Frequently Asked Questions
– What is Intervention?
– What is the scope of Intervention?
– Why is it mandatory to conduct an Intervention?
– What is in it for the participants in a family Intervention?
– How did the concepts of Intervention develop over time?
– Why haven’t I heard about Interventions in the past?
– My sister argues that Intervention is a violation of papa’s right to choose?
– What types of Intervention are usually conducted in a family setting?
– How do you choose from three approaches in a Family Intervention?
– How does Intervention affect the life of the family thereafter?
– What are the important considerations prior to staging the Family Intervention
– Can we do Family Intervention without professional guidance?
– How can we explore a comfort level with a Professional Interventionist?
– How urgent is my situation?
– What are we aiming at in an Intervention?
– How should I handle angry , hopeless or reluctant family members?
– How can we intervene when my family lives all around the country?
– How much time will be required of the participants?
– How much elapsed time does an Intervention take?
– Where will the planning meetings and the Intervention take place?
– What kind of treatment works best?
– Isn’t it true that you can’t help someone until they want help?
– Don’t alcoholics have to “hit bottom” before they can recover?
– I’ve been told that treatment doesn’t work when someone is forced to accept help.
– Is it all right to intervene on an elder?
– What if other family members are opposed to doing an intervention?
– I know the alcoholic in my family will walk out of the intervention. What do we do then?
– Won’t the alcoholic get angry during the intervention and begin an argument?
– What do we tell our children when mom (dad) is in treatment?
– Our family members are scattered across the country. How do we do an intervention when we live so far apart?
– What if our alcoholic loved one relapses after treatment?
– Is there a cure for alcoholism?
– How can I convince someone with an alcohol problem to get help?
– Does Treatment work?
Dictionary defines Intervention as ‘interference’, ‘involvement’, ‘intrusion’ and ‘intercession’. This is what we all do, all the time and then we regret as to why we did so. Because we do it poorly with poor results. Intervention as we refer here is a term. It is a deliberate process by which change is introduced into people who have messed up their lives with self-destructive behaviors. During an Intervention a family works on its own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Having done that, she extends this work to a loved one through a spiritual negotiation. Intervention guarantees that the help is delivered to a loved one and as a caregiver you are spared of pain. Intervention stands on these two logics.
A formal Intervention, like we are discussing here, usually involves several people preparing themselves, approaching a person involved in some self-destructive behavior, and talking to the person in a clear and respectful way about the behavior in question with the immediate objectives being for the person to listen and to accept therapeutic help.
Although the Intervention process has been structured and demystified, the idea is not new. Thinking back, most of us can remember a time when someone or something – a teacher, friend, or set of circumstances impressed us in a seminal way which altered how we understood ourselves and changed our perspective. Moments like these constitute turning points where new vistas open allowing us to see things differently and to recognize opportunities we did not know existed before. The parameters of such a structured and formalized step-by-step Intervention are geared to bring about a paradigm shifting experience in a loved one.
The overall objective of an Intervention is to begin to relieve the suffering caused by a self-destructive behavior – the suffering of the person engaged in it and the suffering of family and friends.
What is the scope of Intervention?
Any self-destructive behavior in a loved one can be addressed in an Intervention: alcoholism, workohlism, addiction, suicidal ideation, deliberate self harm and compulsive disorders including gambling, infidelity, home runaway and over eating.
Generally people think the scope of the Intervention is limited to alcoholism and addiction. This is not true. However, that will be the ‘scenario’ used throughout this discussion. Nevertheless, any addiction or compulsive behavior in a loved one can be dealt with Intervention in a most befitting manner. Authority figures suffering from primary disorders like diabetes and hypertention can be helped if they decline effective treatment in a matter of days. Even an elderly person, no longer able to live alone safely yet resisting help and nursing care can be helped through the Intervention process. Apparently it may look like taking the idea too far, but Intervention is taking its long over due place in international affairs too. Instead of waging wars countries are looking at the process of Intervention optimistically. Its being taken as a kind of spiritual negotiations in lieu of silence or violence. Intervention is emerging as a beautiful third option.
Why is it mandatory to conduct an Intervention?
Because nothing else has worked.
Most people attempt to change a person or situation through reason and discussion, usually one-on-one. When this fails, frustration may lead to anger. Appeals to reason and one-on-one discussions rarely produce change in someone engaged in self-destructive behaviors. This can go on for years.
When these maneuvers fail to produce desirable outcome we can look up to Intervention whereby one-on-one discussions replace group-verses-one and reasons and appeals replace an intellectual exercise working on psycho-dynamics – human behaviors resulting from motivation and drives.
An Intervention requires at least three to five people having a meaningful relationship with the person indulged in self sabotaging behavior, who could seriously work on their own behavior to make it highly effective under the guidance of a professional intervetionist. They learn to present reality in a receivable way to a person who is out of touch with it. An Interventionist directs his educational and counseling efforts to these concerned others who surround a loved one, to mobilize, to act, and to help them become effective intervenors in the disease that is the no.1 scourge of our time. You learn to use your influence and leverage in a creative way. In Intervention you are delivering help in a logical and controlled style. You don’t feel like barking up the wrong tree. Your loved one accepts help and your relation with him strengthens.
