What Really Happens at an Intervention?

The short answer is that yes, they do.  When a good interventionist works in tandem with the addict’s family and friends, they can be very successful in convincing the addict that they need help and treatment.

It’s important to note however that you will find various facilities and interventionists who quote statistics about how successful they are, but you can’t really count on those statistics.  The problem is that there is no standard rule for what constitutes a “success”.  Some may count it as a success only when the addict immediately goes into treatment.  Others may consider it a success if the addict stays for the entire intervention without leaving.

What Happens

In most cases, the family and friends of the addict will meet with a professional interventionist several times to discuss and prepare for the intervention.

The loved ones usually have many uncomfortable feelings during this time such as fear, anxiety and apprehension.  Involving a professional makes it more likely that the right message will be sent to the addict, hopefully making it more likely that they will recognize the depth of their problem and accept help.

There are usually 2 – 3 informal meetings between the family/friends and the interventionist to discuss the overall topic of addiction as well as the details regarding the intervention they are planning for their loved one.   It is important that these sessions are informal because it can help put the loved ones at ease and help their confidence.

During these meetings everyone will work together to write letters, establish boundaries, set consequences and they may even rehearse the event so everyone is comfortable with what they will be asked to do.

When everyone feels properly prepared, the intervention is scheduled.  This can occur anywhere and anytime.

The interventionist will lead the meeting to ensure that the tone of the intervention remains calm and helpful.  Too often, family members and the addict get too confrontational and the result usually isn’t positive.

It is critical for the addict to understand that the loved ones are coming from a place of love and concern.  When the addict realizes what is happening, they sometimes become combative which makes it nearly impossible for the family members to stay calm.

As a trained professional, an interventionist helps reduce the chance of this happening.  Since they met with the loved ones ahead of time, they should also have a good understanding of the types of things each person wants to share.  Again, having a professional involved will make it easier for everyone to play their pre-defined role and to say what they intended to say.

In some cases letters are also read from people who could not attend the intervention, usually due to geographic limitations.

The Goal

The basic goal of the intervention is to show the addict how concerned everyone is about their well being, how much pain they are causing their loved ones and help them come to the realization that they have a serious problem and that they need help.

In many cases, acceptance into a treatment facility is pre-arranged and approved.  The hope is that the addict will agree that they need help and that they will go directly into treatment.

However, even if the addict doesn’t immediately accept their situation, it doesn’t mean the intervention was a failure.  Sometimes the addict will need to spend time on their own thinking about the things that were said.  They may agree to go to treatment in a few days or even a few weeks.

Unfortunately, some won’t agree to accept treatment at all as a result of the intervention.  However, your intervention will still be an important stepping stone for them.

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