In 2021, approximately one in three adults aged 18 and older in the United States struggled with a substance abuse disorder, and one in four had some type of mental illness. Close to half of those individuals admitted they never received the help they needed for recovery. For those who fail to reach out for treatment on their own, it may be up to family members and loved ones to step in to start the intervention process. Knowing how to plan an intervention can be useful if someone you love requires help for a mental health issue or an addiction but refuses to enter a treatment center on their own.

At Camelback Recovery, a leading mental health and addiction treatment center in Phoenix, AZ, we assist families in planning an intervention by offering compassionate expertise. We use multiple techniques to navigate the denial stage and provide resources and treatment methods to help individuals address their addiction and mental health issues.

Man, writing in a notebook at a desk, focused on how to plan an intervention effectively.


We can help you achieve permanent sobriety that gives you your life back. Call to learn more about our therapy options in Phoenix, AZ.

Understanding the Need for an Intervention

Drug and alcohol addiction creates chemical imbalances within the brain and causes damage to areas responsible for cognitive functions such as decision-making, attention, memory, processing speeds, and multitasking. Once these changes occur, it can be difficult for someone to stop drinking or misusing drugs without professional assistance or intervention.

It’s not uncommon for individuals with substance abuse disorder to also have some type of serious mental illness. Referred to as a co-occurring mental disorder, this underlying condition often makes addiction treatment and recovery more challenging. It can impact family dynamics on every level, including financially, psychologically, and socially.

At some point, most people face some type of mental health issue, including depression and anxiety. The way people react to these issues varies from one person to another. What might not seem like a big deal to one individual might be a major crisis for someone else. Recognizing the signs that a family member needs to seek help in a treatment center for a mental health issue is important if you’re looking to support someone who’s struggling. The same thing applies to those battling a substance use disorder. While everyone reacts differently, there are common indicators that an intervention for a loved one’s addiction may be necessary.

  • Visible signs of addiction. Physical signs of addiction may include bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, unexplained weight loss or gain, tremors, and slurred speech.
  • Changes in behavior. Sudden changes in an individual’s behavior when taking drugs or alcohol or in those with a mental health disorder can be a major warning sign that requires professional help. This includes sudden mood swings, increased irritability and agitation, and withdrawal from things once loved.
  • Neglecting responsibilities. This includes absenteeism, a sudden drop in grades, or failing to meet deadlines.
  • Problems with relationships. Sudden changes in relationships with family members, coworkers, and peers, including increased arguments, lying, stealing, and distancing themselves from others, can indicate a major problem.
  • Physical health issues. Addiction and mental health issues can lead to frequent illnesses, infections, stomach problems, headaches, and fatigue.
  • Suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts require immediate intervention. Call or text 988 to talk to a counselor any time of day or night, or call 911 for immediate assistance when someone is threatening suicide.
  • The person refuses to get help on their own. When a person refuses treatment, and their addiction or mental disorder is affecting all aspects of their life, it’s time to schedule an intervention.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Plan an Intervention

Planning a successful intervention takes time. The individual may not agree that they need help for their addictive behaviors, so you can’t confront them and insist they seek treatment to overcome addiction. Instead, you should create a plan to deal with a loved one’s objections. Your intervention process should include the advice of an expert, such as a psychologist, social worker or counselor skilled in handling substance abuse addiction and mental health disorders. The team can include friends and family concerned about the individual’s well-being and those willing to participate actively in the intervention.

Once you’ve assembled the team, choose the right time and place to stage the intervention meeting, which should be a neutral location in a supportive environment. Create an outline of how the process will work and what everyone will say to the person struggling as a means of encouragement. Decide ahead of time on the desired outcome and establish boundaries.

Educating and Preparing the Team

Before the meeting, team members should learn more about the person’s addiction. Whether it’s completing research on mental health issues or understanding how addiction works, this step is important if you want to be sensitive and approach the person in a loving and caring manner.

Educate the team on the proper way to communicate during the meeting. This includes using “I” statements to express feelings and observations without placing blame or expressing criticism and using active listening techniques. Communication training should also include strategies for managing emotions and fighting the urge to react defensively. All team members must agree to talk openly and encourage the person to seek help without bringing up negative emotions or instances where the person caused harm.

The Role of a Professional Interventionist

A professional interventionist can be very helpful during an intervention by assisting in selecting the intervention team, developing the strategy, setting goals, and providing support and expertise throughout the process. They serve as a neutral party by helping keep emotions in check, keeping everyone calm, defusing negative reactions, and maintaining a constructive atmosphere throughout the meeting.

Aside from offering emotional support to both loved ones and the individual struggling with addiction, the interventionist also helps with the aftercare planning process, including family therapy and long-term recovery.

Camelback Recovery provides experienced, caring professionals trained in addiction counseling and intervention. We work closely with families to teach them how to plan an intervention, including involving family members, friends, and loved ones throughout the recovery process.

The center has helped many individuals get their lives back and overcome their addictions, as evidenced by the number of testimonials about the success of Camelback Recovery’s treatment process.

Conducting the Intervention

It’s important to prepare for anything during an intervention, including dealing with strong emotions, outbursts, hurt feelings, and conflicts between all participants. The person may feel cornered, be resistant to intervention, and deny the severity of their addiction or mental health issues. Allow the person to speak freely and express their feelings and emotions while providing support.

Encourage all team members to stay calm and pay close attention to what’s being said without interrupting. If an argument starts, set boundaries and avoid arguing back. It’s okay to step outside for a few minutes to take a deep breath and calm down.

Provide support to the individual by acknowledging their feelings. Let them know they’re loved and cared for. Offer solid support examples, such as childcare during drug and alcohol treatment or assisting with daily tasks, such as taking care of their animals or watering their plants while they’re away. Make sure the person understands that recovery is a process and they have loved ones and an extensive support network to help them through the positive change.

Post-Intervention Steps

There are three possible outcomes of an intervention.

  • Acceptance. If the person agrees to accept treatment during a successful intervention, immediately provide transportation to a treatment center or schedule an appointment with a mental health professional. Assure the individual they’ll have continued support and encouragement throughout their treatment plan.
  • Resistance. If the individual denies the severity of their condition, remain calm and empathetic. Express concern, offer support, and explain the impact of their decision against getting help. Provide resources and information and encourage them to get help when ready.
  • Aggression. If a person responds aggressively to help, take steps to keep the intervention team safe. Discontinue the rest of the meeting and agree to meet later when emotions have cooled down. Ensure the individual understands the purpose of the intervention is to express love and concern.

At Camelback Recovery, post-intervention care includes supporting your loved one’s addiction throughout recovery with an addiction professional. This includes helping the person transition back into their regular life and creating achievable goals, providing support groups, and teaching relapse prevention strategies. Family members may also receive help through support groups, therapy sessions, and workshops.

Family and friends gathered in a circle, having a serious discussion during an intervention to support a loved one.

Contact Camelback Recovery to Plan an Intervention for a Loved One

If you have a loved one who needs help for a mental health disorder or substance abuse and are looking for intervention services in Phoenix, AZ, contact our team of professionals at Camelback Recovery. We can help explain how to intervene for a family member effectively.