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Intervention

An intervention is a process by which a professional interventionist works with a family and/or friends to confront the addicted individual with their behavior, let them know that they will no longer enable the addiction, and helps them to accept treatment for their addiction.  The best interventions are managed by a licensed or credentialed individual with a strong background in intervention who understands the powerful psychological elements of denial by both the addict and those impacted by the addict’s addiction.

The most commonly known type of intervention is the Johnson Intervention.  The interventionist must first do his research, interviewing family members or anyone else who might be close to the addict. The pre-intervention work is critical because it allows the professional to get a clear picture of the relationships within the addict’s circle and to prepare for any “surprises” during the intervention. In fact, quality pre-intervention work makes it much less likely there will be any surprises during the actual intervention.

Once a thorough pre-intervention process is completed, the date for the intervention itself is set. The interventionist guides the process and basically sets the ground rules. He or she will know if a family member may be vulnerable to manipulation, and prepares to handle that type of behavior during the pre-intervention work.  Those who have been close to the addict have themselves been compromised by the addiction: they have adjusted their lives, covered up the addict’s behavior, and even rescued the addict many times.  It is important that family members come to a consensus and work as a team so that the addict knows he can no longer divide and conquer.  Once the addict realizes that manipulation will not work, they may panic at first. If the intervention is done by someone with strong experience who has done thorough pre-intervention work, in most cases the addict capitulates to the new rules:  the family will no longer support the addiction, and will only support attempts at recovery.

Another style of intervention is the Invitational Intervention. It’s essentially exactly what it sounds like – you actually invite the addicted person to meet with the group.  This is not as commonly used because most addicts will want to avoid the prospect of all their family and friends getting together. This is because the addict will often compartmentalize. They essentially use each family member and friend differently,  capitalizing on their weaknesses or picking off those who are more likely to buckle to pleas and fall for promises of turning over a new leaf.  It’s a lot harder to divide and conquer, manipulate individual family members, and bargain with loved ones when they have shared information – all the cards are on the table and the addict can no longer play people off each other by limiting what each family member knows.

Families are often shocked to discover how little they knew about the addict’s overall behavior.  One family member was continually asked for money, while another let them crash on their floor. One family member might know about a DUI while another doesn’t.  When the family comes together in the pre-intervention, it is an eye-opening experience.  They often discover the situation is far worse than they thought.

An alcohol or drug intervention can be a highly effective way of getting a resistant person to accept treatment.  The interventionist will help the family choose an appropriate drug rehab for treatment, and if the family chooses, they will proceed with case management, following the addict’s treatment and making recommendations for aftercare.

The most typical scenario that indicates a family needs an intervention is if repeated attempts to convince the addict they need help fail.  As the family grows more frustrated, they will individually try things to get the person to accept treatment. One might stop giving cash; but if another family member then starts to give cash, the addict can continue using without interruption. The intervention stops this cycle by allowing the family to work with a professional to create a singular approach to addressing the addict’s behavior.  If everyone agrees to a new set of rules, they no longer as individuals inadvertently support the continued use of drugs.

Provided by Elements Behavioral Health
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