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How to Intervene When a
Family Member is Unstable

We all have times in life when we’re not feeling ourselves. Mental health issues affect a great many of us, and can range from periods of anxiety and depression to episodes of psychosis and harmful coping mechanisms such as alcoholism and drug abuse. Given that we’re now in a world that takes these issues seriously, equipping families with the tools to help one another when they’re experiencing a low moment is essential. This guide will help you understand how to intervene when a beloved family member is in need.


There’s no better way to confront someone’s issues that to engage them in a conversation about what’s happening in your life. Remember you’ll need to be careful here: gentle, compassionate, and understanding. Ask questions, and don’t make them feel like they’ve made a mistake, and tell them it’s going to be okay, so long as they are honest with you.

These conversations can sometimes be just what’s needed to help a family member. Merely by sharing what’s troubling them, in a secure environment, your loved one may feel much lighter and more able to deal with the issues they’re suffering from. But some conversations do not lead anywhere, and some people in trouble can simply be defensive and cold, so, there are other ways in which you can intervene to help them out.

Engage Friends

Depending on the strength of your family unit and the unique relationships that constitute your family, you might find that you’re not in a position to speak openly and frankly about mental health with your loved ones. But their friends may well be able to intervene on your behalf, especially if they too are worried about their friend and what might be wrong with them.

So the advice here is to approach the best friends of your loved one, and gently ask whether they’d be interested in helping you get to the bottom of what’s wrong with your family member. Be careful not to betray anyone’s trust or to go about this unethically; this is just a method you can use to get your loved one talking, which is the first step towards a solution to their issues.

Find Solutions

There are always solutions to life’s problems—even those that can seem, at first, incredibly daunting. And this will be the case for your loved one, too. They may not be able to see any solutions from their position in life, but friends and family members may well have a wealth of advice and experience to bring to bear in helping them overcome their difficulties.

For instance, you might be able to persuade your loved one to seek a trial therapy session, in which they’ll be able to share their issues in a non-confrontational, secure, and private place. You might encourage them to visit the doctor, in case there is medication they can take. Or you might simply encourage your loved one to spend more time with their friends—a sure way to brighten their mood.

Use Interventions

There are other, more abrupt ways to intervene in the issues of a loved one—and this includes calling “interventions.” You might well have seen these on TV or in the movies, where a character is suffering from an issue of some sort that is slowly wreaking havoc on their life and their social circle. Interventions are best led by an expert, so bring one of these in before you plan how you’ll sit your loved one down.

The idea here is to surround your loved one with friends and family members, all in one room for one purpose—to help make their life better. The sudden and heartfelt nature of an intervention can often persuade the individual that they need to make a change in their life—especially if substance abuse is the root of their problems.

Consider Going to Court

If your loved one is abusing substances, which is a position that hundreds of thousands of people find themselves in each month, then they may require rehabilitation. A trip to rehab, though, is very daunting for someone suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. As such, it’s often impossible to persuade them to actually head to the center to get themselves better.

Instead, though, you can look up how to get court ordered rehab for your loved one—if you’re sure that’s the solution that they’ll appreciate in the long-run. So, if you’re keen to get your loved one into a center that’ll help them reach sobriety once more, this is an option that you can always reach for on the table. It’s the kind approach, even though it might feel a little odd and unnatural for the first few moments you’re considering it.

There you have it: a list of ways in which you can intervene in the life of a loved one who you see is struggling with troubles—poor mental health, addiction, or otherwise.

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