what does intervention mean

What Does Intervention Mean?

If you have become concerned about a family member’s behavior, your first thought might be to confront them directly. That can backfire, though, as the individual may feel threatened and retreat even further into their dangerous activities. Sometimes the concern is about the way your loved one is living or the way they are obsessing over their work. Often you will notice the signs and symptoms of substance abuse or a mental health issue. An intervention can help you be more successful in your attempts to help your family member. What does intervention mean?

Concerning Behaviors Affect Everyone

An addiction or a mental illness does not just affect the individual. Your loved one’s behavior also affects everyone around them, including and especially your family. You may also be one of the first to notice that something is going on. You want to do something to help but you’re unsure where to start. You want to intervene in your loved one’s negative and sometimes dangerous actions. Intervening means you come between them and what they are doing in an effort to prevent more serious consequences.

Intervening in an Organized Way

You may have heard the term “intervention” and wondered what intervention means. It can be confusing as many healthcare professionals use it to refer to the approaches they use to treat addiction or other medical issues. An intervention for your family member, though, is essentially an organized way to try to help your loved one with recognizing and seeking treatment for their addiction or mental health issues.

In an organized intervention, you will gather together a group of people who are closely connected to the individual, which could be friends and family members, to shed light on that person’s serious problem. Your group will develop a plan to effectively address the individual’s behavior and the underlying causes related to that behavior. The intervention enables everyone in the group to let the individual know how their use of drugs or alcohol or their mental health concerns are affecting everyone else in the group.

Why Hold an Intervention?

When you notice that your friend or loved one exhibits behaviors that indicate an addiction or a mental health issue, you may want to hold an intervention for that person. An intervention should be carefully planned and never conducted on the spur of the moment. The most effective sessions are developed and led by a professional who knows how to plan and conduct an effective meeting.

Many people who struggle with issues around substance use or mental health tend to be in denial about their situation. They do not recognize that they have a problem and so are unwilling to seek help on their own. They probably don’t see that their issues are negatively affecting those around them as well.

Holding an intervention gives those who care about this individual a structured and supervised opportunity to show that person exactly what they are doing and how it is impacting everyone. You can use this opportunity to explain how they can seek treatment, having researched those options prior to the session.

During the intervention, you will explain to your loved one the consequences of their actions. You can use this time to provide specific examples of their destructive behavior and, in a straightforward manner, describe their impact on your life as well as their own. Be prepared with options for a treatment plan as well as specific consequences for what you will do if your loved one does not follow through with getting the help they need.

Intervention Goals

Planning and structure are key in a successful intervention. When you and your family or friends come together for an intervention, you will need to focus on certain goals, including:

  • Making your loved one aware of their behavior, the devastating effects of their issues, and the impact their behavior has on their friends and family members.
  • Motivating the individual to see that they have a problem and need to get help.
  • Developing an action plan that will become their strategy for recovery, including consequences of not following through with treatment.


At Whitman Recovery Service, our experienced intervention experts will help you plan a family intervention for your loved one, guiding your family through the process of getting them 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.