What is in it for the participants in a Family Intervention?
In order to prepare for an Intervention, family members and friends gather to discuss the details with the Interventionist. They jointly decide what form the Intervention will take, identify who should be included in the Intervention, develop education and treatment plans, develop an Intervention plan and schedule, and then execute the plans. It is not an exercise in futility. It is a course in miracles.
When a loved one is involve in a self-destructive behavior, family members often feel betrayed, confused, guilty, and defensive. They sometimes blame each other as well as themselves and the addicted person for their difficulties. Family and friends often enter into this adventure with apprehension and frequently with a high level of frustration and anger. When they are trained comprehensively and ready to stage a structured Intervention, there apprehension is replaced by anticipation. Sharing and expressing feelings gives purpose to return and refresh old pains and family members recieve comfort. We can expect negative feelings to resolve and relationships to revive during an Intervention. The trainingmeetings prior to structured Intervention transform the family in ways necessary for lasting change to occur. And this group with a spiritual bond approaching the addict/alcoholic offers something much better than a confrontation – a miracle.
Wiiifm – What is in it for me – is everyone‘s favorite radio station. Family Intervention is no exception to this rule. The family Intervention creates a different world for everybody to live in, happily everafter. And one day everyone involved is indebted to the identified patient for providing such an opportunity to grow and flourish.
How did the concepts of Intervention develop over time?
Traditionally, we have been criticizing and confronting in the lives of our family members. Similarly at work place, in the civil society and amongst countries, there has always been a cause of concern leading to some painful negotiations due to one of the following:
- Self-destructive behavior of a loved one.
- When someone’s behavior is hurting us.
- When someone is hurting himself as well as us.
These interactions are not smooth. They are crucial conversations. When we hear this, we conjure up images of foreign ministers seated around a massive table while they debate the future of the world. These crucial conversations take place in the board rooms as well as living rooms. Now, what makes one of your conversations crucial as opposed to plain vanilla? First, opinions vary. Your husband thinks that alcohol is a solution for all his problems. You think it is the root cause. Second, stakes are high. You’ve got to do something effective or your husband is in danger. And you know that the alcoholics don’t take the trip to the bottom alone – the family goes with them. Third, emotions run strong because human beings are not emotionally literate all over the world.
In families, organizations as well as international affairs there are situations when a dialogue turns into a crucial conversation. In all of such situations we can use tools for talking when stakes are high. When faced with broken promises, violated expectations and bad behavior we can use crucial confrontation tools to resolve said behaviors. We can even develop an effective strategy to influence a crucial problem single handedly. When you cannot handle a wildly important problem alone structured Intervention with the help of a few meaningful people can create a miracle. Structured Intervention is a sane choice for anybody who considers silence and violence as dirty choices. However, as much as we may want them to change, we can inspire, prod, and shape – with a great degree of success – the person in the mirror. As we work on ourselves, we become the most skilled at dialogue. But here’s the irony. It’s the most talented, not the least, who are continually trying to improve their dialogue skills. As is often the case, the rich get richer.
In family Intervention, family and friends band together and encourage an alcoholic to accept help. It has been used successfully for almost fifty years, ever since Dr. Vernon Johnson first began to exercise this technique which continues to be the standard against which all further developments are compared and measured. And rightfully so.
However, there have been many developments over the last few decades. With the passage of time a recognition emerged over time that Intervention technique was not only applicable in alcoholism and other domestic situations but also suitable for a lot of other environments like corporate boardrooms, back channel diplomacy, and forums of the United Nations Organizations.
As the applications of Interventions has grown, and as more people with a broader range of backgrounds have become involved in conducting Interventions, many refinements on Johnson’s original techniques emerged. Some of these refinements are due to the population served. For example, the approach to Interventions can vary considerably from one conducted in a safe corporate board room to one conducted in a potentially risky meeting in a hostile country. Also the mechanics of the Intervention often vary depending on the style, training and history of the Interventionist: Some Interventions focus on getting help for the alcoholic, others on promoting recovery for the whole family.
Health professionals and other people who take responsibility to turn around people with self-destructive behavior can learn the dynamics of structured Intervention step-by-step from primary to masters’ level.
Why haven’t I heard about Interventions in the past?
Because people don’t do them very much. “Intervention” is not a common household word. If we look at the education of our ancestors we don’t find it beyond three generations. If we look at trainings like assertiveness, stress management, and information technology we hardly see anything of the sort beyond twenty five years. We cannot think about living without a cell phone today. And talk about fifteen years go, it was a rareity. There were only 3 channels on the cable only five years ago. Intervention will be a household name very soon. It does not belong to past. It is a futuristic approach.
Interventions are not being used nearly as much as they could be for two major reasons. First of all, people cannot do what they don’t know about, and even after the remarkable advances of the last decades, the public still remains generally unaware that the Intervention process exists.
