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How to do an Intervention for a Cell Phone Addict

Updated on April 16, 2011

Recognizing When There is a Problem

In today's world, the idea of living without a cell phone is unthinkable. For many of us, it's a daily item. But for some individuals, cell phone use can become an addiction. With the addition of texting and web access, people can end up spending a tremendous amount of time communicating with others using their cell phone to the point where actual human interaction is impeded. The signs of addiction are all too visible: an inability to drive without calling or texting, texting friends or relatives even if they are sitting in the same room, speaking or getting calls in public places like churches, funerals and weddings, a feeling of sheer panic at the thought of not speaking to someone while doing ordinary tasks or walking, an inability to secure the addict's attention during a cell phone interaction and so on. Now you and your friends can hold an intervention to help the person realize that they have an addiction!

We've all been there....
We've all been there....

Preparing for the Intervention

It's important that everyone be on the same page before confronting the addict with their problem. Get friends and family members to attend a meeting. Discuss the addiction. Does the person rack up huge cell phone bills and frequently has to borrow money to pay them? Are they always upgrading their phone or buying the latest gadget to be in constant contact? Is their Bluetooth earpiece always attached to their skull? Decide if the person really has a problem.

Where to have the Intervention

It's going to be CRUCIAL that the intervention takes place in an area where cell phones are either not allowed or highly shielded so that calls cannot get through. You will have zero chance to reach the cell phone addict if the phone is forever going off or if they are focused on texting or doing other activities online. Don't attempt to take the phone away. Remember, the person you are dealing with is an addict. By taking the phone away by force, the addict will be less likely to listen to your concerns. Pick a place that everyone can meet at comfortably.

The night before the Intervention

Have everyone draft a short statement about how the cell phone addict's actions has affected them. Cite actual experiences. Whenever possible, include statements from strangers who have been annoyed or offended at the cell phone addict's inappropriate use during family social events. Never forget to stress that you miss your interactions with the person, not the phone. Talk about how you feel with the addict's inability to communicate without a cell phone.


Get the cell phone addict to the intervention location. This can be difficult. You may need to call or text the cell phone addict to communicate that information. Convince them it's necessary. When they arrive, be warm and inviting. Allow the designated spokesperson (who could be a counselor, but doesn't have to be) to control the intervention. The spokesman should be selected on the basis of the ability of being impartial during the intervention.

Let the cell phone addict relax. Allow the spokesperson to explain the group's concerns. When asked by the spokesperson, each person should read their prepared remarks and express how their relationships have been negatively impacted by cell phone usage. Let the person know you want to interact with them, not an electronic device. This is about love.

When everyone has had their say, assuming that the person hasn't walked out, ask the cell phone addict to agree to stop using their phone or restrict their use of the phone. Listen carefully to the addict's fears or concerns and address them. It may take several attempts to get the message across. Don't be afraid to use tough love if the person has been borrowing money or stealing funds to pay for their cell phone addiction. Let them know that no one in the intervention will be providing funds for their addiction! It's time to let them know you've had enough and want to see change.

After the Intervention

Be very supportive of any behavior or interactions that occur without the use of a cell phone. Encourage face-to-face contact. Don't text when the cell phone addict is in the same room! Speak to them instead. If you notice the person without their cell phone or Bluetooth, congratulate them on overcoming their addiction. Let them know how happy you are to communicate with them directly! It will encourage less cell usage.

Falling off the Wagon

As with all addictions, cell phone addicts can fall off the wagon, particularly whenever new technology appears. They may race to get the latest phone because of what it can do and seek to try all of it, falling into bad habits. Gently remind the person not to become so involved in their new toy that they stop communicating without it. Let them know you love and care about them as people, not words on a screen or on a voice on a phone!

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    • LuckyWilliams profile image

      Peter W. 5 years ago from Huntington, WV

      Im of the generation where people my age and younger are tech savvy and all about gadgets and using them while driving. I was raised to use a phone, much less a cell phone when I am not driving and not going to put myself in harms way, much less any others. this is a growing problem...and kids will not listen to adults 8 times out of 10 because they believe they know better and will have to learn it the hard way.

    • profile image

      mandy 6 years ago

      my mothr is a complet cell phone addict she cant hold a convo unless its threw text or bbm. she ignores me her loving daughter and when i come over with her cute granddaughter. i have even offerd to take her our for drinks and she refused because she wants to go to sleep aka hide in her room and text. also when i take her out for lunch or other daily activitys she is glued to her phone. the dr has told her she has arthrites and i far its due to way to much movmnt of the thum to text. god foirbide she goes a min without time on her phone. im thinking about a real intrvnmtion but im affird during the inteervention she will txt for help. please help

      signd daughters of an addict


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