practicing self-care and staying connected to your friends and family. If you let your friend’s addiction consume your thoughts and life, you’ll become anxious, tired, and even depressed. If you’re unsure of where to turn for help, a counselor or an Al-Anon meeting is a good place to start.

Maintain Realistic Expectations

When you did your research on addiction and substance use disorder, you learned that you can’t force someone to get sober. You can’t force someone to do anything – no matter how badly you want to. Knowing this, it’s still easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and become offended when a friend denies having a problem or refuses your help. Although it hurts to watch your friend suffer, you aren’t responsible for saving your friend. Whatever happens during your friend’s intervention, know that none of it is your fault. If you maintain realistic expectations that you cannot control other people, you will be better prepared for any unwanted outcomes.

Get Help With Staging an Intervention for a Friend

Sounds easy enough – right? Wrong. You never know what will happen during an intervention for a friend and if you’re not a professional, you shouldn’t take it entirely into your own hands. Instead, seek help from a professional addiction intervention specialist. Interventionists are trained addiction experts who will help you prepare for your friend’s intervention, mediate the conversation, and help guide your friend on their path to sobriety.

If you have a friend who is suffering from addiction and you think it is time to stage an intervention, contact us today.

Medically Reviewed: April 24, 2020

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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