Of equal concern, the little that is “known” about Interventions is too often simplistic, distorted, incorrect, overstated, understated, or misconceived. For example, the public generally believes an Intervention to be an aggressive, intrusive, attack of some kind, rather than being, as it truly should be, the kindest and most loving thing family and friends can do. Unfortunately some are intrusive attacks. Increasingly, however, Interventions emphasize love and concern rather than blaming or name calling.
My sister argues that Intervention is a violation of papa’s right to choose?
Recently I recieved an e-mail from a doctor. He wrote, “I decided not to intervene on my alcoholic father: I thought it’s the lifestyle he chose and I never wanted to interfere. Two years later my father died. The very next day I was watching dawn–news channel’s program “The First Blast”, and here you were talking about alcoholism that it wasn’t a lifestyle choice. It was a chronic, progressive, predictable disease called alcoholism. Suddenly, it dawned on me as if i killed my father.”
We make many choices that affect our lifestyle: where we live, what we eat, who our friends are, how we spend our free time. Lifestyle choices can have consequences, both good and bad. Some affect our health. We choose our lifestyles, but we don’t choose a disease. Addiction is a disease, not a choice.
Making the decision to drink or use other drugs is common in our society. Some people drink or drug too much and too often. Consuming fourteen drinks a week, for instance, is categorized as heavy drinking. That’s two drinks a day. Not all heavy drinkers develop the disease of alcoholism. Two friends can drink the same amount of alcohol over the same duration of time, and one becomes alcoholic while the other doesn’t. We see this on college campuses. Reports of binge drinking and the use of other drugs are common, but only about 10 percent of users will develop an addiction. Genetics, not choice, determines their fate.
For some people social drinking is an acceptable part of life as long as one follows the “rule”. The keyword is control. Alcoholics are defined as people who break the rules. So, here is the myth: “People who exert proper control, it is believed, won’t become alcoholic”.
For others, drinking any amount of alcohol is “sinful”. The keyword is righteous don’t drink. Here is the myth: “Addiction is a curse people bring upon themselves. Once alcoholics decide to live virtuous lives, they are cured.”
Drinking per se is not a defect of character; it is not a disease either. Alcoholism is. You can judge drinking and alcoholism apart by consequnces. Rest assured alcoholism is treatable at any stage. You are hesitant to approach your loved one because he his difficult. He will refuse, like always. Structured family Intervention is the key. Act now. There is a step by step plan for his recovery. Don’t suffer in silence. You have waited too long for a miracle. Make it happen.
What types of Intervention are usually conducted in a family setting?
As individuals we are always trying to change others without giving much thought. And sometimes we decide to confront others in a more planned and purposeful manner. When it comes to Intervention, there is always an absolute right way in given circumstances at a given time.
In addition to Family Interventions there are workplace Interventions involving an employee or a senior personnel who becomes counter productive due to a self-destructive behavior. There are many other Interventions at a bigger scale. For instance when a country becomes a threat to the world peace a number of countries together take an initiative on the forum of UNO and conduct Intervention using their influence and leverage.
When thinking about Interventions in a family setting, there are generally three varieties seen in practice keeping in view the urgency and the mental status of the loved one involved in a self-sabotaging behavior: Process Intervention, Structure Intervention and Crisis Intervention. Here is a brief description.
A. Process Intervention
The Process Intervention focuses on the family. The goal is for everyone in the family to change their ways, at least in regards to the interaction with the loved one who has a self-destructive behavior, knowing that this changed behavior will have a tremendous influence on him.
In this variety the whole process is considered to be the Intervention. There is no identified Intervention day. It is an ongoing process. It is a more classical approach since the whole family, including the identified loved one with an addictive sickness, is considered the subject of the Intervention. Although, the alcoholic or an identified patient does not know at a concious level but he is participating in the Process Intervention right from the beginning.
The family stops relying on short-term solutions and his promises. Of course, he is difficult, but the family learns to negotiate assertively with him using her influence and leverage. Family makes his recovery a wildely important goal and does not dilute her energies by indulging in a lot of non-productive futile efforts – enabling and provoking. She works on a single strategy – make him realize that he is responsible for the consequences of his drinking. The purpose of the Process Intervention is to make him the sole proprietor of the pain coming out of alcoholism. Neither the family nor the alcoholic deserves pain, but if one of them can benefit from the pain that generates from alcoholism then he is the most appropriate candidate. Pain can make him realize that alcohol is no more a friend for him. It has turned its ugly face to him. It has become a devestating enemy for him and his family. Sooner or later he is bound to quit alcohol all by himself or accept help.
Family involvement begins and continues whether or not the alcoholic quits or goes to the treatment. The educational process is viewed as an integral part and emphasizes the basics of addiction, the roles of guilt and shame in the family system, the recognition of enabling and provoking behaviors, and the development of a recovery plan for each family member. The goal is for the family to change behavior and consequently change the situation or system in which the alcoholism or an addictive sickness has thrived.
B. Structured Intervention
The Structured Intervention remains by for the most common form of family Interventions. It is the most closely related to Johnson’s approach or some variation thereof. It has been used for over forty years for thousands of Interventions with great success.
The focus is on the alcoholic. The immediate goal is for the alcoholic to enter treatment immediately after the Structured Intervention.
