If you have a son who is struggling with addiction, you are no stranger to the feelings of hopelessness and frustration that come with the territory. Maybe you talked to him about his substance abuse, but your efforts didn’t seem to make a difference. He might be in denial about the extent of his problem, or he may have promised to get help but never followed through. You may have started thinking your son needs an intervention.

While there’s no guaranteed method to convince someone to enter treatment, an intervention may help you break through to your son. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the insidious nature of addiction and discuss the power of intervention.

Understanding Addiction

Having a better understanding of addiction will help you develop the patience and compassion you need to best support your son. Addiction isn’t a choice or a lack of willpower. It’s a chronic disease that causes significant changes to the structure and function of the brain. When drugs and alcohol wreak havoc on the brain, it becomes difficult for person suffering from addiction to make good decisions or to even recognize that they have a problem.1

This explains why people with an addiction continue to use, despite the negative consequences they experience from their substance abuse. It also explains why it’s often necessary to organize an intervention to get a loved one to accept help.

What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is an organized, structured gathering of a person’s family and friends, intended to show the addicted person how their substance abuse affects both themselves and other people. At the intervention, your son will be presented with an opportunity to accept help and get a fresh start in life. Most experts recommend limiting the number of people who attend the intervention to about four to six trusted adults; too many people can be overwhelming and may actually cause the intervention to backfire.

If your son needs an intervention, it is possible to plan one on your own, but it’s a good idea to use the services of a trained addiction professional to plan and lead the meeting. Having a professional in the room can be helpful if there’s a chance your son may become violent or harm himself, and the interventionist will help to keep the conversation focused and prevent emotions from derailing the meeting.

Does It Work?

Not all interventions are successful. When emotions are running high and tempers are flaring, it’s easy for the meeting to backfire. However, an intervention that is planned and led with the help of a professional is likely to have a positive outcome. A study by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence indicates that 90 percent of professionally led interventions result in the person committing to get help.2

If your son needs an intervention, holding one can’t guarantee that he will agree to get help and commit to the hard work of recovery, but it can let him know that you care and remind him that effective treatment is available. With the help of a professionally planned intervention, you may be able to help your son get past his denial and turn his life around.


  1. https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/11/27/how-drugs-hijack-decision-making-in-the-brain/48162.html
  2. https://ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/intervention-tips-and-guidelines