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The Pros and Cons of an Addiction Intervention


InterventionWatching somebody struggling with an addiction problem can be truly heart breaking. If this person does not seem willing to get some help, does it mean you have to just sit-by and watch the disaster unfold? Is the only option tough love and allowing this person to keep deteriorating in the hope that he or she will eventually hit rock bottom and agree to help? It is incredibly hard to just watch on helplessly while someone you love is self-destructing, which is why you may want to try an intervention. This can be an effective way to get the person you love to stop drinking or abusing drugs, but there are pros and cons associated with this type of action.

What is an Addiction Intervention?

An addiction intervention is any type of planned encounter where the goal is to get the person to change his or her behaviour or agree to help. It is possible to have a one-on-one intervention, but it usually involves a group made of friends, family, or work colleagues. Ideally, a trained therapist should lead this type of encounter as it reduces the likelihood of anything going wrong.

The Pros of an Addiction Intervention

Addiction intervention is a proven technique that has already helped many people break free of addiction. It is often a used as a last-resort after family members have tried unsuccessfully to informally encourage the person to get some needed help. The benefits of an addiction intervention can include:

An Intervention Can Break Through Denial

An intervention can be a very intense experience because it usually means that the person is being forced to face the consequences of their behaviour. It is usual for each member of the group to talk about how they have been impacted by the drinking and drug use, so it needs to be done in a non-confrontational manner. The fact that the situation is being discussed so openly and seriously makes it hard for the person to deny or minimise.

An Ultimatum Can Encourage the Addict to Get Help

It is usual for an intervention to include some type of help – for example, the person may be told that he or she needs to leave the home unless help is sought right away. This type of ultimatum should never be given unless the people involved are prepared to follow through, but when it is given in earnest, it can be enough to at least convince the addict to agree to be helped.

Individuals Can Break Free of Addiction Even If They Feel Coerced into Rehab

It may be the case that the person only agrees to get help to appease others. It is true that this individual will need to want to get better in order to get the most out of rehab, but there are plenty of examples of those entering treatment reluctantly but changing their mind once there. Putting pressure on loved ones could mean they are entering the process reluctantly, but this does not mean they will remain reluctant. A rehab provides a therapeutic environment, which can greatly boost a person’s motivation for change.

An Intervention Means Doing Something

An addiction intervention might not work, but it least it means taking some action. If you are concerned about this person, it is probably worth trying this course of action. At the very least, it shows this person that others still care enough to do something.

The Cons of an Addiction Intervention

There are some risks associated with an addiction intervention, so it is important to be aware of these. There are things that can be done to reduce the chances of things going wrong, which is why enlisting the help of an addiction therapist or intervention specialist is highly recommended. Some of the possible disadvantages to this type of action include:

It can Make People More Resistant to Recovery

If the intervention goes wrong, it could make your loved one feel more resistant to recovery. This can happen when the person decides that she or he has been treated unfairly. It is more likely to occur when the intervention is poorly managed and there are mistakes such as:

  • holding the intervention in a public place (for example, at work) where the individual is likely to feel embarrassed
  • inviting individuals to take part in the intervention who antagonise the addicted person
  • using the intervention as a forum for attacking this person and listing all of their faults
  • only offering criticisms and no solutions
  • people at the intervention exaggerate the situation, giving the individual the excuse to ignore what is being said.

The Loved One May Call Your Bluff

If you give your loved one an ultimatum as part of the intervention, but they call your bluff and you do not follow through, it can ruin your credibility going forward. This is why it is so vital that you only make threats when you are going to back them up by action. The ultimatum also needs to be very clear about the consequences and when these consequences come into effect. In other words, it is better to tell your loved one that you are going to kick them out of the home at the end of the intervention unless they agree to help right away.

The Chance of Recovery May Be Wasted Without a Plan of Action

One of the biggest mistakes many make when staging an intervention is that they fail to have something in place should the person agree to get help. Your loved one may be motivated to change by the intervention, but this motivation can be lost if there is not some way of utilising it right away. Ideally, you should have a rehab bed ready, so the person is not going to have a chance to change his or her mind. The fact that you have something ready and waiting increases the pressure on this person to agree to help, so it really is a good idea.

The Person May React to the Intervention by Behaving Badly

Sometimes the person can feel so betrayed by the intervention that it is used as an excuse to go on a drinking or drug binge. This is a sign that the individual just does not want to consider what is being said, but it doesn’t mean that the intervention has been a mistake. This action may have planted a seed in their thinking that will later lead to fruition.

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