• The Biggest Intervention Mistake

The Biggest Intervention Mistake

…and what to do about it.

Almost every week, I get a call from a family who is about to make a terrible mistake. They will almost guarantee failure in their attempt to get their loved one into treatment. I can only imagine how many families don’t call, and fall into this critical error.

The call comes in on Friday afternoon, and it goes something like this:

“We’re going to do an intervention on my brother Phil tomorrow. Do you have any tips for us?”

I ask what their plan is.

“Well, we’re just going over to his house and we’re going to confront him. He’s been really angry lately, and he’s been terrible to his wife and kids.”

I tell them I understand, but I ask again if they have an actual plan or if they’re following some method for the intervention.

–Jeff Jay

“Not really. We’re just going to tell him he has to go.” Then they pause. “So, do you have any tips for us?”

“Yes,” I say. “Don’t do it.”


“Planning and preparation are the keys to a good intervention,” I say. “Without careful planning, without well-written letters, without rehearsal, and without all the details, you’re bound to fail. Don’t do it.”


“Really. Take a step back. Take the focus off the alcoholic and put it on yourselves. Then take the time to do it right.”


“You don’t necessarily have to hire a professional interventionist, like one of our people, to do a good, structured family intervention. Many families just read the book Love First and follow the directions. You don’t even have to buy it, because you can get it from the library.”


“The book will walk you step-by-step through the planning and preparation. There’s a lot to think about. You can still do it fairly quickly, but you have to be prepared for anything. Like, what are we going to do if he walks out?”

“Right. What do we do if he walks out?”

“There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. You’ll read how to figure that out in the book. You can also listen to our Intervention Workshop podcasts. We’ve put four hours of free information right here on the website.”

“Really? That’s great.”

“If you’d like to work with a professional, even to have a one-hour consultation, you’ll learn a lot. We have a lot of ways we can help you.”

I’ve probably stopped a few hundred bad interventions from happening, over the years. Some people hire a professional, some read the book and follow the directions. The point is: they take the time to do it right. A family intervention isn’t something you can do by watching a TV show.

Don’t make the big mistake. Reach out and get some help. After all, isn’t that what you want your loved one to do?

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