Addiction recovery is nothing short of a journey and it typically serves everyone differently. When someone you love is struggling with addiction, you’re probably trying to figure out what your first move is. It is often hard to start the conversation, so a usual first step to nudging them towards the road to recovery is to set up a drug and alcohol intervention for them.

The purpose of this intervention is to coerce them into agreeing they have a problem. It is important to convince them that they have a problem, which is affecting their life – and that they need treatment.  Planning and conducting a successful intervention may seem like a simple thing to do and it is even portrayed as an easy feat in the movies. After all, you only have to gather a bunch of friends and family in a room and bring in the addict and confront them, right?

The reality is much harsher than that and it may be a bit more challenging than what meets the eye. Oftentimes, things do not go as planned despite the family staging the “perfect” intervention. Those cases, more often than not, are done without the inclusion and guidance of a trained professional interventionist. The key is to plan an intervention carefully and know what can go wrong and try to avoid it while continually encouraging your loved one to get professional help.

Having said that, let us now discover the common reasons why interventions fail.

1. Enabling or Helping the Addict in Some Way

It is not uncommon for family members to ‘let’ the addict have things his way just to protect them from going to jail or to keep them from leaving the house. This is one of the reasons for interventions not working out and an addict simply refusing to enter treatment.

Understanding that the addict will never stop unless they face major consequences of their addiction is imperative. No drug or alcohol addict will stop until they absolutely have to! Thus, tough love is the key. The family needs to mark a bottom line and hold it for the sake of their loved one.

2. Lacking the Basic Education

why interventions failNot knowing what is required to conduct a successful intervention is another big reason why interventions fail. Families often just take the leap without having a proper plan in mind and get confused when things do not go their way. Being educated about the prerequisites is the way to go!

The best way to go around this is to take help from a professional. Using the same old strategies that have failed earlier is not going to teach you anything new. Hence, families and friends should consider getting in touch with a trained professional who may educate them and teach them certain tactics to not make their next effort another futile move.

3. Ignorance

Many people fail to understand addiction – what it is, how it manifests, and what consequences it may bring along. It is important for them to realize that addiction is often a result of underlying issues.

Telling the addict to get their act together and stop taking drugs is never the right way to handle such a sensitive issue. Intervention is the time to show empathy while still conveying your message efficiently.

4. Letting the Secret Out

Many times, families and friends do not realize that the news of an intervention has reached the addict’s ears. If the addict finds out about the intervention beforehand, there is every chance of them not showing up or at least working on their excuses to get their way out.


The timing of intervention also plays a crucial role. Conducting an intervention before the addict has had a chance to take his first dose of drug or alcohol is not a good idea because they will likely be unfocused, confused, and even aggressive. Moreover, staging an intervention right after they have had their dose is also a big NO, as their cognitive ability may be impaired.

6. Plan Everything Ahead

Another reason why interventions fail is that families focus too much on the intervention itself and do not plan the post-intervention part. This simply gives an addict who has agreed to get treatment the time to think of reasons they should not go.

The best way to make sure a successful intervention turns into a successful recovery journey for the addict is to make sure you pack their bags and choose the treatment center well ahead of time. Setting up the next step and walking with them directly in to it has a better chance of working than confronting with no support on what to do next.

7. Not Being on the Same Page

Friends and families need to understand that an intervention is a group effort and everyone who is a part of it should be prepared. It is also important to note here that an untrained family member who is emotionally attached to the addict should not be a part of the intervention, as they may be biased and weaken in the process. In general, addicts are excellent manipulators and can often make you change your stance. Therefore, it is essential that the whole intervention group is well coordinated and on the same page throughout.

8. Allowing Negotiation

Intervention requires the interventionists to stand their ground no matter what and to not waiver in the words, expectations, and ultimatums they are making.  Even if one of the interventionists deviate from the plan and enable negotiation, the addict will most likely use that to their advantage.

9. Violent or Aggressive Behavior of the Addict

Sometimes, the addict may get aggravated and combative upon confrontation. An intervention may make them feel threatened or judged, particularly because it is a situation of one against a whole group. As a result, they may get defensive and perhaps act on those emotions as well. Of course, when a circumstance like this arises, the intervention should be stopped immediately to ensure the safety of all.

Getting the service of a professional interventionist might be the best bet to minimize this possibility from arising.

10. Refusal to Treatment

Even if the intervention goes well, everyone does a good job, and the addict listens and participates actively, they may still say no to rehab treatment at the end.

If this happens, it is best to neither argue nor compromise. Planning the next intervention may be the next step to consider following through on your promises.

If any of your loved ones are going through addiction and you want to stage a successful intervention to help them begin their journey of sobriety, you can get in touch with a professional at the Scottsdale Recovery Center.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.