Forced into an Intervention – What Are Your Choices Now?

It all begins as a day just like any other. You get up, still a little hung over from the night before, but haven’t yet opened a beer, smoked a joint, popped a pill or shot up. Or, you come home from work all ready to get high in the quiet of your own place. Next thing you know, your family, a few friends, maybe even your boss are sitting in your living room along with some guy or gal you’ve never seen before. What the heck is everybody doing here, you wonder aloud? Somebody die?

The strange person welcomes you, invites you to sit down. You’re not liking this whole scenario one bit, but you sit anyway. There’s a kind of eerie calm in the room, except for your own jitters and uneasiness. Your mom, dad, brothers and sisters, your fishing buddy, the guy you work next to and your boss (god, your boss!) all have pads of paper or a folded letter in their laps. Some smile, a little anxiously, it seems to you. Your mom looks like she’s been crying. Your dad just looks stoic, like he’s having a tooth pulled. Whatever this is, it must be something really bad.

You want to get out of the room already, and all you’ve heard so far is the welcome by the stranger. What you really want, though, is a drink, a smoke, to do a line – to escape. You’re half out of your chair when the stranger introduces himself or herself and says they’re an interventionist. The purpose of this meeting is to encourage you to get help with your addiction. Everyone here wants to support you through the decision to go into treatment…

Oh, no, you’re not buying this. No way. You stand up, balling your fists. You’re in firm denial mode. “I don’t have a problem. I can quit anytime. I don’t need any help. I want you all to leave.”

But the stranger continues in an even, reassuring tone, saying that these are the people who love you and care about you. All they want is the best for you. They have something they’d like to say to you. Will you at least listen? Give them a chance to express what’s on their minds? That couldn’t hurt, could it?

No, you admit. You’ll listen, but you’re not going into treatment, period.

One by one, they start to read what’s written on their pieces of paper. Some of it’s pretty tough to hear and it tears your guts out. But you listen. Some of those gathered can’t contain themselves and break down sobbing, your mom among them. You can’t stand seeing her cry, but you hold yourself back from saying or doing anything. In fact, you feel as if you’re frozen. Maybe if they just get it over with, you can breathe. Once they’re done, they can all leave and you’ll be fine. You can almost taste the drink. You need the drink. It’s only a matter of time, now, since the last one is picking up their letter. But it’s your boss. He looks at you before he starts to read, and you feel a sinking in the pit of your gut that this time there might just be some serious consequences for your actions.

When he finishes, there’s dead silence in the room. Except for the throbbing in your own head that sounds like a drum beating. Now, what? The interventionist starts talking again, asking you if you heard what these people had to say. You nod, not saying anything. Then the statement comes: “We’re here to offer you a chance to start over. Beginning today, you can start your new life. Are you willing to take it?”

Now you do get up. You scream, maybe a few obscenities, maybe not, on account of your mom. You stride out of the room and go into the kitchen, looking for your bottle. Your dad comes after you. “Now, son, please come back into the living room. We’re not here to fight you. We love you. Will you please come back in?” After a few minutes, during which he won’t allow you to grab the bottle, you decide you’ll rejoin the group. “But I’m not going to any rehab!”

Back with the others, there’s more talk from the family members and friends, yada, yada, yada. Same as before. Why don’t they stop already? What seems like an eternity has only been about 45 minutes. Clearly nobody has any intention of leaving. You argue and promise you’ll quit on your own, that you don’t need to go someplace to have a bunch of strangers in your business.

“That hasn’t worked before, has it?” the interventionist asks. “How many times have you told yourself that?”

Got a point there. Still, you argue how you can’t afford to take the time off work. Oops, shouldn’t have said that. You remember how your boss said your work performance had suffered and how he wouldn’t tolerate it anymore unless you got help. Can’t afford it, you mumble. The interventionist chimes in that everything’s been taken care of. You don’t even hear half of what’s said next, something about insurance, sliding pay scale, scholarship or financial aid. The point is that it’s covered, more or less.

You run out of arguments. You’re suddenly very tired, wanting all this to go away like a bad dream. This isn’t anything you asked for, nothing you’d ever do on your own. Finally, with a voice that seems like it creeps up out of your shoes, you say you’ll do it.

You mom and dad clasp each other’s hand and then everybody jumps up and races toward you, shaking your hand, giving you a hug. All this fuss!

You didn’t want the intervention, but you got it anyway. In no time flat, you’re in a car being whisked away to a treatment center.

Everybody stands at the curb to wave good-bye. Now, it’s just you and the interventionist alone in the car with the driver. You may go over a few of the things that are going to happen next with the interventionist, but mostly you just sit alone with your thoughts. Most of those thoughts involve how and when you can get your next drink, smoke or fix.

What are your choices now that the intervention is over?

What You Do Next Decides Your Future

The above scenario may or may not fit your particular situation – or that of a loved one you’re planning to do an intervention for – but it is fairly typical. A person doesn’t have to want to go into treatment for it to be effective – although that’s the optimal mindset going into rehab. Sometimes it takes the combined encouragement and support of people who love and care about you to get you to do what you’d never do on your own. It just happened to be through an intervention. It doesn’t matter, therefore, if you agree with their motives or like what’s about to happen. It does matter what you do next. Here are several outcomes:

Of the three outcomes, which one do you think will be the most successful at allowing you to remain clean and sober? Did you know that 80 percent of those who only complete detox but fail to go on to treatment suffer a relapse? And, if you don’t even give detox a chance, what do you think the odds are for abstinence. You guessed it: practically zero.

When your loved ones invest the time and effort, obviously painful for all, to stage an intervention, it’s because they sincerely want you to make a clean sweep, to get your life back on track, to experience real love and happiness – maybe for the first time in many months or years or ever. Give yourself the gift of hope. Accept the treatment. Stick with it. Envision a future that has no limits to what you can achieve. It’s all out there waiting for you. Go for it.