What Happens in an Intervention?

For many families, an intervention is a last resort. If you have a loved one that is an alcoholic or drug addict and either can’t – or won’t – seek help on their own, an intervention is probably the only hope you have. The fact that you’re even considering an intervention shows just how desperate your situation has become.

The good news is: an intervention will help bring about change. How much change occurs will depend on a number of factors.

What Is An Intervention?

Simply put, an intervention for alcohol and substance abuse is a gathering of a professional interventionist and concerned family and friends who are committed to confronting an individual whose addictive lifestyle is wreaking havoc on him and those who love him. There are simple interventions, conducted by family alone, crisis interventions, classical and family systems interventions.

In the cases of alcoholism, the classical intervention has been proven successful over the past 30 years and is the most widely used. Of course, variations occur, and the methods are a bit different depending on the interventionist and the treatment facility. The goal of the intervention is to get the addict into treatment – and soon.

How Do You Arrange For An Intervention?

Concerned family members usually contact an alcohol and drug treatment center. They answer questions posed by the staff and a clinical assessment is made whether or not an intervention is necessary. If it is, you are referred to an interventionist who will handle the intervention. Since the goal is to get the addict into treatment, during the meeting with the treatment center, all these arrangements can be made ahead of time, including insurance, so that at the conclusion of the intervention, if the addict is willing to accept treatment, he can be immediately transported to the treatment facility.

What Happens Next?

The interventionist will meet with the concerned family members, probably several times. There will be discussion of what you need to do, and a schedule prepared. You will need to arrange for the gathering of family, friends, possibly clergy, even co-workers, to participate in the intervention itself.

You need to be organized and you need a plan. This is the goal of your pre-meeting with the interventionist. Each participant in the intervention will be required to discuss how the addict has impacted their lives. They will be asked to document this impact on paper. This will be read during the intervention. The interventionist then discusses the plan and what each participant needs to do and to expect during the intervention.

The individual statements are rehearsed at the pre-meeting. It’s important that everyone acts as a team, firm in their commitment to help the addict.

Intervention Day: What Happens

You meet at a pre-determined location for about an hour or so – just long enough to get through the agenda and hopefully achieve the goal: having the addict agree to go into treatment.

According to the plan the interventionist has created, each participant reads their statement in succession. The addict may yell, scream, deny everything and argue vehemently. This is to be expected. After all, you are threatening their addictive existence, and they are naturally going to be upset about that.

Any conflicts that arise, the interventionist will handle. That’s what he is trained to do.

You do need to be extremely patient. It isn’t the addict’s fault that they are reacting this way. While they are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, they are not able to think rationally. They don’t see the destruction their way of life has wreaked on relationships with family and friends. They can’t. But the intervention is a way to break through this wall of denial. In fact, the interventionist is trained to chip away at the addict’s resistance.

If the addict is willing to accept treatment, and the arrangements have already been made, the individual is then transported immediately to the treatment center.

The interventionist reports to the treatment center the results of the intervention. This gives the treatment facility a head-start on the patient’s personalized treatment program.

Will Intervention Be Enough?

Intervention, by itself, is only the first step in the recovery process. The substance abuser needs to come out of denial and make a commitment to get help. The fact that you’ve arranged for an intervention for your loved one is a testament of how much you care for him.

Studies show an intervention success rate of 90 to 95 percent for drug and alcohol addiction – but this is dependent on the interventionist and the commitment of family and friends to confront the addict.

Remember that the addict isn’t the only one who’s affected. Even after the individual undergoes treatment, follow-up counseling and support group meetings are required. In addition, family counseling, and continued support for the family through support groups such as Al-Anon, even church-affiliated support groups, can help reinforce positive messages and alleviate stress along the way.