Who Should Be Involved in an Intervention?

In the past, there has been a belief that only someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can make the decision to get the help they need to recover. The concept of “hitting rock bottom” – or losing those things in their life that matter, such as family, jobs and relationships – was held as the turning point for anyone facing addiction. Studies have shown, however, that this is not necessarily the case. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that those members of the prison population, for instance, who are forced to undergo drug addiction treatment have just as good results as those members of the general population who voluntarily take part in recovery programs. The difference between someone in prison and a member of the general population is that the latter must often be the individual to physically check into a treatment program. An intervention by family members and friends can sometimes raise “rock bottom” for someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol and convince them to get help as soon as possible.

Deciding to Plan an Intervention Can Be a Difficult Decision

One of the key aspects of an intervention is the ultimatum. When a family or friends get together to plan and carry out an intervention, they are establishing a set of ground rules by which all parties must agree to live. If the individual refuses to get help for their addiction disease, the interveners commit to no longer providing financial assistance, housing or food for the addicted person. Of course, the reason these friends and family members wish to intervene in the first place is, generally, because they love this person and they do not want to see them suffer. An intervention, because it involves many people, can offer the reinforcement of a group dynamic to help each individual maintain their own strength.

An example may be the mother of the addicted individual. A mother loves her child and it hurts her to think that her son or daughter may have no money for food or a place to stay. When the addicted individual implores for her to provide a safe place, or a few dollars for a meal, she may be unable to withstand the onslaught of emotions that the request brings up in her. Having her spouse, her other children, even friends or extended family members to help her overcome – to tell her she is doing the right thing by being firm and strong – may help her maintain her resolve.

Who Should Be at the Intervention?

There are many individuals in a person’s life that can be of benefit in a planned intervention. Family members, friends, coworkers, employers…the list goes on. The important thing is that each person who is involved has a genuine relationship with the person suffering from addiction. A favorite high school teacher who had terrific influence on the individual may be willing to participate, however, it may not be necessary to invite teachers from elementary school. A member of the clergy might be a good choice, if the subject of the intervention has a strong faith in a particular religion. In some cases, having a firm belief in a power higher is an established tool in recovery; however, if the individual does not have the belief set in place, there may not be a need to include the family priest or reverend.

When deciding whom to include in the intervention, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the individual have a true interest in the welfare of my family member?
  • Does my family member respect this person?
  • Does the individual have any influence over the decisions my family member makes?
  • Does the individual have anything with which to bargain? Do they provide money, shelter or otherwise enable my family member, including with their friendship?
  • Does this person have the strength and fortitude to carry through with the consequences should my family member decide not to seek help?

Establishing Benefits and Consequences and Living Up to Them

There are two sides to every coin. When it comes to interventions, there are consequences to relationships and support avenues when the addicted individual chooses not to seek help. If they decide to continue using drugs or alcohol, the interveners must be prepared to cut off all enabling behaviors. On the other hand, if the individual does decide to get the help they need to survive, there should be benefits above and beyond getting healthy and learning to live a sober lifestyle. When you choose individuals to participate in the intervention, establish that they are going to help your family member and provide them with the emotional reinforcement they may need after treatment, as well as before.

To find out more about planning an intervention and the help that we here at Axis can provide for you and your family, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our trained and dedicated staff members are available to answer any questions you may have.

Further Reading