Safe Intervention Essentials

If you are reading this page to address a current suspicion of impairment or drug diversion, review these important points.  If there is concern due to risk of imminent harm, call 911 immediately. 

Ideally, an intervention should be planned and in place prior to confronting the individual, which means swift and thorough coordination of a large number of variables. If there is time, see Preparing for a Planned Intervention. Resources to help create a substance use disorder policy including a planned intervention process can be found at

Important steps in safely addressing a current suspicion of impairment or drug diversion:

Crisis Intervention Essentials:

In situations that may warrant conducting a crisis intervention (e.g., impaired during patient care and need to remove from clinical practice), be sure to follow these essentials:    

  1. Do not let the person out of your sight! Do not let them drive!
  2. Get a properly collected drug test.
  3. Contact a treatment center to provide a trained interventionist or at least guidance and to have a bed ready.
  4. If possible, include a trained interventionist, family, spouse, and colleagues.
  5. Bring all evidence.
  6. Do not let the impaired individual decide treatment. Remember, they are sick.
  7. Only when all else fails, threaten to call the police. Often, this will cause the individual to admit that he/she has a serious problem.
Legal Reporting:

The priority is to get the impaired individual evaluated and into treatment safely, reporting to the proper state and medical or nursing board can usually wait. If your workplace does not have a policy process for reporting, see Getting Help to contact your State Peer Advisor for state specific information.

Post Treatment Resources:

Source: Hamza H and Bryson EO.​ The Drug Seeking Anesthesia Provider, International Anesthesiology Clinics, 2011;49(1):157-171. Addressing Substance Use Disorder for Anesthesia Professionals position statement and policy considerations (