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Addiction Intervention

Addiction intervention becomes a family's last resort when dealng with a loved one addicted to drugs and alcohol who will not agree to get help.  Drug and alcohol addiction often come with denial on behalf of the addict or alcoholic.  Denial is a part of the disease of addiction and tells the addict that he or she does not have a problem and is only doing what they need to be okay on a daily basis.  Addiction intervention is used as a last resort when no amount of prior begging has worked to get the addict into treatment.  Professional interventionists are called in for the addiction intervention and despite desperate pleading in the past, addiction interventions have a tendency to be very successful. Read here about interventions, interventionissts and how the process works.

Addiction Intervention and Interventionists



"However, lifestyle intervention requires discipline with a tangible end result that is within reach. It requires personal resolve, a lifelong commitment." - Tim Holden


Addiction intervention

Addiction intervention is a pre-planned attempt by one or many people (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors) to get the addict to seek professional interventionaddiction treatment, enter a drug rehab, alcohol rehabilitation, eating disorder, mental health, or dual-diagnosis treatment center.  Often interventions are held by family members and close friends and take place when other, more subtle approaches to getting help have been unsuccessful. Generally, there are two types of intervention - informal and formal.

Informal Intervention

An informal intervention is simply a conversation you might have with the person you are concerned about and sharing some of your observations, asking questions, and suggesting that (s)he seek qualified addiction treatment.  Many informal interventions take place when a concerned friend, family member, or co-worker becomes concerned about an addict and does not want to include others at that time from fear of undesired tension between the addict and others. Informal interventions are a good way for a friend or co-worker to privately discuss their concerns with the addict without involving others.  An informal intervention is most likely to have positive effects if it is well planned out in advance and takes place in a comfotable place when the addict is calm and sober.

Tips for an informal intervention

    *Get the facts about addiction and alcoholism
    *Get help for yourself - talk to someone about your concerns before the intervention
    *Pick the right time and place (when the addict is sober and in a calming, private place)
    *Plan what you're going to say & mentally prepare yourself for the intervention
    *Convey your affection and respect to that addict
    *Express your concern
    *Use specific examples of how addiction has effected the addict's life
    *Offer help - have multiple options for fidning treatment help available
    *Set Limits so you will no longer be in an awkward or enabling position
    *Don't expect miracles if your intervention doesn't seem to have worked. Each expression of concern chips away at denial, eventually leading to the point at which the addict is no longer able to ignore the truth 

Formal Intervention


A formal intervention involves a trained professional interventionist, acting as a facilitator and mediator, who assists with a structured, pre-planned conversation between the support group and the addicted person during the intervention.  This involves bringing together a group of people with the addict to explore how his or her addiction has affected all of their lives. The formal intervention is normally used when the person has repeatedly refused to get help.  The intervention is designed to get the person to take concrete steps, address their addiction issues, and to get his or her agreement to enter an addiction treatment program immediately (i.e. go for an evaluation, attend counseling, enter out-patient, in-patient, or a residential addiction treatment center).

Interventions have been used to address serious personal problems, including, but not limited to, drug abuse, alcoholism, compulsive eating and other eating disorders, sex addiction, self-mutilation, "workaholism", tobacco smoking, depression, and many other types of mental health issues. Interventions have also been conducted due to personal habits not generally considered harmful, such as video game addiction, excessive television viewing, and excessive internet use.

Formal interventions are either direct, typically involving a confrontative (carefrontative) meeting with the alcohol or other drug dependent person (the most typical type of intervention) or indirect, involving work with a co-dependent family to educate them to be more effective in helping the addicted individual.  In the same sense, direct interventions tend to be a form of short-term therapy aimed at getting the addicted person into a drug rehab, alcohol rehabilitation, or addiction treatment center program, whereas indirect interventions are more of a long-term therapy, directed at changing the co-dependent family system.

The goal of a formal, direct intervention is to get the person to agree to get help (attend a treatment center program) immediately. Just promising to stop is not an acceptable outcome. Participants must clearly spell out the consequences each will impose if the person refuses treatment. These types of ultimatums can, and often do, have life-shattering implications, which is why including a professional interventionist is so important.

Tips for a formal intervention

Goal: to have the person begin treatment immediately.

