Addiction is a deadly disease that destroys the lives of everyone who comes into contact with it. It is not just the addict or alcoholic who is negatively impacted. The entire family is disrupted.
It is particularly difficult when mothers become addicted to alcohol or drugs like crystal meth, heroin, cocaine, or prescription painkillers. Their children – no matter what age they are – suffer from very painful feelings like disappointment, rage, confusion, humiliation, and gut-wrenching sadness. They also confront situations they should never have to face like neglect and abuse.
If your mother is currently suffering from a substance use disorder, we know how troubling it can be. Our heart goes out to you and your family. These are difficult times indeed.
If you are reading this article, you and your family have probably made the brave decision to stage an intervention. You are looking for guidance on how to effectively write an intervention letter to your mom. We want to help.
What is an Intervention Letter?
Staging an intervention is about motivating someone who is addicted to go to drug or alcohol rehab to get sober. This usually involves the friends and family members of the addicted person and a professional interventionist.
Intervention letters are written and read by loved ones as a way to communicate painful feelings, encourage sobriety, and set boundaries with the addicted person if they are not willing to get help. If written correctly, they can be a very powerful tool; one that serves as a kind of “wake up call” for the addicted person.
During an intervention, there is a lot of emotional energy in the room. Reading letters allows the family to express feelings, experiences, and thoughts in a very organized fashion. This prevents loved ones from exploding into impulsive anger or freezing up and not knowing what to say.
Here is a helpful resource guide that explains everything you need to know about staging an intervention.
The Benefits of Writing an Intervention Letter
There are several very important benefits to writing an intervention letter to your mother.
The first and most obvious is that it will be read in a controlled environment designed to get your mom into treatment. The idea is that when you and your other family members read your letters, your mom will have a moment of realization. This sudden epiphany will hopefully spark a desire to get into recovery.
Another benefit of writing an intervention letter to your mom is that it gives you the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings in a safe place. You will write the letter alone, and then you will read it aloud in the company of the people you love most. This can be quite healing for all involved.
Finally, your intervention letter allows you to tell your mom in no uncertain terms what you are no longer willing to tolerate. Her addiction has surely been a tremendous burden for you to carry. It is time to let her know that you plan to start taking care of yourself from now on.
9 Helpful Tips for Writing an Intervention Letter to Your Mom
Most people have absolutely no experience writing intervention letters. That is okay. This is not an exact science. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to write an intervention letter. However; many people psych themselves out before even start.
We want to share 9 tips for writing an intervention letter to your mom. Hopefully, these will ease any fears you might have about the process and give you some direction if you are stuck.
# 1 Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings
You should know going in that writing such a heartfelt letter is probably going to be an emotional experience for you. In fact, it is fair to say that most intervention letters have teardrops on them because they are written from a place of pain. You and your mom have likely developed a codependent relationship during the course of her addiction and you are hurting because of it.
Give yourself permission to feel your feelings as you sit down to write the intervention letter to your mom. It is okay to be angry, sad, frustrated, scared, or confused. It is okay to feel WHATEVER feelings come up for you.
It is important that you write this letter when you have the time and a safe space to do so. You don’t want to rush this process. You shouldn’t try to complete it during your lunch break at work. You also don’t want to do it in a crowded place or in the company of other people.
Find some quiet time in a place where you feel at ease and write your letter. This will give you the opportunity to cry, yell, or beat on your pillow if you have to.
# 2 Be Authentic and Let the Words Flow
This is a time to get real about how you feel about how your mom’s addiction. You will explain to her how her substance abuse has affected you personally. Be honest and authentic about your experience.
Don’t worry about how you “sound.” All too often, people get caught up in the idea that their letter should be delivered as some kind of eloquent monologue. Don’t get trapped into this thinking.
You should not concern yourself with how well your letter is written, how it sounds when you read it, or whether or not you use “big words.” Just pick up a pen and write down whatever comes to you.
You might wind up with several drafts of the same letter. You may start the letter, rip it up, and start over several times. This is all okay! Writing this letter can be a healing experience for you if you let it.
Just write down what comes to you. You can always edit as necessary and make a final draft you feel satisfied with to read during the intervention. Don’t focus so much on how the letter will be received by your mother. Focus on the fact that this is an opportunity to say some things you have wanted to say for a while.
This letter is as much about you as it is about your mom. Share from your heart.
# 3 Begin With Love
Begin your letter by telling your mom how much you love her. Tell her all the reasons why you think she is a good mother and an amazing person. Maybe recall a time before her addiction when you had an awesome time together. Tell her you miss her and would like to make more happy memories together.
It may be difficult to do this if you are filled with anger. Nevertheless, It is okay to love your mom and be mad at her at the same time. If you think back to all the wonderful times you have shared together, it will probably soften your heart. When you get in touch with the love you feel for your mom, it just makes the entire process easier.
Plus, you want to open your intervention letter with kindness so you will gain your mother’s attention. If you begin your letter by laying into her and telling her how messed up you think she is, she is likely to shut down. She will stop listening and close off emotionally. Then, the rest of your letter will fall on deaf ears.
# 4 Show Compassion
Ok, we just told you to let the words flow and be honest. However; it is also important to show compassion in your intervention letter. It will not help your mom if you express rage by calling her names or belittling her. It is not necessary to shame her or try to make her feel guilty for her many mistakes.
Remember, the goal of this letter is to motivate your mom to get sober. If she does not feel as if she has your support and unconditional love, she may not be willing to get help for her addiction.
