Mental Health/How to Write an Intervention Letter

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Addiction is one of the main public health issues of our time, and a major reason for that is that people who suffer from addiction often don’t feel like they actually need help. This is one of the primary reasons that people avoid rehab; they feel like it’s a waste of time. However, if a loved one of yours is struggling with addiction, it is critical that you don’t give up on them and push them to get the help that they need. This is where interventions come in.

When you decide to stage an intervention for a loved one concerning their addiction, you need to do your best to get things right the first time, because you may not get another chance. Emotions will be running high during an intervention, but it’s important for everyone present to come with a plan, to say the things that will be helpful for their loved one, and to keep everything under control and on-topic. 

Writing an intervention letter you can read aloud will help you to keep your thoughts focused and help you convey the feelings that will be most beneficial for the addict to hear. The most effective intervention letters will include the following components:

Use a Loving Tone

Criticizing an addict or trying to blame them for their behavior is not only ineffective, but it can also throw off your whole intervention. The purpose of the intervention is not to air grievances, it’s to let an addict know that you love them, that you support them, and that it’s time for them to get better. All of your thoughts and statements should be delivered in a loving tone, leaving anger and blame out of the equation. 

Be Objective About the Facts

During an intervention, an addict is very likely going to disagree with every reason you give for why they should go to rehab. This big change is a scary one, and they’re probably not going to receive it easily. In order to avoid arguments and stick to the subject, try to use factual examples of problems that have occurred as a direct result of addiction. Legal troubles like DUIs, damaged relationships with loved ones, and financial struggles are all situations that are difficult to get around without owning up to a substance abuse problem. 

Focus on “I” Statements

An addict is always in the habit of not taking care of themselves by the time an intervention becomes necessary, so appealing to them to make their own life better might not be the most effective approach. Also, pointing out their mistakes and shortcomings will only put them on the defensive, making it difficult to have a loving conversation. 

Instead, focus your intervention letter on the way your loved one’s substance abuse issues have affected you personally. Express your concern, what you’ve been missing about them, and how you’ve been hurt. Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements will help keep the conversation moving in the right direction.

Bring Up Solutions and Ultimatums

The whole purpose of an intervention is to offer treatment to an addict and to get them going on it as soon as possible. Each intervention letter read by a member of the group needs to state clearly that this is the hope of the reader- that their loved one will accept help for their problem. The best way to reinforce the importance of this offer is to outline specific consequences that will follow if the addict refuses to get help. 

It may feel unnatural to threaten your loved one with an ultimatum, but tough love is usually needed at this point if the addict is going to get better. Decide what the consequences of refusal would be on your end, let your loved one know clearly what they are, and then follow through with them until he or she decides to get help. 



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