What is an Intervention?

Intervention is not a single event, but a structured and controlled process carried out by concerned family members, friends or co-workers and an intervention professional

Intervention begins by assessing the current situation of the addict and giving professional guidance and information to those who will be involved. It culminates in the “intervention meeting” which is where those who are involved meet with the addicted person to discuss their worries and thoughts.

The aim of this meeting is to convince the addict to accept that they have a problem which they need assistance with and that they need to seek an appropriate form of treatment in order to address.

What An Intervention Is Not!

An intervention is not, and should never be used as:

  • A chance for friends and family members to voice their anger and frustration with the addicted person
  • A method of emotionally blackmailing the addicted person into a rehab clinic or treatment centre
  • A one-off shouting match or emotional outburst with no prior thought, plan of action or professional assistance

Starting An Intervention

I provide a free telephone consultation service offering support and guidance on the intervention process , as well as recommendations and advice on choosing the correct type of intervention to ensure that your intervention achieves its goals, whether it is just acknowledging a problem or beginning the path to addiction treatment

When To Stage An Intervention

Intervention can be a very effective tool to persuade an addicted friend or family member to enter rehabilitation or otherwise seek addiction treatment .

Many families struggle for a long time, sometimes years, to try to convince their loved one to seek help for their problems. Common tactics include bargaining, emotional blackmail or unrealistic threats or promises.

Interventions often help to break the self destructive cycle of addiction by forcing the addict to accept that they have a problem, thereby encouraging them to seek help and treatment to become healthy again.

Addiction As Taboo

It is sometimes said that a family who has someone suffering from an addiction is like sitting around a room with an elephant in the middle of it. Everyone is happy to talk around the elephant , over the elephant or even through the elephant , but nobody is willing to say anything about the fact that there is a elephant in the room!

This is a kind of taboo, event within the family which “just aren’t spoken about” since they happened. In cases like these an addiction intervention often acts as a much-needed catharsis. It often brings up some embarrassing or frustrating past incidents for the family and the addict, but ultimately will open up true communication in the family which is healthy for everyone.

By allowing everyone to speak openly and calmly about their feelings, both past and present, the loved ones of the addict can combine their pressures to encourage the addict to recognise their problem and acknowledge that they need help.

Types of Addiction Intervention

Addiction interventions are a chance for the loved ones of someone who is addicted to express their concerns and help the addict realise that there is a need for help. Many addicts are unable to see their own problems so are unlikely to ask for help independently.

There are various types of addiction interventions which apply in different situations and can be used for different needs, but remember none of these should be attempted without an intervention professional.

Family Intervention

As the name suggests, this is normally held by the immediate and extended family of the addicted person. Everyone is given a chance to talk openly and calmly about how the addicted individual’s behaviour affects them and how they are worried about their family member. The family then tries to convince the addict to seek help, possibly by being admitted into an addiction treatment centre.

Teenage Intervention

Sadly, teenagers sometimes abuse drugs or alcohol, or exhibit repeated self-destructive behaviour which can become an addiction. Those in their teens, addicts or not, tend to be naturally more rebellious than older people and so a highly diplomatic and tactful approach is needed to ensure that the intervention does not become conflicted. It is best to seek out an intervention professional who is a specialist in teenage addiction problems.

Workplace Intervention

It is not unheard of for people to arrange an intervention for an addicted colleagues in a workplace or office environment. This needs to be handled extremely carefully and only by those whom the addicted person is friendly with and respects, or it can in fact exacerbate the problem.

Emergency Intervention

Emergency addiction interventions are held when there seems to be a very real and immediate danger to the addicted person. If family and friends see someone they care about who is at extremely high risk it is not unheard of for an emergency intervention to be called for at very short notice.

This can sometimes involve getting the addict admitted rapidly to a detox (detoxification) centre under close medical supervision before moving on to less intensive addiction treatments.

Always remember that any intervention requires professional advice and guidance, and should not be undertaken lightly or with poor planning. Contact me today for help in planning an intervention. I can support you with an intervention for someone you care about before it is too late.

Intervention: History and Background

Vernon E. Johnson is perhaps the original and best known specialist in the field of addiction and alcohol Interventions.
Johnson refused to believe that alcoholic or addict was required to hit a rock bottom in order to access effective treatment. Johnson had witnessed how can willing clients could be coerced into accepting treatment through a legal system with effective ultimatum, and that evidence proved the success rates were the same for those with access the same treatment from other referring methods.

Vernon E. Johnson explored a concept of Family Intervention, which he suggested could intervene with untreated alcoholism earlier as opposed to later by way of an effective therapeutic model. He argued that if a family of well-prepared concerned others were to approach an alcoholic/addict they could bring forward a rock bottom experience alongside the offer of effective treatment.

A Johnson Intervention is based around some key concepts.