Family involvement varies, but at the very least there is enough involvement to plan the Intervention prior to the Intervention day. Family involvement continues to be extensive even after the Intervention day when the patient accepts help and enters a facility. This helps to address problems that arise either for the family or for the identified patient.
There are six basic steps for an effective structured Intervention:
- Call a meeting of concerned family members and friends who are especially meaningful to the identified patient.
- Have participants prepare Interventuion data — lists describing specific incidents of drinking/self-sabotaging behavior and how they felt about each incident.
- Have participants decide on the specific treatment plan they expect the alcoholic to accept.
- Have participants decide exactly what they will do if the alcoholic rejects all form of help.
- As a group, meet with the alcoholic to present the information and the proposed treatment plan at a point in time when he is not under the influence.
- As a group, meet after the Intervention to evaluate the experience and design necessary next moves to achieve this widely important goal.
Family education is primarily aimed at preparing for the Intervention day. There is frequently some additional education after Intervention day to help the family adjust to the changing circumstances. Many treatment programs are designed to educate the family in addictions and how to take care of themselves when living with a recovering person.
C. Crisis Intervention
This is the polar opposite of the Structured Intervention. Crisis Interventions are conducted in dangerous situations involving drunkenness, weapons, hospital emergency rooms, or violence or threats of violence. It is obvious in these situations that a person is in immediate danger to himself or others. The immediate objective in these cases is to calm the crisis and to create safety for all. When a patient is drunk or unconcious as a result of an accident or physically ill and unconcious, family members request the hospital authorities to provide short-term as well as a long-term solution. Remember, a crisis often creates golden opportunities for family members to help someone accept help.
Note that although these forms of Intervention were discussed separately, they are rarely so distinct in practice. Many of the characteristics of one can be found in the others depending on the situation. For example, the considerations of the Process Intervention are always a factor even in the more structured approaches and vice versa. Because of the many differences among families and situations, an actual Intervention often becomes a blend of all of these forms. However, Process Intervention is your first choice in early alcoholism when physical health and sanity of the loved one is intact. Crises Intervention is considered when physical, psychological and social health has deteriorated to a great degree and especially when sanity of the alcoholic is jeopardised. The scope of the Structured Intervention is in between the two when physical health and sanity is relatively intact. Intoxication leading to drunkenness provides another parameter to choose a type of Intervention. A little intoxication with no drunkenness points towards process Intervention. Moderate intoxication and drunkenness provides enough Intervention data for the family to present during Structured Intervention, making it a right choice. In late stage alcoholism frequent drunkenness coupled with intoxication all the time creates the alarming condition that requires Crisis Intervention.
How do you choose from three approaches in a Family Intervention?
Family Intervention is the most effective strategy families can use to help a loved one suffering from alcoholism or a self-sabotaging behavior. It is also the most modern way of negotiating a change. And just as CPR is often the first, life saving step in helping a heart attack victim, Intervention is the most powerful step that a family can take to initiate the recovery process. Once family members and close friends understand that Intervention is based on love and dignity, they will support this well-planned and well-rehearsed, highly successful approach.
Family intervention uses the power of love and concern to break through denial and help a loved one quit alcohol or accept help. Patient can be persuaded to accept indoor treatment, outdoor treatment while still under the influence leading to outdoor treatment with abstinence and indirect treatment altogether. It looks strange but in indirect treatment, a patient is not consciously aware of the process as the family is going through “treatment” with a trickle down effect on him. By organizing family members and friends in a very specific way, we are able to get results that were impossible in the past. Many families think they’ve tried everything, but on closer examination, it is obvious that they were exhausting themselves by running in circles. The alcoholic plays one person up against another, keeping the family off balance. They are oblivious of their wildly important goal and unwittingly dilute their energies and resources by working on a number of short-term solutions for a long-term problem.
When it comes to Intervention in a family setting, we need to design an absolute right way in given circumstances at a given time. There are generally three varieties of Family Intervention seen in practice: Process Intervention, Structure Intervention and Crisis Intervention. Note that although these forms of interventions are separate entities, they are rarely so distinct in practice. Many of the characteristics of one can be found in the others depending on the situation. For example, the considerations of the Process Intervention are always a factor even in the more structured approaches and vice versa . Because of the many differences among families and situations, an actual Intervention often becomes a blend of all of these forms.
Of the several things that need to be considered, the first is always the issue of urgency and safety. Then comes mental status and the level of sanity in the identified patient. You also need to look into level of intoxication and drunkenness in his drinking pattern.
If you are responding to a crisis, the Intervention approach you choose will reflect urgency. You need to address the crisis immediately and ensure everyone’s safety. Family education and future plans can come later. However, when we talk about crisis in alcoholism and decide to go for Crisis Intervention, we make sure that it is ongoing and progressive. A crisis that erupts suddenly and is temporary in nature and requires Crisis Management in which a patient is kept in a Crisis Management Unit for as long as crisis does not settle. Then, patient is sent home and family counseling aims at a fresh admission into a rehabilitation unit. Crisis Management and Crisis Intervention cannot be done at one place and in one go. If the family has not undergone extensive counseling prior to Crisis Intervention leading to rehabilitation, she can not cope with the separation anxiety and gets the patient discharge prematurely against medical advice. Luck favors the prepared mind. The phrase holds true for the chemically dependent families too. Crisis management is a short term solution for a burning problem in alcoholism and does not require prior family counseling.
