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Heroin Intervention

In the US, heroin addiction is a serious public health problem. Many people are looking for ways to help their loved ones get life-saving treatment. However, organizing a group intervention for opiate addiction can be difficult. It’s a good idea to get help from professional interventionists to guide you through the process, prevent mistakes, and increase your chances of success in convincing your loved one to start their recovery journey.

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How to Stage a Heroin Intervention

While it can be challenging to watch a loved one battle addiction, many people find heroin addiction a formidable issue to address. With how quickly opioid use disorder can develop for heroin users, staging an intervention can be a life-saving measure.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that approximately 9,173 people died from an overdose involving heroin in 2021. Staging a heroin addiction intervention isn’t easy, but by taking the correct steps, recovery from heroin addiction can happen.

1. Get Help From a Professional Heroin Interventionist

The risk of overdose is dangerously high with heroin addiction, so getting help from a professional interventionist is essential to a successful outcome. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for interventions to get off-topic or escalate without the guidance of a professional.

By working with a trained interventionist, you can avoid common pitfalls and intense confrontations, ensuring a clear path to substance abuse treatment.

2. Recruit Loved Ones for a Heroin Intervention Team

Interventions are not intended to shame or “dog pile” the addict; instead, they are meant to confront the addict’s drug use from a place of love and hope for recovery.

Your interventionist can help you choose the right people and clarify each person’s role in the intervention. By involving less reactive, level-headed friends or family members, your intervention has a better chance of success.

3. Make a Heroin Intervention Plan

Interventions require a lot of planning to be successful. Your interventionist can help iron out details like the time, place, day, attendees, and what heroin addiction treatment plan will be offered during the intervention.

While following a pre-written plan may feel unnatural, that planning will act as guide rails, ensuring conversation stays productive and that the path to treatment is straightforward.

4. Rehearse the Heroin Intervention

Rehearsing your heroin intervention has several advantages. The main benefit of a rehearsal is for everyone to understand the part they will play and to prepare for any possible outcomes.

In addition, interventions can be nerve-wracking, so rehearsing can also take some pressure off attendees.

5. Be Ready With Heroin Treatment Resources

A successful intervention guides the addict directly to treatment, so you should choose the addiction treatment program before the intervention begins.

Not all heroin users will require inpatient stays, so work with your interventionist to determine the most appropriate treatment option.

When Is It Time to Intervene in Heroin Addiction?

Although the media portrays interventions as a final attempt, they don’t have to be.

In fact, the earlier you intervene, the more you can avoid potential harm to your loved one and everyone around them.

Signs a heroin intervention may be necessary include:

  • Possession of syringes and hypodermic needles
  • Constantly scratching oneself
  • Lying about their whereabouts and/or activities
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Runny nose
  • Scabs, sores, and other skin problems
  • Pupil constriction
  • Confusion
  • Euphoria
  • Intense mood swings
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Post-Intervention: What Happens to Heroin Addicts Afterward?

If the intervention is successful, the addict’s next step is to enter treatment. What type of treatment your loved one needs may vary depending on factors like age, background, duration of drug addiction, and co-occurring mental illness.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Options

In the case of drug dependence, many addicts will begin with medical detox.

Depending on the severity of heroin withdrawal symptoms, some patients may require medication-assisted treatments (MAT) such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone.

For severe cases of substance use, inpatient treatment (residential) is required. However, in less extreme cases, many patients thrive with intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP). Patients attend these programs for several hours weekly and go home in the evening.

All treatment programs will involve therapy, which aims to address the behavioral health issues that led to and worsened drug abuse in the first place.

Common therapies offered in heroin addiction treatment programs include: 

What If a Heroin Intervention Doesn’t Work?

When an intervention doesn’t work, feeling sad or defeated is normal. However, this doesn’t mean your loved one won’t accept help in the future when they’re more open to treatment.

Ensure you and your intervention team stay firm on the boundaries and consequences laid out during the intervention. Your interventionist will help you take the following steps after a failed intervention.

Types of Interventions

There are many types of addiction interventions, ranging from brief one-on-one conversations to formal interventions planned by a large group.

Which type of intervention is right for your situation depends on many factors; ask your interventionist which intervention you should choose for your loved one.

Here are the main types of interventions you’ll commonly find:

  • Simple/Brief Intervention: Informal, one-on-one interventions that can happen alone and without professional guidance.
  • Formal Intervention: Structured, guided intervention with multiple loved ones in attendance; usually follows a pre-planned structure.
  • Family System Intervention: An intervention where multiple family members participate n the intervention process, emphasizing how the individual’s drug use has impacted the whole family.
  • Crisis Intervention: Special type of intervention designed to respond to a mental health crisis or other urgent need (such as self-harming behavior), offering a safe environment and immediate, short-term relief to the individual.
  • Johnson Model: This intervention structure uses the following seven elements to increase effectiveness:
    1. Intervention Team
    2. Planning
    3. Care-Focused
    4. Notes and Proof
    5. Focus on Addiction Only
    6. Therapy as the Principal Intention
    7. Options for Treatment

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Heroin Interventionist

By hiring a professional interventionist or partnering with a trained counselor, you bring years of training and experience to the situation.

Although DIY interventions can work, they often suffer from common mistakes or missteps that a professional can help you avoid.

The benefits of working with a professional heroin interventionist include:

  • Ensuring you stay firm on consequences and boundaries
  • Pointing out enabling behavior to avoid moving forward
  • Helping you find and arrange treatment options
  • Keeping the intervention productive and on track
  • Diffusing conflicts before they heat up
  • Getting help for the whole family, not just the addict
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  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

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Find a Heroin Interventionist Near You

If your loved one is abusing heroin, staging an intervention with a professional interventionist can provide a path to the life-saving treatment they need.

One way to find a professional interventionist is by getting a referral from a healthcare provider, addiction counselor, or local treatment center.

If you’re having trouble getting a referral, you can find a treatment center through SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or by calling 1-800-662-4357.

You can also find an interventionist through the Association of Intervention Specialists.

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Heroin Intervention FAQs

Do interventions work for heroin addicts?

Yes, interventions can work for heroin addicts when carefully planned and guided by a trained addiction specialist or interventionist.


What do I do if my loved one rejects treatment after an intervention?

Although rejection of treatment can be difficult to handle, remember that they may accept help in the future.

You and your intervention team must stay committed to the consequences stated during the intervention. Your interventionist can advise you on your steps after the intervention fails.

What is the cost of a heroin intervention?

Depending on the interventionist’s experience and their services, heroin interventions can cost between $2,500 and $10,000, depending on the health state of the user and the follow-up options.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. American Psychological Association. (2011). Johnson Intervention. American Psychological Association. Retrieved May 21, 2023, from

  2. Casarella, J. (2022, October 24). What Is an Intervention? WebMD. Retrieved May 21, 2023, from

  3. Millar, T., Craine, N., Carnwath, T., & Donmall, M. (2001, December 1). The Dynamics of Heroin Use; Implications for Intervention. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Retrieved May 21, 2023, from

  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, February 13). What is the Scope of Heroin Use in the United States? National Institutes on Drug Abuse. Retrieved May 21, 2023, from

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, March 31). Drug Overdose Death Rates. National Institutes on Drug Abuse. Retrieved May 21, 2023, from

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