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intervention for your adult child

How to Hold an Intervention for Your Adult Child

As a parent, you’ve spent at least 18 years raising your child. You’ve taught them how to dress themselves, how to tie their shoes, how to walk, and how to talk. You have helped prepare them for adulthood. Even as they become adults, and perhaps well into their adulthood years, you continue to have concerns about how they are living their life. When their behavior becomes concerning or even dangerous, it’s important to know how to hold an intervention for your adult child.

Heightened Risks for Emerging Adults

The early adult years are considered a time of heightened risk. Substance use and abuse peaks at around age 21 or 22. This includes drug use and binge drinking, serious mental health issues, and eating disorders. As a parent with a child in their early 20s, you may be challenged with being able to let go and let your son or daughter move into adulthood on their own. When you recognize that these issues are becoming prevalent and are creating serious problems, it may be time to step back in for their health and safety.

Jennifer Tanner of Rutgers University advises that you can “start by recognizing that you can’t fix the problem by yourself. If it’s a serious mental health issue, it’s going to require professional intervention.” The best thing you can do at this point in your adult child’s life is to try to provide a bridge between them and someone who has the knowledge and training to help them. “Try to see your role as parent as a service connector between your young adult and a professional,” adds Tanner. “That’s how you can be most helpful.”

Time for an Intervention

It is understandably difficult to try to determine, as a parent, when you need to let your child make their own mistakes as an adult and when you need to continue to try to guide them in making the appropriate choices for their life. While you cannot swoop in and fix the problems in your adult child’s life, like you did when they were a small child, if their choices are causing serious physical or mental issues for themselves or for others in their life, it may be time for an intervention.

Start with a Plan

An intervention for your adult child can seem confrontational, even with the best of intentions and plans. Starting with a plan can help improve your chances of success, though. That planning should start with contacting an intervention professional who can help guide you through the process.

Once you determine who should be involved in the intervention, have the members of the group learn as much as they can about the situation your adult child is facing. For example, if your child is addicted to opioids, the people who will participate in the intervention should research information about opioids and about the effects of addiction. You should also prepare by identifying and making the initial arrangements for a treatment program that would be appropriate for your son or daughter.

Arrange the Logistics for Your Adult Child

With the help of the intervention professional, determine the best place and time to hold the meeting. Your adult child should not know about these plans until it is time for him or her to participate. Work together to be sure you present a consistent message and a structure plan for the intervention and any consequences that may come out of it.

Stay Firm with Your Adult Child

You cannot force your adult child to get the help you think they need. However, you can present consequences that will result if your intervention plan is not followed. For example, if your adult child still lives with you and continues to abuse drugs or alcohol, the consequence of not following up with the treatment program presented in the intervention could be that he or she will need to move out on their own.

You can no longer fix their problems for them, but you can offer your continued support if they take the steps they need to take to get help for their addiction or mental health issue. You can offer to participate in counseling with them and support them through their own treatment, encouraging them to stay focused on their recovery.

Contact a Professional Intervention Provider for Help

At Whitman Recovery Service, our experienced intervention experts will help you hold an intervention for your adult child, guiding your family through the process of getting your loved one back on the right track. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we also provide telehealth services for your health and safety. Please call (210) 291-0278 if you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction or mental illness. Our team has the expertise to help your family begin the journey of recovery.



Whitman Recovery Service is a Telehealth provider for addiction and mental health guidance. Please call (210) 291-0278
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