How Do I Know It’s Time for An Intervention?

It’s difficult to know when there’s the need for an intervention. 

Many believe that they can simply talk to the addict in question and lay their emotions out on the table, and then everything will change in their loved one’s mind. 

It doesn’t always work like that. In fact, it rarely works like that. Depending on how severe an addiction is, the “point of no return,” when they consciously decide that they have a problem, may have been two exits back. This is when you need an intervention, when there’s nothing that can be done except delivering ultimatums and having a thorough discussion. Detox and rehab still need to be the choice of the addict, whether or not that was due to emotional reasons shared with them by their family and friends during an intervention. They need to walk through those doors with the desire to get, and stay, clean. Sometimes, families can stage interventions that actually work and help their loved ones; however, they need to know the signs to look for before the addiction becomes so heavy. If you’ve never been around someone who’s suffering from addiction in the past, it can be difficult to spot the signs for yourself. Here’s a list of some of the most common signs that should raise some red flags in your mind.

Barely Getting By

Alcohol and drug addiction aren’t free, and it certainly isn’t cheap. More often than not, drug dealers will offer their first few fixes for free, only to reveal the true cost of how much their supply is actually worth. At this point, money starts becoming an issue. If they were living a lavish lifestyle before or were at least the type of person to never borrow money or pawn their possessions, it may be all about to change. When they lose their job, begin lowering their lifestyle capabilities, and start suffering financial difficulties, like selling possessions, there’s a good chance they’re falling deeper into addiction.

Changes in Appearance

We all have lazy days where we don’t want to switch out of sweatshirts and pajama bottoms. However, when this becomes a habit, it may be either addiction or depression. More often than not, when the only center of an addict’s life is their vice of choice, their appearance is the last thing on their mind. Oral and personal hygiene, as well as the cleanliness of their clothes, all become second to the fix they’re searching for.

Dodgy Behavior Patterns

When you know someone, you know when something is amiss. Their behavior changes, they have sudden schedule changes that just don’t seem to fit right, and they go out late at night when they have no apparent destination. Noticing changes in behavior is usually the first step towards evaluating whether something isn’t right, whether it’s addiction or something else.

Enhanced Emotions

This usually manifests itself in the form of rage or unchecked aggression. 

When you ask them where they’re headed so late at night, they may get immediately agitated and defensive. Nobody is proud to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, which is why they sneak out at night and deny everything. Being accused, even silently, can immediately set them off to a level of explosive anger, and the impact of the alcohol or drug in their system is directly to blame.

Increased Tolerance

Do they need an extra few bottles of beer or extra glasses of wine each night to get that same effect? Have they been refilling their prescription medication repeatedly? 
Their body is building up a tolerance to their vice, and they require more of it each and every time to reach the same high or same state of drunkenness. The addict adds more and more of their vice to their daily life or ritual, and they run a higher risk of overdosing as each day goes on.


Addicts have a great deal going on mentally, that someone who’s never used alcohol or drugs simply won’t understand. They become lost in themselves, because they know others will disapprove. 

They isolate themselves away in their rooms, stop attending social events, even obligatory ones, stop answering calls and texts, and overall become difficult to reach or find.

Mental Fog

Often forgetting something that just happened or taking longer than usual to come back with a response are both signs that their head is in a fog, either due to drug use or alcoholism. It’s imperative not to brush this off as them just being tired, at least when this becomes a consistent issue. Don’t make up excuses for their behavior and see if it persists or worsens.

Their Wellbeing

Fatal drug overdoses are reported multiple times every day in the United States, sometimes hourly. 
It’s not just a matter of getting their lives back on track, it’s a matter of saving them. Interventions have proven to be the most effective tool at our disposal to rope our loved ones back into their lives, to show them that there are people who care about them, and they don’t need their vice of choice to feel alive.

List of Addictions (partial list)

  • Alcohol
  • Body building (exercising excessively)
  • Drugs (cocaine, hash, heroin, marijuana, meth, opioids, prescription)
  • Food (anorexia, bulimia, diuretics)
  • Gambling (betting)
  • High risk behaviors (speeding, sports)
  • Hoarding (junk collecting)
  • Kleptomania
  • Pain seeking (burning, cutting, self-mutilation, shocking)
  • Pornography
  • Pyromania (arson, fire setting)
  • Sex (fetishes, sexting)
  • Shopping
  • Technology (computers, internet, sexting, video games, x-box)

Anything taken to an extreme can become an addiction. 

Addictive personalities can and will abuse almost anything or behavior.

Choosing to stage an intervention, or hire an interventionist to help you with it, isn’t an easy choice. Those staging the intervention often feel like they’re somehow betraying their loved one or at least cornering them. The fact of the matter is, this is one way you know that it’s time to initiate an intervention. 

When the fear of losing them in any way becomes so great, it’s telling you something. It’s never too late. When you know that your loved one is suffering, you should absolutely do something to help them. An intervention is properly timed when the addict is still suffering and still breathing. There’s never a wrong time to do something right.