Are Interventions a Good Idea?

When a loved one’s life is being compromised because of drugs or alcohol it can make family members and friends feel helpless. The addictive behaviors of a person struggling with drugs or alcohol grow more and more alarming as well as unsettling as they drift further away.

Most addicts are very reluctant to admit they have a problem and are not ready or willing to face their addictions. At which point, family and friends’ concerns may become so heavy that they feel they need to step in or do something to intervene.

With the TV show “Intervention,” gaining in popularity and reach, many people may have only seen one take place from this perspective. For those who have never been involved in an intervention personally, we understand many questions arise around what can seem like a very daunting process.

Here’s what you need to know about drug and alcohol interventions to help determine if an intervention is a good idea or most appropriate for your family and circumstances.

What Is An Intervention?

A person dealing with an active addiction is most likely in denial about the severity of the problem and is disinclined to get help. An intervention is a gathering of family members, friends and concerned individuals in which they unexpectedly sit down with a person to help them see their addiction, admit they need help and encourage treatment.

These meetings are directed by a trained mental health professional and the goal is to help the person with a drug or alcohol problem to understand how their behavior is negatively affecting themselves and others. This is a chance for loved ones to express their concerns as well as present a coordinated offer for an addict to get help.

Are Interventions A Good Idea and Do They Work?

While many interventions are instrumental in nudging someone who is addicted into treatment, they are not always effective for everyone. It is important to take a look at all the aspects of your loved one’s situation to understand if an intervention is a good option as many factors can play a role into how one unfolds, which can never be accurately predicted. However, according to NCADD, “When done with a person who is trained and successfully experienced as an interventionist, over 90% of people make a commitment to get help.”

There is not much data available to support the effectiveness of interventions because the definition of effective can be very subjective. They do increase the likelihood that an addict will seek treatment, but the outcome of the intervention and/or treatment ultimately comes down to the addict’s commitment to getting clean and living in sobriety.

At the end of the day, forcing someone into a decision they don’t feel connected to may not always work. However, once in treatment a strong support group and access to proven recovery methods can definitely increase the odds that an addict will get better and sustain their recovery.

When Should Your Family Consider Having An Intervention?

People often think that you have to wait for a person who is chemically dependent to hit “rock bottom.” Please be aware of this myth and understand that there are options prior to this type of occurrence and waiting could actually result in death. Not only that, but there is a misconception that if prior attempts at recovery have failed that nothing else will work. In this case, an intervention may be a very viable last resort.

If a person’s life is in jeopardy due to an addiction, an intervention may be the only option you feel you have left. Often prior to an intervention, family members and friends will have already tried to speak, plead or even beg an addict to change or get help by expressing concerns on an individual level. When these attempts are unsuccessful, typically an intervention is a last-try effort for an addict that has consistently refused to get help.

How To Stage An Intervention

Planning an intervention is perhaps the most important piece of the process. A structured intervention and well thought out intervention plan can make or break your success probability.

It is important to call an intervention meeting with the family and friends who will want to be involved and with those who may have the greatest influence or impact.

Many intervention services are available where an interventionist can help assemble an intervention team as well as be present to facilitate the entire process. You should always have a licensed physician, therapist or interventionist involved in leading these efforts.

Prior to the intervention each person organizes their thoughts around how the addict’s behavior has affected them, what their pleas will be for them to get help and also what the consequences will be if they do not get treatment. It is important to have a “do what it takes” mindset as well as to be firmly attached to the end goal of recovery as the only option.

What Are The Risks?

Interventions can be very emotionally charged and can also come off as very threatening and scary to the person facing their addictions.

With this being said, their reaction may or may not always be favorable. There is always a chance that this feels as though the family and friends are ganging up on them which runs the risk of pushing them further away, fleeing or refusing help or treatment with extreme anger.

There is always a risk that your relationship can become damaged and you will have to exercise consequences about cutting them off, not offering any sort of enabling anymore and not assisting them with their habits.

How To Make An Intervention Most Effective

  • Make sure the intervention is scheduled at a time that the addict will not be under the influence and is not facing other life stressors such as the loss of a job, a breakup or death.
  • Be as specific as possible when outlining your feelings and consequences. Being concise will indicate the seriousness of the problem.
  • Do not yell at, shame or guilt-trip your addicted loved one.
  • Offer a very descriptive and detailed treatment plan that will help to answer or eliminate the addict’s objections such as insurance coverage, program details, location and the basis of the program such as a 12-step.
  • Be prepared to follow through with consequences so that the addict understands your relationship and the dynamics of it will change should they refuse treatment.

If you or a loved one is facing issues with addictions, contact us today to learn more about treatment options as well as to discuss intervention methods in further detail.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.