What to Do if Your Intervention Fails

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Interventions are heart-to-heart conversations where loved ones come together to try and convince an addicted individual to go to rehab. The goal is to make the addict see how their behaviors are affecting everyone else in the group. Although interventions are one of the best ways to convince someone to go to rehab, not all interventions are successful.

After a failed intervention, you may beat yourself up, wonder what you did wrong, spend hours thinking about what you should have done instead, and live in constant fear for your loved one’s life. The truth is, you can do everything right during an intervention and it can still be unsuccessful. In many cases, interventions fail because the person struggling is simply not ready to get sober. An unsuccessful intervention is not your fault, but there are actions you can take to help your loved one in the future.

Top Causes of a Failed Intervention

First, it’s important to understand what caused your intervention to be unsuccessful. Acknowledging what went wrong can help you avoid the same mistakes in the future and mend the past. There are a number of reasons why addiction interventions fail, such as:

  • Improper planning
  • Bad timing or location
  • The individual was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and unable to make a coherent decision
  • Arguments, yelling, placing blame, or name-calling
  • Emotions take over and drive the intervention
  • Failing to set appropriate boundaries or giving in to the addict’s demands
  • The addict simply isn’t ready to accept help
  • No consequences are set forth for refusing treatment
  • No viable solution is presented during the intervention

In most cases, there is more than one reason why an intervention doesn’t go the way you want it to. There may have been multiple factors contributing to the outcome.

4 Things to Do After a Failed Intervention

Leave The Intervention on a High Note

It’s likely that your failed intervention ended with tears or an argument. You may be upset with yourself. Moreover, your addicted loved one may feel betrayed and attacked. Rather than letting an unsuccessful intervention hurt your family, you may have to be the bigger person and apologize to your addicted loved one.

Let him or her know that you did not mean any harm and that you are there anytime they are in need of assistance. Do not attack them for anything they said or for hurting your feelings. By ending the intervention on a high note, no matter what, you may increase the chances of your loved one feeling as though he or she can come to you for help when help is wanted.

Put an End to ALL Enabling Behaviors

Enabling behaviors will only make your loved one’s addiction worse. If you really want him or her to accept help, you must stop enabling and set strict boundaries. Examples of boundaries you may set forth include:

  • Not allowing your addicted loved one to come into your home until they accept help
  • Refusing to loan the individual money or pay their bills
  • Not bailing your loved one out of their own problems

When your loved one has nobody enabling his or her addiction anymore, he or she will be forced to face the consequences of addiction head-on. These consequences may make your loved one more willing to reach out for help.

Find Support For Yourself

You may feel powerless knowing your loved one is still using drugs and alcohol. You may even blame yourself for the failed intervention. However, neither of these things are your fault — no matter how much it feels like it.

Be sure to seek out support for yourself. Confide in your friends, family members, and other members of the intervention group about how you are feeling. Also, set aside time to do things you enjoy. You deserve it!

Try Again

Just because your first intervention failed doesn’t mean the second one will, too. If you are sure to troubleshoot your mistakes, hire a professional, and are prepared to stick to your word, there is no reason another intervention won’t be successful this time around.

How Can an Interventionist Help Me Stage a Successful Intervention?

The best way to ensure a successful intervention is by hiring a professional addiction specialist. A professional interventionist can help you accomplish many goals while avoiding a failed intervention. A hired professional can:

  • Help you figure out what caused your first intervention to go wrong
  • Facilitate in planning the intervention
  • Answer questions of group members involved in the intervention
  • Provide resources for your loved one
  • Identify any possible hazards or roadblocks that can stand in the way of a successful intervention
  • Hold family members accountable by encouraging them to follow through with their boundaries and commitments
  • Act as a mediator who keeps the group calm and focused on their goal during the intervention
  • Provide de-escalation tactics if the intervention turns ugly
  • Escort your loved one to a nearby rehab facility

Professional interventionists have seen many interventions fail and they know how to prevent unpleasant outcomes.

Unfortunately, even hiring a professional isn’t enough for some individuals. In rare cases, people must come to the conclusion themselves that they need rehab. These individuals cannot be persuaded even by the most experienced addiction professional.

Find Help With Drug and Alcohol Interventions Today

An unsuccessful intervention can feel defeating, but our team at New Jersey Addiction Interventions is here to help. With a staff of some of the top addiction experts in the nation, we assure you we can help you plan and host a productive and meaningful intervention. It doesn’t matter how far down your loved one has fallen or how many times you’ve tried to intervene in the past — this time can be different! Contact us now to see how we can help your family.

Medically Reviewed: July 12, 2021

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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