Intervention Guide

How to Lovingly Intervene on the Woman (Mom, Sister, Wife, Daughter) in Your Life

Addiction runs rampant in America, and the best way to intervene is through an intervention. 1 out of 10 Americans over the age of 12 is an addict.

If you suspect that a woman in your life is an addict, one of the best ways to intervene is to stage an intervention. A healthy and loving substance abuse intervention may open her eyes’ to her addiction. It may also encourage her to seek appropriate treatment and help.

What Is a Substance Abuse Intervention?

Learn about interventions


At its core, an intervention is a tactic that uses peer pressure to encourage an addict to:

  • Admit that she has a substance abuse problem
  • Face the consequences of her actions
  • Understand the hardships that she has put others through
  • Seek an appropriate treatment plan to get sober

Close friends and family gather to show support and to make their stance known to the addict. Each individual plays an important role in establishing how dire the situation is.

For example, a husband may want to speak up about how his wife’s addiction has affected their home life. He may want to vocalize his concerns with how her addiction harms the children and the marriage. A sibling may want to detail the behavioral changes he or she has seen ever due to the addiction.

If you’re not sure whether she’s addicted or not, take a look at our addiction quizzes. It should give you a good idea about the addiction has escalated to the point where treatment is needed.

Signs that an Addiction Intervention Is Needed

Many addicts can be high functioning. They can run errands, keep a job and perform housework even with an addiction. To spot an addiction, you’ll have to look for small behavioral and lifestyle changes. Even then, it can be difficult to determine whether an intervention is needed.

Most addicts are also in denial. While they may own up to their drug or alcohol use, they may not think that they’re addicted. In fact, they may brush off your concerns.

Speak to an interventionist if you don’t know whether you should proceed. With that said, here are some of the top 9 signs that a drug abuse intervention is needed:

  1. She has built up a tolerance and uses a significant more amount of drugs, or drinks a lot more.
  2. She frequently blacks out or forgets what she was doing or what happened.
  3. She’s having financial problems due to drug or alcohol use.
  4. She seems to be unable to quit, or gets increasingly moody and irritated when asked to quit.
  5. She engages in risky behavior that she wouldn’t have before. She seems to not care about the consequences of her actions.
  6. She isolates herself from family members and friends. She no longer goes out to social events and would rather spend time doing drugs or drinking.
  7. She is doing poorly at work or is getting worse grades in school.
  8. She is doctor shopping to get more prescription drugs or trying to convince the doctor to up her dosage.
  9. She neglects her outer appearance. For example, her clothes may be dishevelled.

There are plenty of drug and alcohol rehab programs designed specifically for women. Gender-specific rehab programs touch sensitive factors that affect women more than men.

Drugs and alcohol have different biological and psychological effects on women. For example, women tend to spiral faster into addiction than men. They are also more likely to experience co-occurring disorders as well.

3 Popular Types of Interventions

Once you’ve established that she needs an intervention, consider the type that is most suitable. There is an array of different intervention types available. Each uses a special tactic to get the point across. We’ll look at some of the more popular and common options below.

Tough Love Intervention

Tough love interventions are mostly for parents who are trying to get through to their addicted children. This approach first appeared in the 1980s. The gist of this tactic is to stand firm on having your daughters or sons enroll in a treatment program. If the children refused to comply, they would face harsh consequences, which is where the “tough love” comes from.

This type of intervention establishes who is in control of the household. The intervention specialist will first meet with parents and siblings to determine:

  • How the addict’s behavior has affected the family, as well as themselves
  • Whether any negative consequences were caused by the addiction
  • The extent of which the family is willing to go through to get the addict to get treatment
  • The best approach for the family to confront the addict, and the type of language to use

Next, the intervention specialist hosts a surprise meeting with the addict. The family confronts the addict for his or her behavior.

Parents outline what the potential consequences are for not getting sober. The consequences can be mild or severe. It depends on what the family is comfortable with.

Some common consequences that many families choose to use include:

  • Having the addict leave the family home
  • Refusing to provide legal help or bail money
  • Stopping any type and form of financial assistance

This approach can also be taken with drug and alcohol users who are not addicted yet. Parents who use this approach are able to prevent their kids from becoming addicts. Studies show that parents who don’t use this tactic are 30% more likely to have children that grow up and become alcoholics.

Johnson Model of Intervention

Another popular intervention method is the Johnson Model of Intervention. This is by far one of the most effective approaches. This confrontational approach focuses on several aspects, like:

  • Educating the caregivers, which include spouses and parents
  • Teaching family and friends how to confront the addict
  • Teaching family and friends how to encourage the addict to seek treatment

The Johnson Model of Intervention focuses on providing a caring environment. Instead of ganging up on the addict, family members and friends are to write letters. The letters should outline their affection for the addict.

The letters should also list consequences for not getting sober. For example, a husband may decide to abstain from financial supporting his wife if she continues with her addiction. A father may decide to refuse legal and financial help to his daughters.

The letters are meant to come across as caring and loving. That’s because most addicts already have their defenses up. A loving and caring approach will be more likely to change the addict’s mind.

7 Components of a Johnson Model of Intervention

The Johnson Model of Intervention can be broken down into seven components. When using this intervention method on women in your life, make sure that the approach involves:

  • Having a team of people to confront the addict. The team may consist of friends, family members and even colleagues.
  • Planning out an effective approach that will get the message across.
  • Focusing on care. The addict should not be condemned. Instead, family members and friends should speak up about their affections. They should voice their concerns on how the addition is affecting the addict’s life.
  • Focusing on addiction only. This is not a time to discuss other issues.
  • Providing strong evidence in the letters and conversations. Describe past events in detail.
  • Encouraging and asking the addict to seek treatment. This should be presented as an improvement in her way of life.
  • Exploring various drug and alcohol rehab treatment options together.