Process Intervention is your first choice in early alcoholism when physical health and sanity of the loved one is intact. This is what we call as indirect treatment. Crises Intervention is considered when physical, psychological and social health has deteriorated to a great degree and especially when sanity of the alcoholic is jeopardized. This leads to an indoor treatment essentially in a hospital setting. The scope of the Structured Intervention is in between the two when physical health and sanity is relatively intact. Intoxication leading to drunkenness provides another parameter to choose a type of Intervention. A little intoxication with no drunkenness points towards process intervention. Moderate intoxication and drunkenness provides enough intervention data for the family to present during Structured Intervention leading to in-door or out-door treatment. In late stage alcoholism, frequent drunkenness with health hazards coupled with intoxication all the time creates the alarming condition that requires Crisis Intervention leading to in-door treatment.
If you are dealing with a chronic problem the classic Structured Intervention or a blend of these approaches are available to you. Your decision on how to proceed will depend on several factors including what your family members are prepared to do keeping in view their own circumstances, motivation and geographical positions. You can discuss with the interventionist the most realistic and practical approach for your loved one. Remember, an intervention is often a highly charged emotional experience and the family needs to be working with someone she trusts. Intervention unifies the family and gets everyone working together. Before the intervention ever takes place, the team goes through a planning and rehearsal process that leaves nothing to chance. There are three assignments for the family to complete with the help of an Interventionist:
- Learn about the disease of alcoholism, intervention and its treatment;
- Familiarize yourself with all the professionals you are going to work with;
- Choose a facility after an in-depth comparative study of the rehabilitation centers.
Look for someone who makes sense to you. Choose someone you can trust and then let them help you. There are many common misconceptions about Intervention. Some think it is an emotional ambush or an uncaring attack. Intervention is a proactive adventure founded on love and honesty. Through our work in Intervention, we have found that love is a powerful force which breaks through denial, not toughness. Using love first, we succeed to have a break through; then we can build solid recovery on it with toughness during any stage in future when we seem to stuck. However, you need to maintain high level of respect and keep expressing love in words when you interact with somebody you are determined to help. Like in all other medical treatments we need to balance comfort level of the patient with success in treatment on ongoing bases.
A Family Intervention begins with one person looking for a way to end the problems caused by alcoholism or other addictions. Those who love the alcoholic put aside everything they think they know, and begin a new. With a thorough and updated education, the family makes a well-informed decision about Intervention.
There are several ways to educate yourself on intervention. You can hire our Intervention services by calling us at our EasyIntervention Centers. Our Interventionist will help you decide which intervention approach is right for your loved one. He or she may also lead the Intervention.
How does Intervention affect the life of the family thereafter?
Think of a family’s interactions as a well choreographed rituals. Everything they do and say to each other has been perfected by doing it all the time. Each member recognizes his cues and executes his steps without thinking – day after day after day. There are some good family values taken too far into dealing with a disease entity without concious awareness. Like, when a family member is in trouble we want to help him with an immediate solution. When a family member is a suffering from a disease we help him by taking him into treatment. In alcoholism we start providing with short term solutions when we should be asking him to get help as this is a disease.
Imagine the family members circling around one member’s alcoholism. Everyone knows the moves by heart, even the drinker. And although everyone hates the “rituals”, no one can imagine how to stop doing what they are doing. In fact wanting to stop has become a part of the rituals. Guilt and suffering are also written in. The family could go on like this forever. This is when we say that the family is suffering from shadow alcoholism. All primary, chronic and progressive illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, AIDS, cancer and alcoholism have a shadow counter part in the family member.
An Intervention is a controlled or choreographed crisis. The rituals, business-as-usual behavior of the drinker and family, is stopped for a long enough time to get everyone’s attention.
One day all the family members stand still when they would normally being turning somersaults. At that moment everything changes in the family.
Although the transition is not always smooth and some family members may bump into each other at first, the important thing is that the counter productive rituals are brought to a stop; the drinker has no one left to do the old steps with. And at long last the family has the drinker’s complete attention. The intervention breaks the viscious circle and a whole new ball game starts. A miracle begins.
What are the important considerations prior to staging the family Intervention?
There are a few questions to ponder before a family embarks upon this sacred journey:
How much professional guidance my family will need before doing an Intervention?
How urgent is my situation?
What should be the objective of family intervention as it applies to my situation?
Who should participate in the Intervention?
How should the angry, hopeless or reluctant family members be handled?
How can we intervene when my family members live away from each other especially in different cities all around the country?
How much time will be required from the different family members to be invested in this life saving project?
How much time it takes before a family is ready to conduct Intervention?
Where will the planning meetings and the Intervention take place?
What kind of treatment works best?
