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Intervention Letters

Intervention letters play a crucial role in interventions. This is a structured way for you to organize your thoughts to be clearly presented to your loved one during the intervention. Not only will it show that you have made preparations ahead of time but also, that this is an area of serious concern to you. The letters will also give you the necessary confidence as you address your loved one.

There are many different templates to follow when writing an intervention letter, and your interventionist will work closely with you to guide you through the process. Your interventionist should give you a sample letter, and answer any questions you may have. It is important to remember that this letter should come from the heart most importantly, rather than strictly following an outline found online.

Paragraph 1: Begin your letter with positive affirmations. In an intervention setting, the addict is likely to go on the defensive after being confronted suddenly. By beginning with affirmations, it can help disarm the resistance and help the addict be more receptive to your words and thoughts going forward.

  • Reiterate your love and concern, from which this intervention is stemming.
  • Emphasize that you care for this person, and only hope to see them get better.
  • Make sure your words are positive, rather than judgmental or confrontational

Paragraph 2: Acknowledge the information you have learned about addiction as a disease. Be sure to include specific evidence that proves to you that your loved one is suffering from an addiction problem. Expect your loved one to be in denial about the extent of the harm their addiction has caused. Sometimes they may be in denial about having  a problem with drugs or alcohol.

  • Expect their denial and have evidence ready for the contrary.
  • Explain why you think they are in serious need of medical help.
  • Have there been situations you want to highlight that show your concern for their health and possibly even their life?

Paragraph 3: Talk about the consequences of their addiction. What can you point out in their life that they have lost as a result, without being confrontational? This can include materialistic loss and more importantly, broken relationships, lost trust, feelings of yours that have been hurt.

  • Keep it as personal as possible. Your complaints should be how their actions have hurt you specifically. Let others speak for themselves.
  • Use “I” statements, this will help the addict be more receptive and allow for less room for denial.
  • Be specific, because generalizations can allow for debate, argument, and denial.

Paragraph 4: Set your boundaries. To help encourage the addict that their behaviors and actions will no longer be tolerated by you, the loved ones around must refuse to enable these behaviors. Do not present your list of boundaries as ultimatums but rather show how your loved one’s behaviors have forced you to outline new behaviors of your own.

  • Write about how your relationship will change if they continue using drugs and alcohol and do not accept the help you are offering
  • Outline things you are providing, or you have control of taking away (ex. a car, money, housing, etc.)

Paragraph 5: Similar to how you started, end the letter with more positive and encouraging words. Remind them again how loved they are and how much everyone there cares for them. Sound optimistic, and remind them all the opportunities and possibilities they will have after successful completion of treatment.

  • Use phrases like “I would like to see…” and “you have the rest of your life ahead of you.”
  • Remind them how much your relationship with them means to you
  • Describe positive attributes about them when they are not using

For your reference, find a sample letter below. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids published this open letter from a brother who’s sibling is suffering from drug addiction. The expression of pain yet being in a loving manner is powerful in this letter. This letter follows a very similar outline as what was just described above.

Dear Oliver,

I just wanted to say how proud of you I am as your brother. I’ve never known someone with the same heart for others that you have. Growing up, you always made sure that I and the rest of our younger siblings were taken care of before you worried about yourself. I’ll never forget that and I’ll always love you for it.

Recently, I feel as though I don’t know you as well as I used to. It’s hard to have a conversation with you because you rarely answer the phone sober. We haven’t been able to play pickup basketball because you start drinking as soon as you get off of work. I’ve reached out to the rest of the family and they tell me that they’ve been having the same troubles getting ahold of you.

I feel like I’m losing my brother, and that breaks my heart. I wanted you to be the best man at my wedding, but now my fiancée doesn’t feel comfortable with you in the wedding party after you slurred through your speech at the rehearsal. I wanted you to be the godfather to my newborn child, but you were out at the bar during the naming ceremony. I want us to be close like we used to be, but it’s hard to see how we can shrink the distance when you are almost always inebriated.

It is your choice if you decide to continue to drink and party like you’ve been doing. I will respect what you want for your life. However, I refuse to help you along a path that I 100% believe is going to take you away from us. If you choose not to enter treatment, then I will no longer be lending you money or my car. If you choose not to enter treatment, I will not be allowing you to spend time with your nephew. I’m afraid that if you don’t find a way to manage your drinking, I’ll lose my brother for good.

Oliver, I will always love you. You’re a smart, ambitious man who made an amazing older brother when we were growing up. That’s why it hurts me so much to see you like this. I want us to keep growing together, as brothers and as men. Please get the help you need to get your drinking under control.

With love,

Roy

If you are still struggling with how to start your intervention letter or what to write in it, or even the feelings that are coming up for you while writing your intervention letter, be sure to consult your professional interventionist who can further help you. We have specialists and counselors at GateHouse Treatment who are willing to help you along the process.

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