The shows Intervention, Addicted, and Dr. Phil have depicted a process called “intervention.” Addiction intervention is a process that done by loved ones of an addicts to help them confront their problem and be propelled to seek treatment under the guidance of an addiction professional. Intervention is typically used as a last resort when all previous efforts have led to no avail; however, intervention can also be beneficial if used earlier in the progression of the disease to prevent the disease from taking its natural progression, which is jail, mental institutions, or death.
If you believe an intervention would benefit your alcoholic family member, there are several steps that you should take to stage an effective intervention.
Find an Interventionist
Do not try to conduct an intervention on your own. Addiction is a complex disease that requires the guidance of an addiction professional, called an “interventionist.” The interventionist will evaluate the family history and personal history of the addict, educate you and the other members of the intervention on the disease of addiction, help you and the other members recognize other unhealthy behaviors in the family system (e.g. co-dependency), guide you and the other members on what to say in the intervention, help you and the other members implement appropriate consequences if the addict refuses treatment, and handle any problems that arise during the intervention. An interventionist is the most vital tool to executing a successful intervention; therefore, it should not be skimped on.
Choose Who Will Be A Part of the Intervention
You must choose the members wisely. Members of the intervention should be people who genuinely care for the addict and whom the addict has a genuine positive regard for. Do not choose people whom the addict has a dislike and/or resentment towards; that will make him or her more agitated than they already will be. You must put your personal feelings toward people aside and consider the addict’s feelings. You should not exclude Aunt Jane from the intervention just because you and her have an acrimonious relationship, especially if she has meaningful relationship with the addict. Keep in mind that it is quality over quantity. You would rather have only two meaningful people participating in the intervention than 12 meaningless people.
Work with the Interventionist
The interventionist will host a pre-intervention, where they will focus on the family system, provide an education on the disease of addiction, help you and the other members construct your letters, and help you and the other members come up with appropriate consequences if the addict refuses treatment. Actively listen to everything that the interventionist says and follow his or her suggestions. The reason you have hired the interventionist is because you cannot solve the problem on your own. Though you may think you know what is best for your loved one and you may be under the influence of your own feelings and judgements, you need to surrender control to your interventionist.
Stick to the Order and Letters
The interventionist will provide you and the other members an order to go in during the intervention. You will write letters to the addict during the pre-intervention and have them approved by the interventionist. It is imperative that you and the other members stick to the order and the letters. There is a meaning behind every detail of the intervention. If one detail is done out of place, the entire process can be derailed.
Follow the Lead of the Interventionist
An intervention can be a tense and emotionally-charged event, especially if it is a surprise intervention. The addict may run and/or throw a temper tantrum. You and the other members should not take any action that deviates from the original plan unless directed by the interventionist. If the interventionist feels the need for someone to run after or console the addict, they will appoint who and when.
The Johnson Model is the model that if depicted in Intervention and is most commonly depicted in pop culture. It is a surprise model of intervention that is based on confrontation. The addict is unaware that the intervention is being held, and the family works with the interventionist to confront the addict and threaten consequences if the addict refuses treatment. This model is decreasing in popularity because research is showing that the surprise and confrontational elements can do more harm than good in some cases.
The invitational model is the model that was depicted in the show Addicted with Kristina Wandzilak. The invitational model does not include surprise or confrontational elements. The addict will be invited to the intervention and can choose to come or not. The interventional still goes on, regardless if the addict comes or not. The addict does not have to be present because the interventionist will focus on collapsing the co-dependent structure. The theory is that if at least the co-dependent structure is collapsed, the active addiction structure will collapse.
The systematic model of intervention also does not use surprise or confrontation. The focus of the intervention is the entire family system and how it contributes to the addict’s addiction instead of the addict being the center of attention.
ARISE stands for (A Relational Sequence for Engagement). This method uses a combination of the Johnson Model and Invitational Model. The ARISE Model uses the formality of the Johnson Model, but not the confrontation and surprise. It has the respectful and compassionate basis that the Invitational Model does.