Intervention Letters: What to Say to Your Loved One
By The Orlando Recovery Center
Last Updated: November 1, 2023
Sometimes, the most powerful way to express how you feel about a loved one’s addiction is through a letter. It can also be a very helpful exercise for you to let out your feelings and channel them in a healthy, productive way. Expressing that you’re concerned about someone is important, but if you don’t go about it in an open, loving, and judgement-free way, you can be doing more harm than good. Here is a step-by-step guide to writing a meaningful intervention letter that reflects love, concern, and positive intentions:
A great way to open the letter in a non-attacking way is to thank them for reading your letter. It shows that you value their attention and want to open a dialogue in a calm, deliberate way. It’s also important to make it clear that you’re on their team since very it’s common for addicts to feel isolated and “against” everyone around them. Telling them that you’re on their side, you’re 100% there for them, and you appreciate them will help them become more open to you and listen to you.
Share an anecdote
This is your opportunity to not only express the problem but explain it through a story. Showing tangible, concrete examples of their behavior will help them realize that their addiction is being noticed by others.
Say how much you care
This next paragraph should include how this is personally affecting you. If they love you, they’ll feel bad that this is having such a big impact on your life. You can then go on to explicitly state the issue and how much compassion you have for them. Say that it’s not their fault, you don’t judge, and you’re not there to scold them. All you want is for them to seek professional help.
State the benefits of sobriety
Say that if they seek treatment, it will help their lives in so many ways. They can join the soccer team again, go back to college, or do whatever it is that brought them so much joy before. Paint a picture for them to show how much better their life can be.
Pressure them if necessary
If you’re a parent or guardian writing this letter, it can be helpful to incentivize them to quit through tangible actions. Perhaps you’ll stop paying their cell phone bill or giving them a place to live. This can be difficult for a parent to write, but remember that it’s important for your child’s sobriety.
Example of an intervention letter
The following letter is an example of an intervention letter that you might find helpful for reference.
Thank you for being here today and taking the time to hear me out. We’re here because we love you, we care about you, and we want what’s best for your happiness and health. We are 100% on your side and will do whatever it takes to understand you and help you through this difficult time.
As you might know, we’re here because we’re concerned about your alcohol consumption habits. We used to be so close and open with each other, but ever since you began drinking, I feel that you’ve become an entirely different person. I’ll never forget the time you picked up our brother from soccer practice drunk and drove him home without a second thought. We wouldn’t have even known about it if little Michael, only age six, hadn’t told us that his cousin Sarah drove recklessly home as he sat scared in the backseat. Imagine would have happened if you got a DUI, or even worse, got into a car crash.
I cannot sit by and watch you put your own life and others’ lives at risk. I also can’t go on knowing that you’re constantly putting yourself in dangerous situations and let your judgment fall apart. I often can’t sleep at night thinking that you’re out there poisoning yourself, making poor decisions and quietly numbing yourself from life’s problems. I’m writing this letter to you to tell you that you need help. I know that it’s not your fault and I don’t judge you. Alcohol addiction is a dangerous disease that catches far too many. But luckily, it’s a disease that can be cured. All that it takes is for you to accept your problem and do what’s best for you and your family: seek the help you need.
If you agree to get help, think about how much in your life can change for the better. You can go back to college, move into a brand new apartment, and start over. If you go through with this, we’ll be with you ever step of the way, both emotionally and financially. Again, we will do whatever it takes to help you. We just want what’s best for you.