Modern Approaches to Addiction Intervention and Rehabilitation

Modern behaviors towards addiction and rehabilitation have considerably changed during the last decade thanks to the multitude of images depicting substance abuse and behavioral disorders that are infiltrating this technological generation. The Internet, celebrity blogging, social networking, podcasts, video streaming, reality television programming, and ever-revolving tabloids have all become commonplace within the traditional American household.

Addiction and unstable behavior portrayed in such television shows such as TMZ, The Anna Nicole Smith Show, and Access Hollywood exploit celebrities’ erratic and unhealthy behaviors, leaving nothing private while boosting television ratings and simultaneously encouraging these celebrities’ popularity. Other shows like Obsessed, Intervention, and Celebrity Rehab attempt to deflate the celebutante sensationalism of such serious behavioral issues among celebrities and regular citizens alike by showing viewers the gravity of damage done to addicts’ personal, familial, and occupational identities. All these mediums make addiction and rehabilitation a familiar, more open topic among Americans, but it still may underscore the importance of dealing with addiction treatment properly.

More than 23 million Americans are believed to have an addiction disorder, yet only 10 percent of those receive treatment. Inspired by media examples, many people believe they can handle intervention on their own. Without proper research and preparation, intervention efforts for a friend or family member may be futile. Physicians and interventionists recommend against simply talking about a problem with a loved one, which does not constitute an intervention at all. Words alone may be dismissed in passing since most addicts will respond with denial or anger. Also, including friends or family members in an intervention who may bring negativity to the meeting—such as angry family members, abusive partners, or friends with addiction problems themselves—can affect the addict’s willingness to participate.

Addiction is not an individual disease, and family members and associates often allow the disease to progress through enabling. Family and friends may deny the truth in an effort to avoid confrontation or offending the individual. However, early intervention is the most effective method for achieving successful recovery. It is not necessary to wait for the addict to hit “rock bottom” and lose everything before intervening. It is also necessary for family members to help during addiction treatment therapy and by aiding positive changes to the individual’s lifestyle, aftercare, and potential relapse therapy.

A professional interventionist can help the family make proper preparations for an intervention, such as referring the family to an appropriate treatment program (like Alanon or Alateen), the right rehabilitation center for the addict, and procedures to take when conducting the actual intervention. An intervention requires weeks of planning in advance and should never be performed spontaneously. An interventionist can help the family make the right choices and prepare for both positive and negative reactions from the addict. Sometimes an elaborately planned approach is best where the interventionist and family transport the individual to treatment right away, while other times giving the addict the opportunity to implement some self-control is more suitable. The addict may not agree to treatment right away, but patience will pay off if the family remains strong, firm, and sincere. The coordination of an interventionist is also valuable if an addict with a serious behavioral disorder reacts poorly to the intervention. Appropriately managing behavioral health requires the collective effort of the entire family and is effectively guided by a trained, experienced interventionist.

The concept of intervention is not new, despite its dramatic upheaval in conventional media. Addiction treatment has been taking place for centuries, but became more formalized around the time of Jung and Freud. Treatment programs became more accessible with the introduction of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1937, and coordinated intervention methods became more established by the Johnson Institute in 1966. Today, intervention and rehabilitation are considered essential to mental and behavioral health, and physicians are now trained to deal with addiction treatment or intervention at some level.

Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or religion, and intervention should be considered for any person suffering from addiction to restore his or her emotional and physical health. Furthermore, addiction involves any substance from alcohol to street drugs to prescription medications or behaviors like gambling or sex. Intervention and rehabilitation can effectively treat any addiction disorder before, during, and after treatment. It is most important to continue progress after rehabilitation through the support of loved ones, professional counseling and/or support groups, and an encouraging home environment.

As difficult as dealing with an addiction can be, realistically obtaining proper addiction treatment can be a financial obstacle for many families. Some families may not have health insurance to help cover the costs for an interventionist, rehabilitation, and aftercare counseling. Some insurance plans do not fully cover addiction recovery treatments, particularly an intervention. Choosing to conduct an intervention may not even seem financially feasible for certain families. Families who are ready to intervene should expect to perform extensive research on the right intervention program which involves “interventionist shopping.” Interventionists can cost anywhere from $800 to $25,000, depending on how extensive their involvement is in the recovery process. Interventionists may assist families for hours on end or over a period of several months. Again, the earlier the intervention, the easier the addiction recovery process, the more likely the individual will have a successful recovery, and the more financially viable the costs. Waiting to treat addiction further ignores the severity of the individual’s and the family’s safety and health.

An interventionist should either be a psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor), or a CASAC (Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor). Be aware of your interventionist’s background, experience, and success rate. Websites such as or provide great resources to help loved ones choose successful interventionists and appropriate treatment methods for their family situation.