An intervention is an orchestrated attempt – often by friends and family – to encourage, convince, or force an individual to seek professional help with a serious issue or crisis, like an addiction or some kind of traumatic event, behavior, or relationship.
The term intervention is most often used when the traumatic event involves drug addiction, substance abuse, and alcoholism. Intervention can also refer to the act of using a similar technique within a therapy session, typically known as cognitive interventions.
Interventions have been used to address serious personal problems, including, but not limited to, alcoholism, drug abuse,compulsive gambling, compulsive eating and other eating disorders, self harm behaviors like cutting and being the victim of physical and emotional abuse.
Addiction intervention services aim to help the family of an addict convince their loved one of the damage their addictive behavior is causing and that outside help is necessary to address the addiction. It can be painful to watch addiction destroy a family member or friend’s life. Some addicts cling to the belief that they will be able to overcome their addiction on their own, when they decide the time is right – which when faced with withdrawal symptoms, the “right time” may never occur. Other addicts may not even recognize how destructive their behavior can be, and even when facing legal ramifications, like criminal charges or prison sentences, may still be resistant to treatment and recovering. Sadly, this is often an unrealistic expectation.
When an addict continues to abuse drugs or alcohol, or engage in addictive behavior, often making and breaking promises to get clean or stop, and continues to spiral into low self-esteem, depression and further abuse. In order to save a loved one’s life, an intervention can often necessary.
Getting high can feel really good. It can provide an escape from the mundane, stressful or painful realities of life. Drug use, especially drinking, can also carry a large social component. So, it should come as no surprise that substance abuse can be central to the lives of drug or alcohol addicts, with their primary concern often being when and how they can get high next.
Soft addictions or behavioral addictions, such as hoarding and eating disorders, can take center stage in an addict’s life, often overshadowing everything that would normally be of value to the addict.
It is critical to seek the help of an interventionist before the spiral of addiction progresses to this stage. While there is always the hope of sobriety, the situation can grow significantly more serious, from an emotional, social, financial, mental and physical health perspective. The help of an interventionist may literally mean the difference between life and death for a resistant addict. If you think you or a loved one may require or benefit from the assistance of an interventionist, we highly encourage you to call us and speak with a REHBS agent immediately.
REHBS has access to a vast network of professional interventionists all over the globe, and we can put you in touch with one who can help improve your situation.
People often seek out the aid of interventionists for their loved ones when their own attempts to address the problem fail, or they are unable to initiate the conversation to begin with. They may feel they have the same conversation repeatedly but the behavior ultimately remains the same. Addicts will often deny their addiction, saying it is not their problem and they don’t need any help. Talking to an addict about the problem and convincing them to seek treatment are rarely easy tasks. Many people find they need intervention services to address the issue effectively.
Interventionists are experts in how to address an addict and ultimately persuade them to seek treatment. They are able to run an intervention that is organized and productive, navigating tricky waters when an addict responds in a defensive or even violent manner. An interventionist will keep the event on track, and even escort the addict to treatment following the intervention.
- Determine the addict’s history of addiction
- Make an analysis based on the provided information
- Develop strategies for an effective event
Family and friends often are who make up the intervention team. If you’re unsure who should be involved in the intervention, you can discuss potential team members with the interventionist. As a general rule, people who are important to the addict’s life — such as spouses or romantic partners, family members, close friends and even colleagues — are appropriate choices. Children should only be involved if they are old enough to understand the event and desire to participate. It is not recommended that anyone who has addiction issues of their own participate, nor should anyone who has a negative relationship with the addict, as personal issues should not be the focus of the intervention.
There are many different approaches to interventions, and it’s important to choose one that you feel would be most effective for your loved one. A professional interventionist can help you with this process. Interventions are generally either direct, typically involving a confrontational meeting with an individual in question, or indirect, involving work with a co-dependent family to encourage them to be more effective in helping the individual.
- The Johnson Model: The use of interventions originated in the 1960s with Dr. Vernon Johnson and was later taught at the Johnson Institute. This type of intervention involves family and friends confronting the addict about their behavior. The intervention team members make it clear that they fully support the addict in their recovery; however, consequences are spelled out should the addict choose to not seek treatment. These consequences may include no longer providing the addict with housing or money. It’s important for team members to enforce the consequences if the addict does not seek treatment. When most people think of an intervention, they tend to imagine something similar to the Johnson Model. Some addicts feel great shame and anger at being confronted in this manner and there are some pockets of thought within the substance abuse treatment and intervention industry that the uninformed alcohol or drug dependent person can be negatively affected by the so-called “ambush” inherent to the Johnson Model of direct intervention. However, beyond anecdotal evidence, no notable scientific study has confirm the ambush theory. That said, while the Johnson Intervention Model is effective in many cases of substance, it doesn’t work for everyone and in some instances, may not be the most effective way to approach an addict.
