Writing an Intervention Letter - Sample Intervention Letter

Writing an intervention letter can be emotionally challenging and is often one of the most difficult parts of the process. Here is a worksheet to help you construct an effective and well-written letter:

Carefully choosing the words in your intervention letter is critical. Here are some tips on how to get your point across to the individual without sounding judgmental or offending him/her.

Tips for Sounding Non-Judgmental:

  • Use sentences that start with “I.” For example, instead of saying, “You worry me when you don’t come home at night,” say, “I worry when you’re out so late.” This removes the blame from your tone.
  • Stay away from calling the individual an “addict,” “junkie,” “alcoholic” or other label.
  • Avoid generalizations such as “You always miss work because you’re high.” Instead, use specific examples such as “Last week, you missed work on Tuesday and Friday because you were high.” These will make the allegations hard to deny and your intervention more effective.
  • Use words that describe how you feel without expressing blame or judgment such as: angry, concerned, confused, discouraged, frustrated, helpless, hurt, lonely, or worried. Again, use I statements, rather than “you make me feel…”

Section I. Care and Concern

This is where you try to remind the person of what his or her life was like before drugs and alcohol. At the same time, emphasize that you love and care about the individual. Ask for his or her full attention and tell him or her that you are speaking sincerely and from the heart.

Start your letter with: “(Person’s name), I am here today because I love and care about you. This is why I want you to seek treatment for your drug/alcohol abuse.”

What are some nice memories you have of the person? Please be as specific as possible, using personal stories or examples.

__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

What is something fun you used to do together?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

What were some of the person’s hobbies before his or her addiction started?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Are there any notable things that the person accomplished in the past?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Section II. Alcohol and Drug Use

This is where you cite changes in the person’s behavior since he or she started abusing alcohol or drugs. Remember not to blame or judge the addiction or addicted individual while you discuss the negative effects of his or her use.
What have been some negative effects of drug or alcohol abuse on the person’s life? Has he or she experienced any serious consequences? Use specific stories and examples when possible.
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

How has his or her use affected you

Physically?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Mentally?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
       
Financially?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

What are you concerned will happen if the addiction continues?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Section III. Closing Statements

In the last part of your letter, you should repeat how much you care about the person and how concerned you are about his or her health. The intervention team should have treatment and transportation pre-arranged and you should be ready to explain why the person should seek treatment, as well as answer questions he or she may have. At the end of your letter, request that the person enter treatment immediately (today).

How do you think the person will benefit from treatment?

__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________


Where and when are you sending him or her to treatment? How is he or she getting there?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Finish this section by saying: “Will you take the treatment that is being offered to you today?”

IV. Bottom Lines
If a person does not agree to seek treatment after you finish reading the first three sections of your letter, you should proceed to your bottom lines. These are actions that show you are ready to stop enabling the person’s addiction and start helping.

Very important: Only read your bottom lines if the person refuses treatment. If your loved one has already agreed to go to treatment, there is no need to introduce the stress of ultimatums. In addition, these should be actions that you will follow through with without wavering or compromising. The effectiveness of bottom lines lies in their strong enforcement, which often leads to your loved one accepting treatment.

Note: You must be prepared to enforce your bottom lines immediately. Thus, they should be carefully considered based on their feasibility and practicality for you personally. Consulting with a professional is strongly suggested when determining bottom lines, because what may work in one situation may cause great harm in another.

What is something specific you have been doing to enable the person’s use?

What are you willing to do to completely stop this behavior?

1)________________________________

____________________________________

2)________________________________

____________________________________

3)________________________________

____________________________________


Now, phrase your bottom lines here:

1) If you don’t seek treatment, I will ______________________________________.
2) If you don’t seek treatment, I will ______________________________________.
3) If you don’t seek treatment, I will ______________________________________.

When you’re finished writing, your letter should look something like the following sample:

Sample Intervention Letter

Mom,
I am here today because I love you. Throughout my life, you have supported me in everything I have wanted to do. You stood proudly in the stands during my high school soccer games, sat in the audience during my college graduation, and watched the birth of my first son, James. I always admired your sunny outlook on life and love of helping people.

Over the last decade, your involvement with building houses every weekend for those less fortunate than you has been inspiring. It caused the whole family to go build with you when it fit into our schedules, providing us with an opportunity to become closer as we did something good for others together. I miss doing this with you.

Mom, your drinking has become a problem that you cannot control on your own. It is affecting your relationship with the whole family and me. Friday night, when James, Mike and I came over for dinner, you smelled like alcohol when you answered the door. You drank an entire bottle of wine while we ate, and you kept sneaking back to the kitchen to refill your glass while we watched a movie afterwards. By the end of the evening, you had mixed up all of our names.

When I arrived to pick you up on Saturday morning, you were still in your pajamas and too drunk to join me at the building event. I know that you have been proud of your work building the houses. But even that has taken a back seat to alcohol. You missed last weekend, and that was not the first time. How many more building sessions will you miss? Before alcohol took over, building used to be one of your favorite activities. Taking time to get healthy now will give you the chance to build more houses from start to finish. There doesn’t have to be any more missed weekends because you were too drunk to leave the house. Just think, you will not have to make any more excuses because alcohol has stopped you from being at your committee meetings and charity events. 

It pains me to tell you that James has asked me if he can stop visiting your house after school. He is saddened when you are drunk when he arrives and feels unsafe ever since you passed out with the oven on, causing dinner to start smoking and the fire alarms to go off. We feel like we have lost a family member and companion, as alcohol has changed you. We are afraid that we may never get you back if you don’t seek treatment. We are not mad, we just want what is best for you and that is seeking treatment today.

We have reserved you a spot at a treatment center. They are expecting you tonight. It is not far from here, and Mike has agreed to drive you. I have already packed a suitcase for you; it is waiting in the car. And, you don’t have to worry about finances, the treatment facility has contacted the insurance company and arrangements have been made. All you have to focus on is getting well.

You won’t have to worry about the house, the dogs, or Dad. Dad is perfectly capable of taking care of the dogs and the housework on his own and we will all come by to help with everything. Your drinking doesn’t have to go on any longer, help is waiting for you. Please, will you take the treatment that is being offered to you today?

Love,
Amanda

This page last updated: September 19, 2013

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