An intervention is a last resort effort by an addict’s family members to encourage their loved one to seek addiction treatment.
The process was sensationalized by A&E’s hit television show “Intervention”, but the process was created during the 1960s by Dr. Vernon Johnson, an Episcopal priest, recovered alcoholic, and professor at Rutgers University. An intervention provides a structured process of conversation between an addict and their friends and family members with the goal of showing the addict how their behavior affects those closest to them.
There are a variety of different models that an interventionist can follow such as the Johnson model, the invitational model, the ARISE® intervention model, the confrontational intervention model, the love first approach, the systemic family model and the tough love approach. The Johnson model and invitational model are the two most popular models implemented by interventionists. The interventionist will ultimately decide which treatment model is appropriate based on the addict’s needs as well as their own personal philosophy.
When it comes to staging an intervention, there are six steps.
- Find an interventionist. Interventionists are very mobile. So if you know of a reputable interventionist in another state, feel free to reach out to them. All interventionists will gladly speak with you about the problems you’re experiencing as well as provide a free estimate for their services. Interventions can be very costly. Families are often asked to pay all of the travel expenses and additional fees of the interventionist. However, when someone is battling an addiction, their life is at stake. PsychologyToday.com is an excellent resource for finding addiction treatment professionals. Just enter your zip code on the main homepage to begin your search. Conducting your own intervention is not recommended and interventions conducted by outside professionals will be taken more seriously by the addict.
- Decide who will participate in the intervention. The interventionist will be able to help you decide who should and should not be in attendance for the intervention. Small children should most often be excluded due to the intense confrontations that often take place.
- Rehearse the intervention ahead of time. – With the interventionist’s help, friends and family members will write a draft about how the addict’s behavior affects their lives. During this step, the interventionist will also educate group members about addiction and recovery. You would be surprised at how little family members know about addiction and the treatment process. In fact, family members often know so little about addiction that they end up enabling the addict and making things worse.
- Choose and place and time for the intervention. Ideally, interventions should take place when the addict is sober and in a comfortable environment.
- Accepting the outcome. Be prepared for the worst. Substance abuse changes an addict’s brain chemistry, thought processes and reactions. Many addicts are in denial about their condition and often feel cornered when confronted about their substance abuse. Trust that the interventionist will know how to diffuse whatever volatile situations may arise.
Even though an addict may refuse to seek addiction treatment after the intervention, the intervention will likely open up the lines of communication between the addict and their loved ones. The loved ones may no longer fear confronting the addict about their addiction, and this is a plus.