Before staging an intervention, family needs to undergo training with a core program as well as a few supporting programs. The core program is designed keeping in mind the urgency and the level of sanity. For this we need to look at the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of his life. As a result of that it can be Process Intervention when its important but not urgent. It can be Structured Intervention when it is both important and urgent. Crisis Intervention is an up front choice when it is a life and death situation. Supporting programs work in the perspective for the attitudinal healing of the family members who are angry, hopeless and reluctant to take this spiritual initiative. Process Intervention is an ongoing endeavour so the training of the family members is also ongoing. Structured Intervention is conducted for the sole purpose of putting a loved one into a structured treatment. So, family members need to complete a week long course before the ‘actual’ day of Intervention. Crisis Intervention requires only a 90 minutes briefing followed by the admission of the patient done by the trained rehabilitation team. Family counseling continues after the admission for as long as necessary. Knowing that he needs to quit, the objective of the Intervention should not be to extract a promise; ask him to quit or accept help. Whatever the type of Intervention, the family members need to invest an hour a day on average during the whole project of re-claimimg a loved one. As you know, you spend much more time cleaning the mess created by such a loved one and obsessing about what will happen to him every day. The family training should be conducted in the counselor’s office and the rehearsal should be done in the lion’s den, if possible. Goal orientated treatment works best in the early recovery whereas issue oriented treatment takes precedence later on.
Remember: The first item is truly the will to start.
Can we do the Family Intervention without professional guidance?
Doing it all by yourself is not recommended. Of course professional guidance is mandatory. Interventions are difficult and delicate matters and it is important that they be done properly. Nearly all Interventions can benefit from the advice and counsel of a professional experienced in the dynamics of Intervention. The first thing to do is to seek out the advice and counsel of an Interventionist. At least a family needs one week’s training before making a meaningful attempt to convince a patient that he needs structured help. Even with the help of a professional interventionist you don’t have to commit to anything until you are ready. There are certain pre-requisites to do before actually attempting a Family Intervention, especially a little assertiveness training will always be useful and handy.
Many families waste a great deal of time and effort trying to organize an Intervention all by themselves. As a result of that either the Intervention never takes place at all or nothing happens when all is said and done. Sometimes it proves to be down right counter productive. Asking for guidance and help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength.
How can we explore a comfort level with a Professional Interventionist?
By the Interventionist’s experience and your sense of comfort and trust.
Specialized training is required to guide a family and work colleagues through the Intervention successfully. Most people, including many in the addiction field, have a simplistic view of Interventions, greatly underestimating the knowledge, skill, flexibility, and courage necessary on the part of an Interventionist. Although a background in addictions and human behavior is essential, the normal methods of family therapies are insufficient as every technique used in conventional psychology needs a modification when transplanted in the field of addiction and alcoholism. A lot of skills from different disciplines like socialogy, philosophy, religion, medicine and psychotherapy blend and blur when used in addiction and alcoholism.
The amount of training, experience, skill and supervision among people doing Interventions varies considerably, and it is difficult to evaluate an Interventionist’s qualifications or performance. So when meeting an Interventionist for the first time, inquire about how long he or she has been doing Interventions and about how he or she conducts Interventions. Develop a sense of whether or not the Interventionist knows what he or she is doing. Follow your instincts; you will know.
It is important that you trust the Interventionist. Should you ever find you are uneasy or that you are being asked to do something you do not understand or agree with, you should know what to ask when you don’t know what to say? The best question you can ever ask is this; Could you refer me to a family who has successfully conducted an Intervention with your guidance most recently?
How urgent is my situation?
The driving force in many Interventions is urgency and safety. Do you need to act immediately to save the person’s life, or is this an ongoing problem that does not pose an immediate threat? The answer often determines what actions can be taken.
For example, an elderly couple slowly drinking themselves into the grave is not in as urgent need as a man on a binge with the car keys in his hand. A family dinner where adult children gather to speak reasonably to their parents about going into treatment could get the attention of the elderly couple, whereas nothing short of an arrest for drunk driving may stop the man on a binge.
Thinking about the level of urgency prior to the initial meeting with the Interventionist will make the meeting more productive.
What are we aiming at in an Intervention?
The relief of suffering and saving lives is the underlying agenda of any Intervention. Changing the self-destructive behavior at the root of suffering is always the focus regardless of the form an Intervention may take. However, emotional turmoil of the people around is also ameliorated, lives connected to such a loved one are also saved and legacy of spiritual healing lingers on in the generations to come. When we looks at a loved one who is in the grip of a vicious cycle going down the drain, we can adopt one of the two strategies: we can die with him as he is dying— co-dependence— or we can help him live as we are living—-co-commitment. We can make ourselves ready first, aim at a target and fire or we can fire first, then aim at nothing and get ready last. Choice is ours.
Nearly all families begin the Intervention process in the same basic stance:
“A person in my family is drinking or working too much. I worry he will have a heart attack, an accident and die. I want him to stop drinking or working too much so he will be happy and the rest of us can stop worrying. Nothing we have done so far has done any good. An Intervention is our last hope. Will it work?”