    * Enlist a professional to help plan the intervention.
    * Bring together the people most concerned and who have clout with the person ( no children).
    * Have a plan - decide who is going to say what.
    * Rehearse what you are going to say, and say it in a concerned, caring, constructive way.
    * Tell the person that you care about him or her, but explain what you are concerned about (use examples)
    * Make all arrangements for the person to begin treatment immediately following the intervention.
    * Know the insurance details and which hospital or treatment center.
    * Decide what consequences you're prepared to follow through with if the person refuses addiction treatment.
    * Be prepared to follow through with these consequences if treatment is refused.
    * Get a commitment from the person that they're willing to get help and get them there immediately.

Addiction interventionist

  An interventionist is usually a licensed or certified professional who assists in planning, mediating, and facilitating an intervention in a neutral, calm, constructive, and structured conversational process.  The interventionist assists the group in learning how to express their concern in a caring and constructive way. The professional educates the group about what to expect during the intervention and afterwards, and how they can present their comments to avoid blaming, and to increase the chance that their message will be heard and the proposed treatment accepted.  Then, the group of concerned individuals and the interventionist meet with the addict for the conversation. They express caring and concern, presenting facts about the impact that the addiction has had on them. The group's message is that they are unwilling to continue to overlook the damage that the addiction is having on the person, and the impact the addiction is having on each individual in the group. The group's presentation prompts the person to admit that an addiction does, in fact, exist and that it is causing a multitude of other issues and problems that must be faced.

Interventions have been used to address serious personal problems, including, but not limited to, drug abuse, alcoholism, compulsive eating and other eating disorders, sex addiction, self-mutilation, "workaholism", tobacco smoking, depression, and many other types of mental health issues. Interventions have also been conducted due to personal habits not generally considered harmful, such as video game addiction, excessive television viewing, and excessive internet use.

Formal interventions are either direct, typically involving a confrontative (carefrontative) meeting with the alcohol or other drug dependent person (the most typical type of intervention) or indirect, involving work with a co-dependent family to educate them to be more effective in helping the addicted individual.  In the same sense, direct interventions tend to be a form of short-term therapy aimed at getting the addicted person into a drug rehab, alcohol rehabilitation, or addiction treatment center program, whereas indirect interventions are more of a long-term therapy, directed at changing the co-dependent family system.

The goal of a formal, direct intervention is to get the person to agree to get help (attend a treatment center program) immediately. Just promising to stop is not an acceptable outcome. Participants must clearly spell out the consequences each will impose if the person refuses treatment. These types of ultimatums can, and often do, have life-shattering implications, which is why including a professional interventionist is so important. 

Carefrontation versus Confrontation

"Throughout the past decade, professionals in the field of chemical dependency have developed the clinical framework for successful interventions, which are presented in the spirit of love, care and concern. This model of intervention is many times referred to as “carefrontation versus confrontation.” This strategy calls for everyone on the intervention team to speak from the “I” perspective and not the “You” perspective. It assigns any negative behaviors discussed throughout the intervention process to the disease and not the person. In many instances, upon meeting the identified patient at the crucial start of the intervention, the term intervention is not even used to describe the process. This is due to the aforementioned negative stereotypes the word intervention may have associated with it. Many times it is described as a family meeting or family consultation. Another key byproduct in using this caring approach is that it assists the patient in positively preparing themselves psychologically for the treatment process ahead. It also creates a safe and supportive environment for the start of the healing process for all intervention team members. This process gives family members a head start towards participation in the family component of the treatment program. This is achieved through opening up healthy communications for the entire family system and establishing a solid foundation through educating everyone involved. In some instances, using this new model of intervention, the interventionist will stay involved well after the point of admission into the treatment program. This process is called co-case management and positions the interventionist as a liaison between the treatment center, the family, and the patient."  The Changing Face of Intervention - by James Fearing, Ph.D., CCDP, President and CEO, National Counseling Intervention Services (NCIS), Incorporated.

Intervention, by it's very nature, is a life-changing event for all involved, hopefully for the better, and can save the life of the addicted individual.   Drug and alcohol addiction, in particular, are considered diseases, not a lack of personal character or strength of will on the part of the addicted individual, and in the majority of cases the impact on the brain is long-lasting or even permanent.  There is no cure for addiction.  Rather, it becomes a life-long process, often moment to moment, day by day, of self-management using the methods, skills, and knowledge learned during addiction treatment, and developing a network of support of friends, family, and loved ones.  Intervention, according to recent research, is as equally successful in getting addicted individuals into and through a drug rehab, alcohol rehabilitation, eating disorder, mental health, or dual-diagnosis treatment center program as addicted individuals who voluntarily choose to seek help on their own.

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