An intervention is a formal process for the addicted person’s family and friends to come together and convince their loved one that their addiction must be confronted and addressed by treatment.
Treatment options can range from community based groups like Twelve Step programs, to individual or outpatient services, to full time, residential-type care. Typically, if the addiction has reached a degree of severity to convince a family that an intervention may be necessary, the level of treatment response needs to be significant-most interventions conclude with the person entering a period of full time, residential care in a treatment center specializing in the care of addictive disorders.
The Intervention Process
The intervention process begins with a period of education for the addicted person’s support system (family, friends, co-workers). They learn about the disease, signs of addiction, denial, and the tools and techniques to be used to convince their loved one to get help. This education process usually takes only a few hours, at the end of which the support group is fully prepared to conduct the intervention, under the guidance of the interventionist, and see it through to a successful conclusion.
The Goal and Challenges of Intervention
The goal, and the challenge, of a successful intervention is to convince an addicted person to engage in treatment, even though he or she doesn’t think he needs it. This comes down to leverage-the support group must utilize the tools and circumstances available to make their loved one choose treatment, because the alternative is less attractive. This is accomplished by using carrots and sticks: communicating to the addict the things that you will do for him if he goes to treatment, or that you are prepared to do to him or take away from him should he refuse. These carrots and sticks can include financial support, withdrawal of family contact, employment consequences, potential involvement of law enforcement, and civil commitment.
Under the guidance of the interventionist, the support group presents to the addict, in a safe and nurturing manner, their personal observations of the addict’s behavior and it’s impact on them, the rationale for treatment, and the reasons for why treatment is the only acceptable alternative. Sometimes the addict surrenders to the process quickly. Other times, the intervention is more difficult, and requires lengthy negotiations and persistence. The intervention ends only when the addicted person agrees to enter treatment.