Intervention and How It Works

What is intervention?

An intervention is defined as anything that involves intervening in the behavior of an individual to affect change in that person’s behavior. Interventions can be for anything but are most commonly associated with drug and alcohol abuse. The loved ones of an addict will see their destructive behavior and wish to intervene as a way to help. Intervention usually includes an ultimatum to the addict, that they need to seek treatment or their loved ones will stop supporting them. Sometimes a professional interventionist holds the intervention and guides the group as they confront the addict.

What happens during an intervention?

A person or group of people come together for intervention and confront the addict to persuade them to seek rehabilitation treatment for their substance abuse. Interventions are usually held by close friends and family members, or can even just be one person. Sometimes coworkers are even involved, and sometimes a professional is called in to mediate the intervention.

Interventions should be planned in advance to achieve the best possible outcome for the person suffering from addiction. Whoever is going to be present during the intervention should meet ahead of time to discuss and agree upon what will happen. Interventions often have a leader, but this is not necessary. The group will figure out what to say and most likely an ultimatum to give the addict to encourage them to seek professional treatment. It is best if the group members write down a list or letter of what they want to say to the addict during the intervention. Emotions will most likely run high during the intervention, so having thoughts down on paper will help the group members address the issues properly. Writing it down and presenting it also shows the addict the thought and planning that went into the intervention, and that it should be taken seriously.

During the intervention, each group member should discuss how the addict’s substance abuse has affected them personally. They should also address how substance abuse has affected the addict’s own life, and ultimately tell the person they want them to get professional help. An intervention will usually involve defining boundaries between the person and the group (such as explaining they will not help the addict financially anymore, for example), and often an ultimatum that the person must seek treatment or they will lose the support of the group. This may seem harsh, but it is probable that there has been some enabling done by members of the group, and this ultimatum is the best way to help the addict.

It is typically best not to warn the addict of the intervention. The group or designated individual will want to establish a meeting time and place for the addict to join them, where they will all present their letters or what they want to say to the addict. The idea is to intentionally catch the addict off guard so they will not have prepared excuses or defenses.