The Johnson Model of Intervention is meant to come across as loving and caring. It should not attack addicted women at all.

How to Write an Intervention Letter

An intervention letter can be very effective. It gives you time to collect and organize your thoughts, so that it is more understandable. You can also watch the language that you use, so you don’t offend the addict. It’s important that you don’t use language that attacks the addict.

Speak from the heart, and keep your letters short and sweet. It’s important to emphasize that addiction is a disease that needs to be treated.

When describing how addiction has affected the addict’s life, describe the events in detail. The key is to have evidence that supports your claims. It’s important to be more factual than anything. You want to avoid being overly emotional. You also want to avoid using any language that may convey blame or judgment.

ARISE Intervention

ARISE intervention is a popular alternative to the Johnson Model of Intervention. While similar in many ways, this tactic is less confrontational. It tends to evoke fewer negative emotions.

This substance abuse intervention approach focuses more outpatient treatment programs. It’s a less intense approach model. The approach maximizes the amount of successful engagement that loved ones may have with an addict when there’s a minimum amount of professional effort and time.  The approach not only focuses on the user, but also the entire family. It advertises addiction treatment as something that is beneficial to the entire family.

The ARISE intervention method is quite effective. A study found that 83% of patients sought treatment after an ARISE intervention.

One of the more unique and defining features is that ARISE meetings are planned ahead of time. Addicts aren’t surprised with meetings, and the intervention usually takes several meetings.

This intervention tactic also takes the time to educate family and friends to the dangers of addictions. The approach explains in detail why treatment is necessary.

Intervention specialists also take time to help family members and friends understand the addiction. This includes how it feels like to be addicted to a substance, among many other factors.

How to Do a Drug or Alcohol Abuse Intervention

Staging an intervention is easier with a specialist. However, you can try to move forward without one as well. There are 6 vital steps that you should follow when staging an intervention for the women in your life.

Get together with her friends, family and even colleagues. It’s important to have as many people there that care about her as possible. Bigger groups tend to be more effective. Make sure that everyone is on the same page to present a united front.

Be sure to choose wisely. Candidates should be people she loves and respects. It’s also best if candidates are level headed. Someone who is too emotional may distract the group, and cause the conversation to go off-topic. Pick someone to be the leader and to take charge.

She might deny that she’s addicted. Or, she might not agree with the facts that are brought up during the intervention.

Before the intervention can take place, everyone in the group must understand how an addiction works. They should learn more about the substance that is being abused, as well as the severity of the addiction.

Collect evidence on how the addiction has affected her life. If she’s your daughter, look at her grades or bring up behavioral changes. If she’s your wife, discuss whether she’s neglected her household responsibilities. Write down details of specific events, and compile the evidence together.

Having a strong case is important in an intervention. It’s vital that you aren’t making assumptions or false accusations.

The next step is to come up with a goal. Collectively agree on what the goal of the intervention is. Be specific and realistic. For example, consider whether the group would like her to seek treatment before a certain time.

Establishing a goal is the only way to determine whether the intervention was a success. If you’re not sure whether a goal is realistic or not, don’t hesitate to contact one of our counsellors for more information. We’ll help you determine what you can reasonably expect.

For example, we can walk you through the withdrawal timeline for various substances. It would be unreasonable to expect the addict to get better in a single day.

Don’t leave any details up for speculation. Plan out every part of the intervention. This includes where the intervention will be held and how the conversation will go. It’s also a good idea to determine who will be in attendance, as well as where each person will sit or stand.

It’s important to choose an environment that is safe and calm. A neutral location is highly recommended. This decreases the risk of violence. It also helps to de-escalate the situation.

Set the tone of the intervention by deciding upon the type of language the use. Make sure that the message is accurate.

Many intervention specialists recommend using assertive language and communication with “I messages”. An example that may be used in an alcohol abuse intervention is:

“I feel frustrated that you continue to drink alcohol until you pass out. It harms our relationship and your health. I hope that you will consider going to rehab and getting sober.”

External circumstances affect drug use in adolescent girls than boys. Gender-specific factors that should be addressed or looked at during the intervention include:

  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Cigarette use
  • Conduct disorder
  • Dysfunctional family life
  • Low parental attachment
  • Low parental monitoring
  • Low parental concern
  • Maternal drug abuse
  • Unstructured home environment

Speak to the interventionist about whether to bring these issues up or not. It’s also important to determine the best way to bring up these factors. The key is to bring awareness to these topics and to find solutions for them.

Cost of an Intervention

Intervention costs will vary from city to city. The cost is based on many different factors, like:

  • The credentials of the professional
  • The amount of planning time that it takes the intervention specialist
  • The type of intervention method chosen
  • The length of the intervention
  • The intensity and length of the drug and alcohol abuse

Speak to an intervention specialist ahead of time to get an estimate. Interventions don’t necessarily have to be for addictions.

If you notice that the person is using drugs and en route to an addiction, an intervention may help. These preventative interventions are much briefer and also less expensive.

Speak Up in an Intervention to Stop Addiction in Its Tracks

It’s difficult to know what to do when the women in your life become addicted to substances. An intervention may be your best hope in helping them get through these difficult times.

If you suspect that someone you know is addicted, talk to an intervention specialist. The specialists can help you decide what to do next. Not only will they assess the situation with professionals, but they’ll also come up with a workable and reasonable intervention approach.

An intervention will help you get your message across in an effective and loving way. Talk to the specialists about your concerns, so they can help you plan a smooth meeting.

Once the intervention is complete, the next step is to help your loved one find the support they need. Look into the various treatment programs available.

Contact us and we’ll explore all the various options with you and them. You’ll be in good hands!