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woman writes an intervention letter

An addiction intervention is a planned, face-to-face meeting with a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse and is in need of addiction treatment.1 In most cases, if an intervention is necessary, the individual is either in denial about their addiction or has been unresponsive to loved ones’ previous attempts to get them into drug rehab.

It’s not uncommon for people to be unaware of their addiction or resistant to the idea of long-term rehab, so many families face the challenge of getting a loved one into treatment. In many of these cases, an addiction intervention is necessary.

To prepare for the meeting, families may decide to enlist the help of a professional interventionist who is trained to plan and host addiction interventions. If your family chooses to go this route, you may be asked to write an intervention letter.

What Is an Intervention Letter?

An intervention letter is basically a written conversation. Think of it as the written form of everything you want to express to your loved one to convince them that they need addiction treatment.

Interventions can be very intense and emotional and you may be harboring a lot of anger, frustration, sadness, or guilt regarding your loved one’s addiction. As a result, sometimes unscripted dialogue in an addiction intervention can do more harm than good.

Tightly scripted interventions are typically the most successful kind. It’s easy to get sidetracked with even just the slightest hint of blame or anger during an intervention, so letters are a great tool for keeping participants on track.2 Writing an intervention letter can also be a great way for you to think about, read, and rehearse what you will say to your loved one in advance.

5 Qualities of a Great Intervention Letter

You don’t have to be an amazing writer to write an effective intervention letter that resonates with your loved one. Before you sit down to write, just take note of these five essential components that will help you create a compassionate letter that conveys a potentially life-changing message.3

  1. Use loving and compassionate words – It is essential that you write (and speak) in a loving and compassionate way. When you do this, you convey the message that your primary concern is the health and well-being of your loved one and that you only want to see them get better. You may also use this as an opportunity to express your gratitude for their friendship or companionship in your life. Just make it clear that your intention is not to judge or blame them.
  2. Express the fact that addiction is a medical condition – Communicate the fact that addiction is not a result of personal or moral failures, rather, it is a medical condition that requires professional assistance and behavioral therapy to overcome.
  3. Help the addict understand how their addiction has affected those around them – One of the most important aspects of an intervention is to help the addict see how their addiction has affected the people they love. Often times people can’t see or refuse to see how their actions are hurting their spouse, children, siblings, parents, or friends. Communicating these effects in a clear and concise way may open the addict’s eyes to the things he or she previously refused to see.
  4. Offer treatment – Make the decision easy for your loved one by providing a viable option (or a few options) for drug rehab. Presenting them with a specific program may help make the decision easier and reduce the stress associated with researching treatment options.
  5. Clearly define the consequences if treatment is refused – It’s very important to lay out specific consequences and boundaries you will draw if your loved one refuses to accept treatment. An example could be, “If you do not get help for your addiction, I will not continue to give you money for your rent.”

Writing an intervention letter isn’t always easy, but if you strive to achieve these five things in your letter, your loved one may be more inclined to listen and the addiction intervention may be more successful.

Writing Your Intervention Letter

Getting your letter started is the hardest part. It may be less overwhelming to list out the numbers one through five on a piece of paper and individually address each of the listed things above. Then, once you’re done, you can piece them together into a letter that flows smoothly and briefly touches on each thing you want to cover.

If you are struggling to write your intervention letter, consider asking a family member or your professional interventionist for help. You may also want to have a loved one or your interventionist review your letter with you before the intervention begins. Getting a second opinion is a great way to ensure your tone and the words you use are appropriate for the situation.

An intervention can be a tricky, delicate, and emotional thing, but it can also be a very useful tool to get a loved one into a drug and alcohol rehab program. Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about our long-term rehab program or for professional assistance getting a loved one into treatment.



  1. https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/intervention-tips-and-guidelines
  2. http://lovefirst.net/4-writing-the-letters/
  3. https://www.choosehelp.com/topics/intervention/the-intervention-letter
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