  1. Preparation is paramount. Every detail must be planned.
  2. An effective group must learn about the concept of addiction is an illness, a condition.
  3. The psychology of addiction must be learned, understood and worked with, not against.
  4. The language of Love and dignity is needed to ensure a poorly person will feel safe enough to accept treatment.
  5. A clear consequence of removing the enabling concurrently with an offer of treatment.

Intervention requires preparation, and it is apparent that there are several key components. Most of all the process must rely on dignity afforded to a poorly person. The concept that addiction/alcoholism is a diagnosable illness that has a predetermined set of criteria, a predictable process, and effective treatment is often information unavailable to many in our society, even today. Therefore it is important that the intervention group become knowledgeable and accepting that we are indeed dealing with untreated addiction, be it addiction to alcohol or any other behavioural or chemical dependency. It is also important that the concerned others that form the family intervention group learn of the specific psychological and emotional syndrome that affects those who are in active illness. Often best seen as the symptom of denial, Johnson proved that our approach to the individual will be ineffective unless the intervention group acknowledge the symptoms of euphoric recall, repression, and blackout.

Against the background of the above knowledge having been learned and accepted then the group is in a position to make an approach to the poorly person. This approach will always take the form of a script/letter that has been well-prepared, rehearsed, and is judged to be appropriate by the whole group. Most interventions are successful with the reading of this prepared letter when it is a part of many letters delivered in a respectful way. Johnson also was aware that there should be a removal of the enabling elements from the family, and that the ultimatum to the individual who is being offered treatment should be based on the family’s active recovery which would involve no longer enabling the symptoms of untreated alcoholism or addiction.

As an addiction specialist Dave Mulvaney knows that untreated alcoholism/addiction is unnecessary. One of the forms of a structured family intervention is known as the “Johnson intervention”. Over the years there have been other developments and refinements of the process. Dave has watched with dismay many a family live with untreated addiction, noticing how the whole family would progressively distort its values and behaviours in line with an individuals use of alcohol or drugs, gambling or other behavioural dependencies. So many family members or friends make an enquiry by way of their GP, or directly to private treatment centres or Internet referral agent. So often, these excellent services are unable to help as the individual concerned is not the one making the approach.

The Family System Approach

An addict’s dangerous and deadly behaviors not only affect themselves but they also affect the family members around them. Some of the side effects of an addiction can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Depression
  2. Aggression
  3. Weight Loss/Gain
  4. Suicidal
  5. Impulsiveness
  6. Manic behavior

Did you know, though, that many of these side effects not only affect the addict but also their family members and loved ones? It is completely true. Take this situation as an example.
A wife has a husband who is an alcoholic. He comes home late every day drunk and rarely eats dinner or spends quality time with their children. This has been going on for a year and it is starting to show through the wife’s actions. No longer is she sociable with friends or outgoing. Instead of making her kids a priority, she is more concerned with herself and how awful she feels. The wife is depressed because of her husband’s alcoholic addictions. This example is exactly why there is a Family Systemic Model.

A Family System Approach is a way that an entire family can truly heal from an addiction as a whole if the family is involved with the treatment. The ultimate goal of the Family System Approach is the entire family will become motivated to seek treatment for themselves and to teach them the following healthy traits:

  1. Communicating in a healthy way
  2. Support
  3. Encouragement

Regular Intervention Vs The Family System Approach

There are five basic points of the Family System Approach , which takes a regular intervention and gives a twist, focusing on the entire family along with the addict. A normal intervention has five points that basically describe what goes on. These five points include:

  1. All meetings prior to the intervention only involve the family members. The addict is not told about the intervention.
  2. The intervention occurs only once – this is strictly for effectiveness.
  3. An Intervention occurs in a controlled environment that includes a trained counselor.
  4. Once the intervention occurs, daily life must go on.
  5. An addict must choose whether or not they enter into rehab. Whether they agree to it or not, the family must stick firm to the consequences that were outlined during the Intervention.

A Family System Approach Intervention is completely different. The following points listed below show how a family systemic model is outlined as well as how it differs from a normal intervention.

  1. There are no planned meetings that are hidden from the addict. In fact, when a meeting is set up with a trained interventionist the addict goes to the very first one.
  2. During the meetings, all family members and the addict openly discuss the way the addict’s behavior has impacted each one’s lives. It is not a one way conversation – it can go back in forth in a controlled manner.
  3. Instead of having one big meeting for the intervention, there could be several meetings a week and the process can last months at a time.
  4. Both the addict and family members commit to entering some type of counseling. Most likely, the addict will attend an inpatient rehab to get over the addiction. Afterward, the addict will join the family therapy sessions that occur while he/she is in rehab. The family commits to therapy sessions while the addict is in rehab as well as afterward as one family unit.