What to Do When an Intervention Fails

| December 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

Interventions are a common tool used to help motivate loved ones to seek the help they need, be it for a substance addiction, compulsive eating, or some other form of addictive behavior.

People most often choose to have one when they recognize that a loved one has a problem but is in denial—and therefore unwilling to seek the help that they need.

In a typical intervention, family and friends of the loved one (and perhaps co-workers, clergy members, etc. as well) will gather together to confront someone about their destructive behaviors, offering specific examples of how those behaviors have affected others.

Family and friends will then introduce a prearranged treatment plan that includes clear steps, goals, and guidelines. In addition, friends and family members may each spell out what they will do if their loved one does not seek the treatment they need.

Overall, interventions can be (and often are) effective at motivating loved ones to get the help they need for destructive behaviors. Sometimes despite our best efforts, however, loved ones do not make the choices that their friends and family wish them to, instead withdrawing further and further into their destructive behaviors.

What if the Intervention Fails?

Jul 5, 2016 … nothing more can or will. This article offers some helpful tips for what to do if or when an intervention fails and a loved one refuses treatment.


What then? Do we wait for them to hit rock bottom? (As this article details, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.”)

The good news is that you still have options if your first attempt at an intervention for a loved one fails. In addition, there are alternative ways to hold an intervention for a loved one who does not respond well to the traditional intervention format, if necessary.

Here is a look at what you can do if you stage an intervention for a loved one and it does not go how you wished.

Stage another intervention.

This may not be the first thing you want to hear, but the first option you should consider is staging another intervention. Consider a study published by the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, which found that people who were confronted about their addictions were more likely to stay sober than those who were not.

This is most definitely true, but the study does not point out how many times a person needed to be confronted in order to undergo real change. While many people do respond to that first intervention, a great many others need a second or even third intervention in order to change.

In short, chances are there are things you can improve upon after staging that first intervention, and it is well worth the effort to try for a second one. And that leads us to our second point…

Get professional help.

Many people who are holding an intervention for the first time do not consider the option of getting professional help. But since interventions can be highly charged situations that stir up a wide variety of emotions, seeking the help of a professional can truly be a life-changing move.

Many professionals—such as a psychologist, qualified professional counselor, mental health counselor, addiction specialist, social worker, or interventionist—can offer useful advice for staging an intervention.

Moreover, you might even ask an intervention professional to come and assist at your intervention. A professional can help keep communication between parties moving, help a loved one recognize patterns of denial, help diffuse tension, etc.

Try the CRAFT method.

The CRAFT—Community Reinforcement and Family Training—method involves using healthy rewards rather than confrontation to encourage positive behaviors. Its primary goal is to reduce relationship conflict, and it involves using positive reinforcement for positive behaviors to address a person’s resistance to change.

What Is an Intervention?

When an Intervention Fails. Making and breaking promises to seek help “soon”; Promising to enter rehab if he is provided with money or a place to stay “for a …


Friends and family members who try the CRAFT method will learn positive communication strategies, positive reinforcement strategies, problem solving, self-care, domestic violence precautions, how to understand a loved one’s triggers for substance abuse, and more.

For some individuals who exhibit destructive behaviors and who have rejected past intervention attempts, this approach may very well be more effective. The easiest way to try this method is to read the book about it called Get Your Loved One Sober.

Try family therapy first.

If your loved one will not respond to a traditional intervention, then maybe he or she will be open to family therapy. In family therapy, you and your loved one, as guided by a professional, can discuss the addiction, how addiction has affected family relationships, and how to improve these relationships.

Family therapy can offer the safe environment you need to encourage your loved one to seek treatment, and ultimately it can be where your loved one recognizes how harmful addiction truly can be.


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