How to Write an Intervention Letter
If you are thinking of staging an addiction intervention, you need to know how to write an addiction intervention letter.
Here's why they are so important...
Family dynamics play an important role in addiction. An intervention brings the family together for a common goal.
That goal should always be to provide the addict with an understanding and support through this difficult time.
An addiction intervention letter plays a vital role in the process. Unfortunately, an intervention can often be hindered without a letter.
Addicts are usually very skilled in manipulation tactics and will often divert the conversation, leading to very little getting accomplished. This also presents the problem of multiple people trying to talk to the loved one at once.
This tactic may give the addict an excuse not to respond. An addict may have a difficult time coming to terms with how their actions are affecting others.
A letter will have a supportive and positive tone that will keep the addict from getting worked up.
Because one thing is true..
Emotions often run high during an intervention. The addict may not pay attention to anything you are saying because they are waiting to defend themselves.
An addiction intervention letter guarantees that you can get a message across to your loved one without interruptions. Creating letters as a family unit allows constructive criticism to be given and the letters to become perfected.
This can help the family members participating in the intervention from feeling overwhelmed and leave them feeling more supportive.
Tips for Creating An Addiction Intervention Letter
- You will want to begin the letter with something that truly comes from the heart, but also touch on how concerned you are. This can be something as simple as a song lyric or a quote. You can also describe the positive memories you have of the loved one or an accomplishment they have achieved.
- Show the addict that you understand that addiction is a disease. You can express that you know it's the addiction that is making your loved one this way and they are not acting this way because they are morally flawed. This will help the addict feel like you understand the difference between who they are as a person and how the addiction makes them behave.
- Reinforce positivity by commenting on messages of love throughout. If you mention something negative, try to also place in something positive. This shows the addict that you are aware of both the good and the bad and are a reliable source.
- Provide examples about how the addict behaves when they are on drugs or alcohol. Be specific about times that they have affected you or other loved ones. After this, or mentioning anything negative about the addict, reiterate how loved the addict is
- Shelf any judgment you may have on the situation the addict is going through. If there are any tones of underlying judgment, the addict will be able to sense this and may go into a defensive mindset.
- You will want to finish the letter by telling the addict how much you love and support them. The last few phrases of the letter should be asking the addict to get help on their journey to recovery.
Letter Creation Process
Addiction intervention letters are to be written in four different parts. You will want to create a cushion for the “bad” parts of the letter. Intervention letters should begin positively and end positively while reinforcing the message of love in between as well.
The first section of your intervention letter should be detailing how much the loved one struggling with addiction means to you and others who love them. Mention that the intervention and intervention letter are both coming from a place of good intentions.
This is when you will want to mention the good memories you have had with the addict or accomplishments they have made. You can also highlight what you hope to see them become in the future and how becoming sober will positively impact their life.
In your letter, highlight their positive attributes. The addiction may heavily impact the majority of their life negatively, but maybe they still manage to do certain things that are positive.
You can say things like, “when you take your child to the park, we really see them light up with how much love you”. Mentioning positive qualities will help the addict realize that you do not see them as a morally bad person.
Talk about life before and after the addiction. Talk about where you have seen the addict come from and that you see a positive light at the end of the tunnel. You will want to mention how many positive attributes they have that make it possible for them to make it out of their addiction.
Part Two: Acknowledging the Problem and its Effect
In the second section of the letter, you highlight how their addiction is concerning you and other people who care for them. It is very important that in this section you are not vague. Leaving concerns open-ended or not going into detail can leave the addict feeling unneeded judgment. You will want to express your concern but in a non-judgmental way.
Do not skate over the problem of addiction. The addiction is changing the addict for the worst and you will want to bring those areas of concern to light. This will show the addict that the changes in their behavior, personality, and demeanor have not gone unnoticed. Give specific examples of how you believe the addiction has created problems in the addict’s life.
You can say things like, “your car was repossessed the other day”. You can also say things like, “you lost your job last month”. You will want to stay away from opinionated comments. This can cause the addict to feel judged and potentially limit the effectiveness of the intervention letter.
Any comments like, “I think you are acting erratically” or “maybe if you didn’t do drugs, you’d be a better person” should be left out of the conversation. You never want to attack the addict’s character.
Part Three: How Their Addiction Has Affected You
As the addiction intervention letter writer, you will want to touch on how you are personally affected by the addict’s decisions and how they have impacted your life.
Mentioning yourself in the letter and speaking in the first person makes the letter feel more authentic and personalized.
This will allow the addict to reflect on their actions.
This will be an especially hard section to not throw in opinionated comments, but it is important that you refrain.
Read your letter over very carefully to make sure nothing sounds judgmental.
Highlight how the addiction has personally hurt your relationship with the addict and how you have noticed things are not like they used to be.
You will want to make sure the addict does not get defensive during this time or try to divert the conversation.
The addict needs to know that you see them as a good person who has been affected negatively by this addiction.
If you mention something that can be taken negatively, try to also mention something they do or did that is positive.
You may be very worried about the addict and this would be the time to mention, even if you are restating it again, how much you worry and care.
In the letter, you can also talk about whether or not you trust the addict.
Considering you probably do not, tell the addict how your level of trust has been impacted and you really want it to change.
Part Four: Asking Them to Get Help
The final part is often a tricky one for loved ones writing addiction intervention letters.
This is usually the part that loved ones want to spend the most time on.
However, it is important to not make this final part of the focal point.
The end goal is to have the addict seek treatment, but you will want them to focus on the other parts of the letter to take accountability and see the error of their ways.
It is best to ask them to get help in short and sweet terms.
Treatment is a gift for loved ones with a disease.
You can say things like, “will you seek treatment and journey to the road of recovery?”.
Do not make treatment sound like it is a punishment for doing something wrong.
Treatment should be seen as a hopeful opportunity for getting better.
Inform the addict that there are many treatment options and you would be willing to help them make that first step.
Intervention letters are a vital tool in early intervention methods that can positively impact an addict’s life. Keep the tone positive and hopeful, while also stating facts about how the addict has changed because of their addiction.
In the case that the addict chooses to not seek help, you will want to move on to a boundary letter. For more information about boundary letters, click to the boundary letter guide here.
If you are planning on hosting an intervention for a loved one struggling with addiction, it is always the best choice to hire a professional interventionist. A professional interventionist will help you stay organized when facilitating an addiction intervention and make sure you have all of your bases covered.