An intervention can be scary. It can be life-changing, emotional, and heartbreaking. That’s why it pays to be prepared. Seeing a loved one who is struggling with a substance use disorder is not only uncomfortable, it’s also painful, and we’re often left racking out brains about ways we can pull our friends family members up out of the darkness. Unfortunately, we cannot force them to get help, but what we can do is be loving and honest about our feelings and how their addiction has affected our lives. The best setting to do this is an intervention. Writing an intervention letter to read will help you gather your thoughts, stick to your bottom line, and effectively communicate what you want to say to your loved one. If you aren’t sure what to say, use these five easy steps to help you write your intervention letter.
Pay attention to detail and word choice
It’s important to keep a consistent tone to your letter, and that tone should be positive and non-accusatory. You don’t want to make your loved one feel bad, defensive, or attacked. Use neutral language and try to communicate your support with the words you choose. Write your letter when you feel clear-headed and calm. Don’t make your letter a book; keep it concise and to the point.
Express your love and support
I cannot stress this enough. An intervention is not a time or place to bash the person in your life who has a substance use disorder. Above all else, your loved one should know that you’re writing this letter and participating in the intervention because you love and care about them and you want to see them get well. They need to feel your love when reading your letter. They need to know that you will support them on their recovery journey to the best of your ability. Through your letter, you should express to them that a healthier life awaits them and that you’ll be there along the way.
Pick a negative memory and explain how it affected your life
Your letter shouldn’t be a list of all the horrible things your loved one has done, but they do need to know how their addiction has had a negative impact on your life and those around you. Using “I” statements you can effectively communicate one particular instance that affected you and explain how it made you feel. Do this without coming off as angry or with blame. You can say that you understand these actions are a side effect of their disease. This part of the letter is where you communicate your hurt and pain in a concerned and loving way.
Make it clear you understand addiction
The disease of addiction is deeply misunderstood by many. Even if you have a family member or friend who is in the throes of addiction it can be difficult to understand why they act the way they do, why they can’t just quit, and why drugs and alcohol affect them differently. Education is the best way to inform yourself about addiction and how you can be an effective ally. Additionally, addiction is still stigmatized, and many people are ashamed to get help or even speak about having substance issues. Your letter should clearly state that you know that your loved one is sick, not a bad person. You can express that you know addiction is not a choice, but rather a sickness from which they can recover. This will help communicate your empathy.
Ask your loved one to consider getting help and communicate your bottom line
Finally, your letter should end with the question, “Are you willing to get help today?” This is the reason you’re participating in the intervention and the goal of the meeting. Your bottom line is when you establish your own set of boundaries. These encourage your loved one to get help and also protect you. For example, if your friend or family member is living with you and you’re paying for their rent and phone bill, you can say you will no longer do these things unless they agree to get help. After you’ve written out your letter with all of these steps, the last thing you’ll want to ask is if they will consider getting help. You’ll want to have a plan in place so they can head straight to addiction treatment if they accept.
You can type or write your letter. The important thing is that it includes all of these steps and you clearly and concisely communicate your message of hope and healing. Your words can be crucial to the success of an intervention, and your loved one deserves to hear your message. That’s why preparing ahead of time with a letter will guarantee that you say something powerful and positive.
Everyone should have the option of getting help for their substance use disorder. Anyone can recover and should have the option to do so. By writing this letter, you’re already helping the person in your life who needs recovery. Thank you for taking the time to do the research, to help a person you love, and to spread the hope of recovery.
Written by: Kelly Fitzgerald