What is an Addiction Intervention and What You Need to Know

An intervention is an organized attempt to arrest a person’s addiction to a chemical substance(s) or chronic and harmful behaviors. The goal is to force the addicted individual into accepting help typically in the form of medically supervised detoxification and inpatient treatment.

Completing a successful intervention requires:

  • Sponsorship
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Commitment
  • Compassion
  • Boundaries

Interventions are commenced when someone close to the addicted individual has become concerned enough about the addict's well­being or angry enough to demand change. This person is the sponsor and is typically someone with skin in the game, such as the spouse, parent, or employer.

The leader and sponsor may be the same person if they can manage the role. Sometimes the sponsor is too emotionally invested in the addicted individual and is not best suited to make management decisions. The best person may someone slightly more removed and who can afford the time required to identify the appropriate treatment option and juggle logistics. A professional interventionist can remove a great deal of this burden.

There are a lot of moving parts to an intervention and organization is paramount. The leader must identify and qualify the participants, schedule a venue, make transportation arrangements, locate a treatment center that accepts the right insurance or is within budget if being paid for out­ of­ pocket, and of course, be the appropriate level of care. Treatment centers spend millions of dollars marketing their product so use caution. A failed treatment experience could result in unimagined consequences.

Commitment is probably the biggest consideration in planning an intervention. Interventions are difficult on many levels: financially, emotionally, threatening and delivering on consequences and more. If you're not deeply committed to successfully getting the addicted individual into treatment then go back to the drawing board. If you’re not completely committed to upholding the sanctions you’re about to threaten, take a step back. A failed intervention could yield tragic consequences not to mention the unlikelihood of staging a successful intervention in the future. If you’re not in a position to enforce the consequences . . . don’t make the threat.
It’s very hard to force a person into treatment, therefore compassion may be your best route forward. The last thing you want is confrontation regardless of how angry you are. The desired mood is safety. You are creating an environment in which it is safe for the addicted individual to accept help. Do not propose sanctions until diplomacy has been fully exhausted.

Boundaries or lack thereof may be the reason you're having an intervention in the first place. Few people are good at implementing healthy boundaries especially when it comes to children and family members. Separating your love for someone from the problem in order to enforce the rule of law is a talent not widely spread. On the flip side think about how great it feels to uphold a position without anger or emotional baggage.

Keeping good boundaries is an essential component of a successful intervention. Practice implementing your boundaries without getting emotional. If there’s an interventionist managing the process take the opportunity to discuss boundaries with them. The addicted person is not going to like having boundaries implemented. The addict's modus operandi is to be running the show not grateful servant to the people.

South Florida Intervention offers exclusive solutions for families struggling with the devastating effects of addiction. If someone you know needs help for addiction, contact us at marc@southfloridaintervention.com or 561-961­-4033.