An immediate objective of most Interventions is to have the alcoholic or workoholic accept help of some sort – detox, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, counseling, therapy or some combination of these. The classical model often defines treatment for the person with a self destructive behavior as its primary objective. Once somebody accepts a problem, comes in the open and accepts help, the healing process begins. Likewise, a family has two options: it can hide a problem or solve it.
Sometimes a family can readily understand how changes in their own attitudes and behaviors can be a powerful influence on the alcoholic and be motivated to invest time in educational counseling and treatment. When this happens the objective of the Intervention is broadened into having everyone in the family (including the identified patient) accept help of some sort — education, self-help groups, therapy and other forms of appropriate training.
Who should participate in the Intervention?
In the classical Intervention, everyone who is meaningful to the drinker is a candidate for inclusion in the Intervention. For a family systems Intervention, anyone who is affected by the drinker’s behavior is a candidate for inclusion.
Elderly family members are sometimes not included because of their health or from a desire to minimize stress for them. This is often a mistake and serious consideration should be made to include them whenever possible. Children are also powerful members of the family, and although they should be protected at all costs, they often can be participants in an Intervention to everyone’s benefit including theirs.
Furthermore, the process is not dependent upon the number of people. Successful Interventions can occur between a husband and wife or parent and child with little or no involvement from any one else.
How many people actually participate depends upon many factors; geography and other practical concerns must be considered. If the family is dispersed around the country and some members can not afford to attend, the Intervention can still be conducted.
How should I handle angry , hopeless or reluctant family members?
Always discuss with the Interventionist the most realistic and practical approach to use. Do not make decisions about these matters prior to this discussion; the Interventionist may have some helpful ideas.
Sometimes people are too angry, too hopeless or too frightened to participate in an Intervention. Other family members may want to be there to show support but are truly not interested in learning very much about the situation or in discussing how it has affected them. Still others may be willing to do whatever it takes, within reason, of course. And still others are very aware that the problem is much larger than just one person and that everyone needs long-term sustained help. It is not uncommon to have all these positions present at the same time in the same family.
How can we intervene when my family lives all around the country?
During the initial stages family members often use the mail, phone and email to communicate with each other and with the Interventionist. Sometimes they can only come together for a day at most and preparation work by phone or fax is the only option. Other times they can come together for a long weekend (3-4 days) and can take advantage of all the benefits of face to face communication.
Sometimes a family member can not participate fully due to schedule commitments, cost of travel or for other reasons. These situations can be accommodated also. People who cannot be present sometimes write letters that can be used quite effectively.
How much time will be required of the participants?
The minimum time investment usually involves two or three sessions with the Interventionist, the time spent on Intervention day, and a follow up session. Sometimes this can be reduced even further.
As a practical matter, however, Interventions should be viewed as a long term process requiring a rather large time commitment. Discuss this with your Interventionist.
Families often use the Intervention process as an opportunity to educate themselves about the illness, to develop an understanding of their role in the drinker’s problems, and to formulate and execute treatment plans for themselves. These families may have several sessions with an Interventionist before and after the actual Intervention. They may also decide to participate in a support program such as Alanon. Occasionally a family will decide that they want the support of extensive family therapy for the educational and emotional support they need to make the changes in all their lives.
How much elapsed time does an Intervention take?
A normal time period is in the range of two to three days to several weeks preparation time prior to Intervention day, and as much time as necessary after that. This can vary considerably.
Where will the planning meetings and the Intervention take place?
Meetings among the family members, with or without the drinker, can take place anywhere that makes sense including the drinker’s home, the Interventionist’s office, a friends home, a friend’s office, a church, a hotel room, anywhere at all.
What kind of treatment works best?
There is debate about what kind of treatment works the best. There are choices between inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, AA, and of course the “nothing but the person’s change of heart” approach. An argument can be made for almost any of these treatment approaches.
Sometimes it will be obvious which approach is more suitable. For example, if the person is in an acute crisis, inpatient care is more than likely advisable. Cost considerations also drive treatment decisions. The Interventionist could favor one approach over another.
Again, your Interventionist has a broad range of knowledge of the treatment resources available. Be open and discuss all these considerations.
Isn’t it true that you can’t help someone until they want help?
This is not true. Alcoholics don’t spontaneously decide to get help for their alcoholism. Something happens in their life that causes them to want help.
Ask yourself this question: “If an alcoholic won’t get help until he wants help, what will get him to want help?” It can be years of personal tragedy extending to whoever comes in contact with him assuming it to be a temporary trouble not knowing that it is a disease. span>
Don’t alcoholics have to “hit bottom” before they can recover?
An alcoholic’s bottom can be divorce, arrest, health problems, financial ruin, child neglect, loss of friends, domestic abuse, jail, insanity, death. Typically, an alcoholic can suffer several or all of these consequences. When the alcoholic hits bottom, the family does too.
I’ve been told that treatment doesn’t work when someone is forced to accept help.
