An intervention is an effort for the family or friends of a person suffering from addiction to convince that person to acknowledge his or her addiction and agree to rehabilitation treatment. This process is generally facilitated by a professional known as an interventionist. Interventionists are typically trained in psychology, social services, addictions counseling, or theology, and can help set up an intervention without alienating the addict or making him or her defensive or angry with his or her family or friends.
To be eligible for an intervention, a person must suffer from some type of addiction that is harming his or her health or hindering his or her ability to effectively function in everyday life. Addictions can range from substances like alcohol or drugs to gambling, binge eating, self-starvation, or even addiction to the internet or shopping. An addict’s friends or family will usually collaborate together to come up with a plan to get the addict help.
The most common first step of the intervention process is for the family and friends of the addict to contact the interventionist. After meeting with the addict’s family and friends, an interventionist will usually request that each person compose a letter to the addict detailing how that person’s addiction has negatively affected that people in his or her life. The letters are meant to be read aloud during the actual intervention so each person has something prepared to say to the addict during the intervention. By detailing how the addiction is negatively affecting the addict’s loved ones, it is thought to increase the likelihood of the addict taking the requests for treatment seriously and not feeling attacked.
An interventionist will generally discuss the planning of the actual intervention with the family and friends and decide on a neutral environment for the event to take place in. He or she will guide them through the process and what types of reactions to expect from the addict. These reactions can range to anger, denial, or acceptance that he or she has a problem and is willing to deal with it. Friends or family will generally agree to issue an ultimatum to the addict and threaten to withdraw any financial or personal support if he or she does not enter into rehabilitation treatment.
Before an intervention, the people involved are advised to keep it secret from the addict so he or she cannot prepare for it or avoiding showing up. Someone will usually be appointed to ensure the person shows up to the location of the event. Once all the participants are at the location, the interventionist will announce what the meeting is for and ask everyone to take turns reading their letters aloud. Afterward, the addict will have to make a decision to enter treatment within a specific time period. If he or she refuses, the other participants are expected to uphold their promises to withdraw support as a means of demonstrating that they will not enable the destructive behavior. The participants may attempt another intervention at a later date if desired.