How to Write an Intervention Letter for Your Loved One
Last Updated on September 27, 2021
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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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Intervention Letter Examples
If you’re ready to write your own intervention letter, using a template may help you stick to the guidelines listed above and avoid becoming overly emotional as you write. Approaching a loved one about a substance abuse problem can be hard, but following a template can help you feel more confident in your ability to communicate your thoughts clearly. Here are three sample intervention letters you can use as inspiration for your own letter.
SAMPLE INTERVENTION LETTER #1:
You are an incredible person and an amazing sister. Growing up, we always had the best times and you taught me so much about life and love. I can’t imagine life without you and my daughter is so lucky to have you as her aunt.
Over the past decade, I feel like I’ve lost the Stacie I once knew. It’s difficult to talk with you because you usually slur your words and have a hard time comprehending when you’re drinking. We haven’t had a chance to get together and catch up because you head to the bar right after work.
I don’t want to lose you but I fear the worst. I miss my sister. I had hoped that you would be at the hospital with me when my daughter was born, but you were inebriated when I called to let you know I was in labor. Now, seven years old, my daughter asks me why she can’t go to Aunt Stacie’s house and I don’t know how to tell her that I don’t trust you to care for her while you’re drunk.
I wish things were the way they used to be between us, but it’s difficult to spend time with you when you’re almost always drinking. Of course, I will respect your decision if you continue to drink the way you have been over the last ten years. However, if you choose not to enter treatment, I will not continue to let you use my car, loan you money, or bring my daughter over to visit with you.
No matter what, I will always love you, Stacie. You are my sister and nothing will ever change that. It’s so hurtful to watch you destroy your life and I want to see you happy and healthy. Please get the help you need to stop drinking before it’s too late.
SAMPLE INTERVENTION LETTER #2:
I appreciate your willingness to hear me out today. I’m worried about you and about your drug and alcohol use and it’s time for you to get some help.
Before you started getting high and drinking all the time, you were my best friend. I felt like I could tell you anything and you were always there to comfort me, support me, and guide me. You were super dad and there was nothing you couldn’t do. But now, I hardly recognize you anymore.
You’re always recovering from getting drunk or arguing with mom about your drug use. You spent all my college fund money on alcohol and drugs and now I’m not sure how I’m going to pay for school in the fall. You seem really sad, you’ve had a few health scares, and I’m worried that soon you’ll end up in the hospital or dead.
I don’t want to lose you, dad. You’ve talked about going to rehab several times before, but I really hope you choose to get the help you need today. Your addiction is not your fault. It’s a disease and it has changed your thoughts, your actions, and your personality. But you don’t have to let it win. You can beat it with the right support and treatment.
Whatever you decide to do today, I want you to know that I love you and always will. However, I also recognize that I can’t keep lying to mom to cover for you. Whether you choose to go to treatment today or not, I will not keep covering for you. If you do choose to go to rehab, please know that I will always be here to support and encourage you, just like you used to do for me.
SAMPLE INTERVENTION LETTER #3:
You have always been a great friend to me. I still remember back when I was the “new kid” in class and felt very alone and nervous. You didn’t even hesitate to walk right over, introduce yourself, and invite me to eat lunch with you. You were always there for me when I needed a friend and I’ve never met anyone as loyal and genuine as you are.
Recently though, I feel like I’ve lost my best friend and I’m heartbroken about it. I called you last week to tell you that I got engaged, but you didn’t answer your phone. You rarely do these days. I can’t even remember the last time we hung out because you’ve been too high to function.
I don’t know how to continue this friendship without you here with me. Last time I invited you to go to the Astros game with me, you didn’t show up because you were at home getting high. I wanted to ask you to be my best man, but my fiancée doesn’t even want you there because she’s worried you’ll bring drugs or be high during the ceremony.
I feel like I’m losing you and I’m worried about your health. Addiction is a chronic disease and although it’s not your fault, it will continue to wreak havoc on your life until you get help. I know you can get better and I’ll be here to support you, along with everyone else who loves you.
I know you say you don’t need help, but I hope that you choose to accept it today and enroll in a rehab program. Ultimately, I respect your decision and will continue to love you regardless. However, I can no longer loan you money, give you rides, or cover for you when you miss work. I don’t want to contribute to your addiction any longer. Please choose to accept help and overcome your addiction. I miss you, friend.
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.