7 Steps for Confronting a Drug Problem


Knowing how to confront a drug problem in a friend or loved one can be a confusing, emotionally draining experience. Often, a formal and intentional intervention is the best method. By gathering together many people who have been negatively affected by the addict's behavior, you gain support for yourself and help to highlight the severity of the problem to the drug user.

There are several things to keep in mind when planning and conducting a drug intervention. The following points will help you provide your friend or loved one with all the support her or she needs to commit to getting help.

Find a Therapist Before You Begin

Don't wait until after you've met with the addict. A trained counselor or therapist will help you design the best intervention, depending on the circumstances, and can even sit through with you.

Gather the Intervention Team

Identify family members and friends to take part in the intervention. These people will all be responsible for supporting the addict during treatment and recovery, and should be able to constructively communicate with the addict exactly how theaddictionhas affected them. Children and other drug users should not be involved with the intervention.

Plan Your Strategy

Before confronting the addict, make sure the whole team has a chance to meet with the therapist and that each person understands his or her role. Establish the order in which everyone will speak, and work together to isolate specific consequences should the addict refuse treatment.

Arrange for Treatment

One of the most important parts of an intervention is the ability to send your family member directly to treatment following their commitment to do so. This means that you should have the details of your desired treatment program worked out ahead of time. These include where the program is located, any necessary admission paperwork, and arranging for payment and insurance, if applicable.

Invite the Addict and Hold the Intervention

During the intervention, one person should be designated as the leader, whose job it is to keep the conversation on track and hold the other participants to their agreed upon roles. In many cases, the therapist will lead the intervention, or you can arrange for a specially trained intervention professional to assist. These professionals know how to confront a drug problem and can do so in a supportive but firm manner.

The main goal of the meeting should be very specific: to get the addict to agree to seek treatment immediately. There is no place for accusations or trying to make the addict feel guilty. Instead, use specific examples to illustrate why it is important to each member of the team that the addict get help. Tell the addict exactly what steps you and others are prepared to take if they refuse treatment (divorce or separation, taking away the kids, etc.).

Demand Immediate Action

Finally, ask the addict directly whether he or she is willing to go directly to treatment. If he or she agrees, arrange to begin treatment that day, if possible. Many interventions are held in the morning for exactly this reason. If several days pass, the addict might change his or her mind and undo all the preparation that went into the intervention. Make sure the treatment center and relevant therapists are available the day of the intervention, and agree on methods of transport beforehand.


An intervention is always stressful for everyone involved. Be prepared for anger, sadness, and denial from the addict, as well as anger and frustration from members of the intervention team. Keep reminding yourself, the addict, and the other team members that you are doing this to help the person you care about get the help for theiraddictionthat they need.


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