Writing a Sample Intervention Letter
An intervention letter is a good way for family members who are far away or who may not feel comfortable taking part in an addiction intervention in person to play a positive role from a distance. They can share their concerns, offer their emotional support, and talk about the hope that awaits with treatment.
Additionally, an intervention letter is a good way for participants who will be at the intervention to write out their thoughts on paper, organizing them in a way that makes sense, and deleting anything that may not be appropriate to the task at hand. For many, the act of writing things down helps them to gain perspective, and determine what it is that they need to say at the event itself and what can or should wait until another time.
An intervention letter can address all the topics that an in-person “share” would touch upon, maintaining a careful and even tone. There are a number of goals that an intervention letter and “share” have in common, including:
- Identification of addiction: Many people living in addiction are unable to recognize the dire nature of their condition. It can take pointing out the many consequences that have occurred and their connection to use of drugs and alcohol, one after the other, to convey to the individual that addiction is indeed the issue they are facing. In an intervention letter, writers can point out the negative incidents and situations that were caused by drug use as well as the “near misses” that could have resulted in fatality or loss of freedom due to incarceration.
- No judgment: Throughout the intervention letter, it is important to avoid blaming the individual who is struggling with addiction. Ultimately, despite the personal nature of its consequences, addiction is a medical disorder – chronic and recurring – much like diabetes or cancer, and it is important that the person to whom the letter is targeted not feel attacked in any way.
- Identification of the need for immediate treatment: Once it has been identified that addiction is a medical issue and one that is a problem for the person in question, it should be made clear that addiction treatment is needed – medical care and therapeutic support – starting right now, today.
- Identification of changes that will occur: It can also be pointed out how the author of the letter may have contributed to the nature of the addiction, either by saying nothing, unaware of the serious issues that were occurring, or by providing some level of financial or emotional support that created a buffer between the individual and the consequences that might have otherwise caused the person to recognize the serious nature of their addiction earlier. In the letter, it can be clearly outlined how those choices will change in the future through removal of financial support or other supports that have made a life in addiction easier for the person struggling with the disorder.
- Hope for the future: Through treatment, there can be hope and the potential for rebuilding relationships that have been harmed by addiction. Healing can occur for everyone in the family, from the author of the intervention letter to its recipient and everyone in between, but for that to occur, all parties must be open and receptive to comprehensive addiction treatment and recovery.
Depending on the style of the author and the relationship of the individual to the person living with addiction, there may be a number of different components of an intervention letter. These can include:
- Emphasis on the idea that addiction is not the fault of the recipient of the letter
- Gentle emphasis on the need for treatment
- Focus on the hope that comes through recovery
- A reminder that there is no hope if addiction is allowed to continue
- Plans for a new life together when addiction is in the past
- Acknowledgement of the work ahead
- Pledged support throughout the process
Sample Intervention Letter
Though intervention letters will vary based on the relationship between the author and the recipient, the following is a sample letter, written from one adult sibling to another sibling living in addiction:
Thank you for reading this letter. I know this is a hard time for you. I wish I could be there in person to help you through this.
The past few years have been hard on us, on me and on you as well as us together. I want you to know that this is serious. If the addiction disorder continues, it can end with you overdosing, dying in an accident, or getting arrested and ending up in prison. Just the thought of those things happening to you keeps me up at night. I am continually worried, often sad about how we are no longer close the way we once were and how much has been lost because of this addiction.
I also want you to know that this is not your fault. Addiction is a medical disorder. Drugs and alcohol change the brain, make it harder for you to think clearly; they even change your personality. You are not the person you were when this whole thing started. Remember last month when I invited you up here so you could take part in the baby’s christening? You didn’t return my calls for months, and when I finally got ahold of you, you said you would be there but then you didn’t show up. There is no way you would have let that happen five years ago, back before the addiction disorder took over. This is not who you are.
I feel like I am partially to blame for letting it get this far. I sent you money when I probably shouldn’t have and that didn’t help. I won’t be doing that again. I know now that only made things worse.
Treatment is the only way to make sure you are safe. You can get the treatment you need to really put all this in the past and start a new life. I truly believe you can begin the process of healing through treatment. I know it won’t be easy, but you will have us with you, supporting you, the entire way. I miss you so much, and I love you, T. Please choose to get help. With treatment, things really can get better.