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Making Your Intervention Letter Hit Home



One of the most difficult and poignant parts of an addiction intervention is to put the words down on paper.

Let’s take a look at what an intervention letter is, why it is important, and then spend more time on just how to write a good one.

An intervention is a confrontation between a caring friends/family/co-workers and a person that has an addiction. This addiction can be to drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating (or not eating), sex, or many other things.

Formal interventions are arranged ahead of time, either with or without the help of a professional counselor or interventionist.

The goal of the intervention is clear and simple

Get the addict to agree to professional addiction treatment.

When you deeply care, it can be emotionally difficult to share specifically why you feel that your loved one needs substance abuse intervention or treatment for another kind of addiction.  Often if you try to do this off-the-cuff, you may be overwhelmed with anger, and what you actually want to say is lost in tears or silence. Because this isn’t easy, a key part of the confrontation plan is to write an intervention letter ahead of time.

During the intervention, each person will read their letter, and share their feelings and thoughts in a more focused and controlled way.  The letter will include specific ways that the person with the addiction has hurt those around them.

Reading an intervention letter helps a person share what needs to be said without the actual confrontation falling into an emotional and verbal free-for-all.  The more well-planned each part of the intervention is, the better chance that it will make a positive impact on the person who desperately needs help.

Be ready, because sitting down to write an intervention letter is going to hurt.  You may cry, you may become angry, and you more than likely will do both.  That’s okay. Find a quiet place, and make sure you have some uninterrupted time to write your intervention letter.

Try to follow these steps when you write your letter:

  1. Think about some of the happiest memories you have of your loved one before they became addicted.  Write down several.  If you can’t think of any at all, this is significant, so write this down.  This is a good time to include loving memories and mention them.  You can also mention some of your loved one’s best qualities and past accomplishments.
  2. Do the same thing with your unhappiest or more difficult memories. You may have more of these than you can write down, so just choose a few of the ones that are most important (or painful) to you.  These memories will more than likely be very closely related to how their addiction has affected you emotionally, physically, and financially.
  3. Write down your worst fears for the future.  This may be your fear that your loved one’s addiction will ultimately kill them.  Or it may be that because of your addicted loved one’s behavior, you may have to leave or stop supporting them financially.
  4. Finally, write down your vision for the best future that you can imagine for your loved one once they are in recovery from their addiction.  This vision can include both your hope for them as an individual and as a friend, family member, or co-worker.

After you have these things jotted down, choose one or two from each section.  Now you can begin to write your intervention letter.  The guide for each sentence is to be loving but absolutely honest, even if the words will be very painful for those hearing them.

Close your letter by saying that you will be there to help them in every way possible if they agree to enter an addiction treatment program, but you won’t help them continue to hurt themselves.