Addicted people look for any reason to stay drunk or high. If you lash out in anger and tell her nasty things about herself, she might tell herself that she is too far gone and refuse help. (A typical reaction is, “They all hate me anyway. I might as well get loaded!” )
Need some help with your anger? Here are 15 ways to work through resentments.
# 5 Keep in Mind Your Mom is Not Well
It might make it easier for you to show compassion to your mom if you can remember that she suffers from the disease of addiction. Remember, this is not a choice or character defect. Your mom is not bad; she is sick. If you are still confused about the concept of addiction or alcoholism as a disease, please do some research.
Drug and alcohol addiction causes people to make poor choices and hurt the ones they love the most. Even though your mom is responsible for her actions, you have to remember that she isn’t “all there.” She continues to live a hazy state of mind, one that causes bad judgment and results in negative consequences.
For all intents and purposes; you should consider your mother mentally ill if she is addicted to alcohol or drugs like crystal meth. Understanding this may make it easier for you to extend her some grace and mercy right now.
# 6 Share the Knowledge You Have Learned About the Disease of Addiction
Be sure to include information you have learned on your quest to acquire more knowledge about the disease of addiction. Explain to her that – even though she might not understand it now – she is ill and she needs help to get well again.
Whether she shows it or not, your mom is experiencing a lot of shame and guilt right now. She is not proud of the person she has become. Addiction is running her life and she feels helpless to stop the cycle.
Your mom will learn more about her illness in recovery. In the meantime, it would be helpful to tell her that you have read a lot about her disease and you know recovery is possible.
# 7 Offer Your Personal Experience
It is a good idea to share specific examples of times that your mom’s addiction affected you directly. It is important to share your feelings with your mother, but providing concrete evidence is also important. Addicted people are master manipulators. They can easily spin a story and turn things around on others and say, “That wasn’t my fault!”
Stick to the facts.
For instance, you might want to tell her that she continues to put your life in danger every time she drives you places while she is intoxicated. You might discuss a time that her drunkenness or drug use prompted embarrassing behavior on her part, which humiliated you in front of your friends. Maybe she got high at your wedding and acted inappropriately. Perhaps she stole from you, destroyed your property, or abused you in some way.
Providing at least two (but no more than five) specific instances where her drug or alcohol use caused you to harm might be a real eye-opener for her. She may not remember these occasions or she might have justified them in some way. Explaining to her how her addiction has negatively impacted you may serve as a wakeup call.
# 8 Set Healthy Boundaries
An intervention is designed to motivate an addict or alcoholic to get sober. You and your family should have specific objectives of your desired outcome – like going to rehab.
In order to motivate your mother to change, there have to be consequences if she does not take positive action. You MUST set boundaries with her and stick to them.
For instance, you may tell her that she is not allowed to spend time with her grandkids if she doesn’t get clean. If she is living with you, you might have to ask her to move out. Or, perhaps you might go so far as to tell her that you do not want to see her or talk to her unless she quits drinking or drugging.
Make these boundaries clear in the intervention letter to your mother. You absolutely MUST be willing to live up to these boundaries if she decides not to get help for her addiction. Otherwise, you will just continue to enable her and participate in a codependent relationship.
# 9 Do Not Have Any Expectations
You should have no expectations when you write your intervention letter. It is totally natural to have a burning hope in your heart that your mother will get sober. However; there are no guarantees.
Addiction is a complex disease that affects women very profoundly – especially mothers. She may not be ready to admit that she has a problem – despite all the evidence that she needs help.
Write your intervention letter without trying to predict the outcome. This will make it less traumatic and disappointing for you if she refuses to get help. The purpose of your letter is to state how her addiction has negatively impacted your life, encourage her to seek help, and tell her what will happen if she doesn’t.
Also, keep in mind that if your mother does not go to rehab, this does not mean she doesn’t care about you. It does not mean she loves her drugs or alcohol more than you. It means that her denial runs deep and she is simply unwilling to put in the work required to enjoy life in recovery.
This has NOTHING to do with you. That may be a difficult concept to wrap your mind around, but it is the truth.
Seek Support and Begin Your Own Healing Journey
It is a good idea for you to get some support as you navigate your mother’s illness and her recovery.
Chances are, you feel completely exhausted by your mother’s addiction by now. Thus far, you have probably gone to great lengths to help her, take care of her, and save her from her own consequences. Interventions are usually the “last straw” effort taken by a family when everything else has failed.
Whether your mother gets help or not, you need help. Her problem has become your problem and you need to undergo your own process to get well.
It is also a good idea to get counseling with a licensed mental health professional like a therapist. Having someone to talk to as you navigate your own healing can do more good for you than you might realize.
No Matter How Hopeless it Seems, Healing is Possible
If your mom makes the brave decision to get clean, you will be amazed at the beautiful things that can happen for your relationship. As some point, she will work Steps 8 and 9 and make proper amends to you. With time, things will get better and before you know it, you will have your mom back.
If you think your mom is a hopeless case, think again. Millions of addicted people around the world have found recovery and turned their mess into a message. Here are 15 sober celebs who will give you hope.
Also, here are a few helpful resources that might help you write an intervention letter to your mom. You can also share these with your mom if the opportunity presents itself:
From the entire team at Northpoint at Evergreen, we wish wellness for you and your family as you write your intervention letter and share it with your mother. If you need us, we’re here.