In intervention, however, we do not force someone into treatment. We ask them to go. They make the final decision for themselves. We do, however, make decisions to no longer do things that make it easy for the alcoholic to stay sick, and this often convinces reluctant alcoholics to get help. However, it is not how someone gets into treatment, but what happens once they are in treatment. A recent study conducted over a 25 years period shows that the success rate in treatment is the same for people ordered into treatment by the courts and those who entered treatment on their own. One clear fact about drug treatment is that success in treatment is a function of time in treatment. And time in treatment is often a function of coercion — being forced into treatment by a loved one, an employer or, as is often the case, the legal system. People who are forced to enter treatment under legal sanctions are more likely to complete treatment programs and thus more likely to get well…
Is it all right to intervene on an elder?
There are special techniques for intervening on an aging parent or a grandparent. A loving approach works very well when helping an older person. The language used with an older adult is different, and we look for age-specific signs and symptoms of alcoholism. Older people benefit from treatment programs designed for their age group. While recovery is slower, success is greater among elders. If the person you are concerned about is over age 55, get special education on older adults before intervening.
What if other family members are opposed to doing an intervention?
When people are opposed to intervention, it often means they need more information. Rather than asking people to commit to doing an intervention, ask if they’d be willing to learn about intervention. Suggest they start with this website. Most people are willing to take this first, small step. After everyone is educated, the family is ready to make a well-informed decision about intervention.
I know the alcoholic in my family will walk out of the intervention. What do we do then?
This is one of the most common fears families planning interventions have. This may happen once in a blue moon, but we prepare for it in anticipation. Select one or two people from your intervention team who are highly respected by the alcoholic to block him politely or follow him outside and bring him back. They can gently and lovingly assure him everything is all right, and ask him to come back in. A professional interventionist can do this, too.
Won’t the alcoholic get angry during the intervention and begin an argument?
Anger is rarely seen during an intervention when we maintain a high level of respect and keep expressing the innate love for that person, even if we describe the incidences leading to the intervention in no uncertain terms. It is more likely that the alcoholic will become tearful. While families often believe the alcoholic will react with anger, this almost rarely happens.
What do we tell our children when mom (dad) is in treatment?
Be honest with your children. Tell them that mom has a disease and she is working to get better. Get help from the treatment center as they have an education and support program for children.
Our family members are scattered across the country. How do we do an intervention when we live so far apart?
Most people are able to arrange their schedules and make travel plans for something this important. People who are unable to attend can participate from home, and write a letter for someone on the intervention team to read for them during the intervention.
What if our alcoholic loved one relapses after treatment?
If this happens, a family who has done an intervention is better prepared to handle the crisis than most families. You can do another intervention to address the relapse. This often doesn’t require all family members to attend if some people live a distance away. Consult with the counselor from the treatment center, and the professional interventionist, if you associated with one. They can help you decide what the alcoholic needs to do to get back on track.
Is there a cure for alcoholism?
No. Isn’t it shocking? It is a matter of simple understanding. A cure for alcoholism would be defined as treating somebody and making him drink moderately. This is not possible. You can make a pickle out of cucumber but you can’t a cucumber out of a pickle. However, when it comes to quitting alcohol, a comprehensive treatment is available. Alcoholism can be treated with greater success than many other chronic diseases. Since there is no known cure for alcoholism, recovering alcoholics must avoid all alcoholic beverages and other mood-altering drugs. A return to use is called relapse and is accompanied by a progression of negative consequences.
How can I convince someone with an alcohol problem to get help?
Alcoholics view alcohol as a solution not a problem, so it can be difficult to convince them that they need help. Typically, approaching an alcoholic one-to-one is not an effective way to convince him or her to get help. Methods such as pleading, bargaining, blaming and talking sense to the alcoholic are usually doomed to failure. A better choice is planning a family intervention. Intervention uses the power of a group of family members and friends to confront the alcoholic. This is done with care and concern, preserving the alcoholic’s dignity. With proper training, this approach is effective in getting the alcoholic to agree to get help almost all the time, sooner or later.
Does Treatment work?
Yes, treatment for alcoholism works. Success rates are higher than treatment for most other chronic diseases. However, treatment is not a magic bullet. Alcoholics and the family must work together an ongoing program of recovery to maintain sobriety and make positive life changes. Some alcoholics need several reinforcing trainings before achieving long term sobriety. Follow up treatment and involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous plays a central role in a strong program of recovery.
Hope, ambivalence and fear are common for many people embarking on an Intervention. An Intervention can sometimes be quite stressful. Remember the fundamentals.
First of all, no one can predict with certainty how the someone will react. Acceptance, anger, relief, hope, confusion are all usually present to some degree, and sooner or later each will emerge. How each will manifest prior, during and following Intervention day varies considerably.
Second, reduce your investment in the outcome of what occurs on “Intervention day.” Remember that Intervention day is only one part of the process. Intervention truly starts with the first inquiry for help and lasts well beyond Intervention day. Family and friends continue to learn and change for months and years. It is this knowledge and change that, in the long run, not only help family and friends maintain perspective and resolve, but may also help the person to take the matter seriously and to focus on accepting help.
Finally, the Intervention is always done with love and respect. And no matter what happens on Intervention day, it will most certainly get the person’s attention. If the person refuses to do what is requested, he/she nearly always changes for the better in some way, usually by accepting some form of help later: either later that same day, the next day, the next week, or the next month or two.
In short, it will never be business as usual again for anyone.