- The Family Systemic Model: This approach emphasizes that the entire family heals from an addiction as a whole and they are directly involved with treatment. The ultimate goal of the Family Systemic Model is the entire family will become motivated to seek treatment for themselves and to teach them foster more healthy relationships, guiding them towards encouragement, being supportive, and communicating more effectively. This type of intervention works better for those who don’t respond to confrontation well. Rather than presenting the addict with consequences if they don’t seek treatment, this model focuses on positive encouragement. Team members encourage the addict to choose positive behaviors, such as sobriety, rather than turning to negative behaviors, like drinking or using.
- The Invitational Model (ARISE): Whereas the Johnson Model employs an element of surprise on the addict, the Invitational Model does the opposite. The Invitational Intervention model attempts to break the cycle of repeated disappointment and failure without the blame, shame, or guilt that typically accompanies drug and alcohol addiction. It brings healing to family, friends and co-workers who come together to build a solid recovery network. As the entire network is involved, every decision is made by the majority. There is no opportunity for the addicted individual to pressure anyone “one-on-one” which would let addiction win. The name for the model is somewhat literal, during the intervention the addict is invited to a meeting with an interventionist but given all the information on what the meeting will entail. With this information, the addict can then decide if they wish to attend. Even if the addict doesn’t come to the meeting, team members still meet with the interventionist to discuss what to do next. The Invitational Intervention Model relies heavily on having the family as a whole enter a phase of recovery. This can help take the focus off the addicted individual and notes the need for the entire family unit to change in an effort for everyone who is involved to get healthy.
- The Field Model: This type of intervention combines aspects of the Invitational Model and the Johnson Model. Ultimately, it’s a flexible format that is adapted to the situation at hand. Many decisions in this model are made “in the field,” allowing interventionists to choose what form of intervention, therapy or counseling is best for the individual addict at that particular moment.
There are some types of interventions that don’t fit any specific model. A professional interventionist can assess the situation and then opt for a strategy that will work best. Since the ultimate goal is for your loved one to seek treatment, it’s important to approach them in the best possible way.
It’s not uncommon for family members to be the ones who first contact an interventionist to initiate an event. Since family members or friends see the addict on a day-to-day basis, they tend to be very familiar with the damage the toll addiction is taking on that person’s life. These types of interventions are often held at the family home, allowing the benefit of the addict feeling comfortable during the process. Though some families choose to hold interventions in neutral locations, such as an unused office space, church or at a healthcare center. A professional interventionist can help you determine the best location for your specific circumstances.
There are various approaches to family intervention; however, it is common for those attending to read letters aloud to the addict. These letters are written before the confrontation under the guidance of the interventionist detailing exactly how the addicts behavior has had a negative, hurtful or destructive impact on their life or how their actions have strained their relationship. In some situations, these letters may be revised based on feedback from the rest of the attending family and friends. During the intervention, it is important to stress that the intervention is only occurring because all those attending love and support the addict, and want to see them live a healthy life.
Workplace interventions take place when a boss or coworker notices persistent addiction issues affecting a member of their staff. Severe addicts may have trouble maintaining their jobs or employment status, showing up late or missing work entirely due to their addiction issues or side effects of their particular form of substance abuse, such as hangovers, or prison and hospital stays. Since addiction often takes priority in an addict’s life, other responsibilities, such as work tasks, tend to take a backseat to the addiction.
When those at their employment can no longer ignore their colleague’s addiction, they may choose to stage an intervention. Professional interventionists have experience in conducting workplace and job site interventions, which often have a different dynamic than family interventions. In a workplace intervention, it is important to only involve those coworkers who are close to the addict. Having casual acquaintances at the intervention can often do more harm than good.
As interventions often take a good amount of time, it’s advisable to hold them in a location where privacy can be assured. Reserving a conference room for the entire day can work well in many office environments.
In the United States, workplaces often use the screening and brief intervention (SBI) strategy to identify alcoholism and apply intervention techniques. This method involves the development of a workplace management plan and contains guidelines on how to perform an intervention. All workplace interventions should include efforts to educate the addict about the dangers associated with their behavior, and offer clear steps they can take to seek treatment after the intervention.
If you’d like help staging an intervention, please call REHBS. Our agents can connect you with an experienced and professional interventionist in your area that can help you with the process from start to finish.
Remember, for your friends and family struggling with addiction, an intervention may literally mean the difference between life and death.