How to Write an Intervention Letter

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To fully grasp how to write an intervention letter for an alcoholic or drug addict, you should familiarize yourself with the overall intervention process.

What is an Intervention?

The friends and family members of an individual with a substance use disorder may stage an intervention during which the goal is to connect the person with appropriate addiction treatment – typically inpatient or outpatient rehab. The person who is abusing alcohol or drugs is not aware of the plan. 

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After planning an intervention, the group will meet, inviting the person with an addiction to engage with a suitable treatment program. 

If the intervention is successful, the person can be promptly admitted to a drug or alcohol rehab, like our Laguna Beach rehab

An intervention letter is relevant to both the planning phase and the intervention itself. While planning the intervention, each member of the group writes a letter outlining their concerns for their loved one and making them an invitation to engage with pre-arranged treatment. Every group member will have the opportunity to read out their intervention letter on the day of intervention. 

Before you think about writing an intervention letter, why should you write one in the first place rather than speaking to your loved one naturally and without prompts? 

Why Should You Write an Intervention Letter?

An intervention is liable to be an emotional occasion. An intervention letter can serve as a point of focus, helping you to stay on track and say exactly what you mean to say instead of becoming side-tracked. 

By writing a letter in advance highlighting thoughts composed at a time when you were in a relaxed frame of mind, you will have more chance of achieving the positive and supportive tone you should strive for in your message. 

Most intervention groups will hold several rehearsals in the lead-up to the meeting. As you read your letter aloud, you can get potentially useful feedback from others in the group. All group members should write a letter in which both content and tone are aligned with the goal of the intervention group.

The process of writing an intervention letter can be cathartic and therapeutic for family members suffering the consequences of active addiction. 

An image of two people supporting each other, symbolizing how to write an intervention letter

How to Write a Letter for an Intervention

Approach writing an intervention letter by relaxing and being aware that there is no single correct method of composition. Having said that, it helps to have some direction. 

Always try to remain empathetic to your loved one with an addiction, regardless of how badly their actions have impacted you. It is acceptable to share both positive and negative emotions in your intervention letter, assuming you present any negative elements without being confrontational or judgmental. 

Sharing your letter with others in the intervention group may provide welcome feedback and extra insight. 

Consider using the following framework to guide you as you compose your intervention letter to a loved one with an addiction: 

  1. Begin the letter with a statement of positive affirmation
  2. Acknowledge your loved one’s addiction
  3. Describe how your loved one’s substance abuse has harmed you using specific examples,
  4. Reaffirm your love and concern then make your loved one an invitation to accept help
  5. Highlight the consequences of your loved one refusing the invitation to seek care

1) Begin the letter with a statement of positive affirmation

Think about the relationship you enjoyed with your friend or family member before their substance use disorder developed. 

Start your letter by citing examples of how the person has helped or supported you. Praise them for their achievements. Impress upon them how much you love them and why you are pursuing this intervention: to connect them with the help they need. 

2) Acknowledge your loved one’s addiction

Many people with addictions suffer from intense shame and guilt. This can sometimes involve using denial as a coping mechanism, complicating engagement with treatment. 

Tell your loved one that you are aware addiction is a chronic brain condition rather than a moral failing or a weakness. 

Not only will approaching the intervention from a position of education and knowledge minimize guilt for your loved one, but it will also help them to understand that rehab is their optimum route to sobriety and sustained recovery. 

3) Describe how your loved one’s substance abuse has harmed you using specific examples

Use precise and tangible examples of your loved one’s substance abuse and addictive behaviors. You should underscore how you have been negatively affected. 

The goal is not to bully or threaten your loved one, but to show them the cumulative effects of their active addiction, specifically how it impacts their friends and family. 

4) Reaffirm your love and concern then make your loved one an invitation to accept help

To wrap up your intervention letter, invite the person with an addiction to get the help they need. During the planning phase, you will make arrangements with a suitable rehab center. If the intervention goes to plan, you can get your loved one directly to intake and admissions. 

5) Highlight the consequences of your loved one refusing the invitation to seek care

While an intervention is an invitation for someone to engage with treatment, you should nevertheless conclude your letter by stating that you will not continue to enable your loved one’s addiction if they refuse to engage with treatment.

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Addiction Treatment After an Intervention at California Detox

If you stage a successful intervention, consider California Detox as a springboard for your loved one’s ongoing recovery. 

We offer a full suite of addiction treatment services at our luxury Laguna Beach rehab center. 

Before your loved one engages with treatment, they can take advantage of a supervised medical detox. Our team of experienced medical professionals and addiction specialists can administer medications to streamline withdrawal and detox. Whether your loved one is addicted to alcohol, illicit narcotics, or prescription medications, a clinical detox will help them build the firmest foundation for ongoing rehab. 

At California Detox, we have treatment programs at all levels of of intensity, from virtual rehab and traditional outpatients programs to intensive outpatient programming and residential rehab. 

When your loved one completes their treatment program, they will be equipped with the coping strategies, relapse prevention techniques, and aftercare to help them make a smooth transition into sober living. 

Speak with our friendly admissions team to discuss the best options for your loved one with an addiction following an intervention. Call (844) 427-6002 today.


There is no universal example of a good intervention letter, but all effective letters share some common components. Communicating gratitude to the person and remaining positive and non-judgmental will set the right tone for the letter. It is worth including a statement that indicates your understanding of addiction as a chronic and relapsing disease rather than a failing on the part of your loved one. All good intervention letters are specific rather than general. Use examples to outline how your loved one’s addiction has impacted you personally. A good intervention letter will always have an underlying message of love and concern. Tying the letter today is the invitation to accept an offer of treatment.
An intervention letter can be structured using five simple paragraphs: 1. Provide positive affirmation to set a positive tone; 2. Acknowledge the addiction using specific examples; 3. Identify the harms caused by addictive behaviors; 4. Encouraging the person to engage with addiction treatment; 5. Outlining the consequences of failing to connect with therapy.


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