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Alcohol and Drug Interventions

Addiction creates a veil over the addict’s eyes. It prevents the individual from seeing the world clearly. No longer does she interact with friends or family in an open manner. Drug rehabilitation intervention helps to pull that veil away. It allows the addict to see the dangers of the drug use.An intervention showcases the benefits an addiction rehabilitation program provides.This powerful, important conversation often leads to lasting changes in the life of the addict.

The Theory Behind an Intervention

Alcohol and Drug Interventions

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Friends and family members often ask the addict repeatedly to stop using. This message is repeated daily in a variety of ways. It may include threats, warnings, pleas and ultimatums. These conversations, however, often don’t motivate an addict to change. In fact, these conversations can sometimes be destructive. They may even serve to drive an addict deeper into addiction. An intervention is designed to break this cycle.

Studies have shown that people don’t have to accept addiction treatment in order for it to work.

There are many people who recover from drug addictions after they spend time in court-mandated addiction treatment programs.

However, addicts who want to change are more likely to do the hard work of recovery.They are more likely todo the work, day in and day out. Researchers state this best: “Although we would not question the necessity for psychiatric treatment in patients who do not ask for it (addictions are a major public-health problem), we should not forget that motivation is one of the essential elements for making any changes in behavior.”[1]

While it might be effective to force some people to get the addiction treatments they need, addicts who are truly motivated to change may have more success in treatment.An intervention is designed to motivate an addict to enter a treatment program.

The intervention should not be a time to punish or ridicule the addict. Instead, the intervention needs to focus on changing the addict’s mind about the addiction.

Hiring a Professional

Hire and InterventionistWhile most families talk to one another without the help of a specialist, an intervention is more than a simple conversation. An intervention is a crucial conversation that requires both delicacy and care. Most people have never held an intervention before, so they have no idea what to expect.This is why it is a good idea to hire an interventionist. He or she is trained to hold these conversations.

Interventions work best when a professional interventionist is at the helm. The interventionist helps the family plan out what they will say and drives the conversation. The right interventionist will help put the family at ease. He or she will also have have a warm and caring presence the addict can feel. There are many, many addiction interventionists available. Often, finding the right one means conducting a series of interviews.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What sorts of addictions do you specialize in?
  • What is your educational background?
  • How many interventions have you conducted?
  • How much do you charge?

It’s good to be picky and find the right person.The interventionist will partner with the family for several weeks and learn all about the inner workings of the family. For this reason, it pays to find someone that the entire group will want to work with.

Setting Up Rehearsals

In most cases, the intervention will consist of a series of letters read aloud by the family members. These letters typically follow a recognizable format, where the family members describe:

  • What they love about the addict
  • What the addiction is doing to the relationship
  • How those changes make the family members feel
  • Why a rehabilitation program is so important
  • What will happen if the person won’t enter treatment

The family writes these letters and reads them aloud in a series of rehearsals. The interventionist steps in and asks for modifications if the letters become spiteful or angry. A study suggests that addicts only find confrontations helpful if they believe that the speaker is being honest and that the concerns expressed are legitimate and the relationship is strong enough to allow the speaker to talk in this way.[2] So, if an addict’s wife tells him his drug use is making it hard for her to pay for groceries to feed their children, this message might get through. Being reasonable, logical and loving is key.

As part of the rehearsal process, families also choose a series of treatment options for the addict. They may select an inpatient program located far away, one located nearby and one that provides help on an outpatient basis. All of these programs should be aware of the date and time of the intervention, and the family should have the financial arrangements taken care of. In this way, the momentum of the intervention can lead to treatment. When the intervention is over, the addict can enter the program just a few moments later.

Holding the Intervention

Need for an InterventionThere is often a person in the addict’s life that has a calming effect on the addict. This person has a deep role to play in the intervention. Addicts can become angry, upset, confused or sad, and they may need to step away from the meeting and regroup. The soothing person should be there, at all times, to encourage the addict to step back into the room to continue the conversation. It’s an important role.

An intervention can be held anywhere, including the addict’s home, an office, a church basement or a neighbor’s home. The location should be private, however, to respect the addict’s dignity. In addition, the location should be kept secret until the day of the intervention arrives. Then, the calming person brings the addict to the location. When everyone is seated, the reading of the letters begins.

If the addict agrees to enter a treatment program, the intervention is over. People may not always get a chance to read what they have written. However, it’s important to remember that the goal of the intervention is to get the person into treatment. Nothing else matters.

However, if the addict leaves the room and does not come back, the intervention is also over. This does not mean the intervention was a failure.The addict may still be profoundly impacted by what has been said at a later point.

Many families want hard-and-fast proof that interventions work before they agree to hold one. Unfortunately, these statistics can be hard to find. One study may be reassuring, however. A study found that confrontations were effective when the addict was a strong, habitual user of drugs and thought that sobriety would be difficult.[3] Even in these tough-to-treat cases, interventions provided help. This may be proof enough that interventions have the power to help people truly heal from addiction.

If you know someone who needs an intervention, don’t let another day pass without getting them the help they need. Here at The Canyon, we are glad to help guide you through the process. Call us now and get the help that is needed for your loved one.


[1] Addiction and brief-systemic therapy: working with compulsion. Cottencin, O.

[2] Rethinking Confrontation in Alcohol and Drug Treatment: Consideration of the Clinical Context. Polcin, Douglas. Published on July 3rd, 2009.

[3] Who receives confrontation in recovery houses and when is it experienced as supportive? Polcin, Douglas. Published on Sept 17th, 2009.