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Everything You Need to Know About An Intervention

All About Interventions

When you have a loved one who is abusing drugs or alcohol, knowing precisely what to do to help them can be stressful and confusing. Many people in your same situation have found that a properly-conducted intervention can be a powerful tool that can help the entire family regain their sanity whether or not the suffering addict/alcoholic regains their sobriety.

What exactly IS an Intervention?

Interventions are conversations with a specific goal in mind. An intervention is a direct, face-to-face talk between the person abusing drugs or alcohol and their loved ones. Usually, the addict’s/alcoholic’s loved ones (spouse/partner, children, siblings, parents, other family members, friends, and sometimes even co-workers and employers) will come together in an attempt to help that individual truly start to comprehend the painful impact that their disease has brought into the lives of everyone around them. The primary goal of the intervention and the hope of each person participating is that by realizing the anguish for which they are responsible, the afflicted person agrees to accept help in the form of professional drug/alcohol rehab and addiction treatment. To this end, there is a second part to this conversation. The addict/alcoholic is sent a clear message as to what will happen if they don’t accept help and seek treatment. What exactly HAPPENS during an intervention? The exact specifics can differ, case-by-case, but all interventions share a few common stages –

  • Each loved one gets a chance to speak directly to the person with the addiction, and gives examples of how the addict’s substance abuse problems have harmed the person speaking.

In the end, each speaker should individually ask the addict/alcoholic to accept the help that is being offered. A crucially important part of this initial step is when each speaker clearly spells out – in detail – the real consequences that will result if treatment is refused. The consequences need to be plainly understood. These consequences might be an end to financial support, filing for divorce, loss of visitation with children, etc. The speaker must be ready and fully prepared to follow through with these consequences, if necessary. For the sake of everyone involved, there can be no backtracking on this.

  • When all who wish to speak have done so, the person with the addiction is once and for all offered a chance to accept professional addiction treatment and help.

This is not vague or generic. A detailed treatment plan should have already been prearranged with the help of a trained professional, with specific timelines, steps, and goals.

  • If the person accepts help – as is the goal – then that help needs to begin without delay. Ideally, a treatment center that has already been contacted will be standing by, holding an admission open.
  • If the person rejects the help, then the consequences mentioned need to occur. This is not punishment or a lack of love and care. This is so the addict’s loved ones can focus on their own lives and their own peace of mind.

Most importantly, it puts the burden of responsibility for the addict’s sobriety back where it belongs—on the addict. As it has been often said, a person has to want to change.

  • Regardless of the addict’s response, their family and friends will need to follow-up in their own lives. This may mean changing their own daily routines, learning how to quit enabling the addict’s/alcoholic’s destructive behaviors, seeking both professional and fellowship support groups help for themselves, and understanding what to do in case of relapse.

Is this as DIFFICULT and TRAUMATIC as it sounds?

There are no two ways about it… Interventions are tough. They are emotionally charged, and at the center of it all is a person in the throes of addiction. Although it’s done in a loving and supportive manner, staging an intervention means confronting an addict/alcoholic and informing them to their face how their actions and behaviors have hurt and are hurting everyone around them. Tears will flow, and very likely, angry or harsh words will be said when old hurts resurface. Frequently, the subject of the intervention can have a very unpleasant and negative initial reaction. In some cases, there might even be a threat of physical violence. Of course, there is also the chance that the addict/alcoholic will deny their problem and reject any help offered. That’s why it is critically important for the family that is planning the intervention to contact a trained and experienced professional in advance. A professional interventionist can answer any questions and fully prepare everyone for what is to come. It is highly recommended that in addition to helping with the preparation, the professional attend the intervention in order to guide the process in a direct, dispassionate way. Because they do not have the same emotional involvement in the current situation, they are able to stay on task and on target. The message, rather than the minutia, is the most important.

Does this REALLY work?

Yes, absolutely. When the proper preparation is performed and when a professional interventionist is there to guide the process, some experts say that up to 90% of all interventions are successful in getting the alcoholic/addict to commit to accepting drug and alcohol rehab and addiction treatment. Furthermore, even when the initial intervention fails, the addict/alcoholic will very often come back later and ask for help, which is again, the entire goal of an intervention.

What does all this cost? Are interventions covered by insurance?

Although most insurance carriers will pay for drug or alcohol rehab, interventions are typically not covered. Most interventions will include standard services such as all meetings with family members and friends and any preparations that lead up to the intervention. The intervention itself will be included. It will also usually cover explaining, recommending, and coordinating with appropriate drug rehab facilities/addiction treatment centers. Most professional interventionists will charge somewhere between $2000 and $3500 for their basic level of service.  If travel is required—for example, if the interventionist needs to accompany the addict/alcoholic to treatment, additional fees plus travel expenses will be charged. Whether the intervention initially succeeds in getting the person to agree to treatment or even if it fails completely, the assembled loved ones who attended need to continue supporting each other through any difficulties or problems that arise. The bottom line is this – when life is becoming unmanageable because of the destructive presence of drugs or alcohol addiction, the right time to do something about it is always NOW, not some hypothetical time in the future.