Why Intervention

There is an adage: “You can't get an addictive person to quit using unless they want to.” This adage is based on myth. We believed this for years and buried many a fine but sick person. We now have a strategy called “intervention” which is designed to interrupt the otherwise progressive and often fatal illness of addiction.

Often those close to a chemically dependent person will shy away from the prospect thinking that an intervention is disloyal; a way of ganging up, to plan a confrontation without the person having any knowledge of the plans. They say to force a person to go for treatment is unfair and won't work. That simply isn't true. Now consider the following: If we were observing a tumorous growth at the side of our loved one's head and our loved one was not acknowledging their condition would we say that we could not help him until they wanted help for the tumor? Certainly not. We would do whatever was in our power to get our loved one to a professional for help.
Stepping Stones — Interventions in Seattle, WA
One of the major symptoms of addiction is denial. Denial is simply an inability of the afflicted one to recognize their condition. If they cannot perceive that their using is either a primary problem or a way to self-medicate their pain it is unlikely that they will just quit. They use to cope with their problems and to alleviate stress which in many cases is actually caused by their excessive usage in the first place. It's the old dilemma; what came first the chicken or the egg.

So we are faced with a decision, to act or not. We also need to ask ourselves: “What will happen to our loved one if we don't tell them what we see?” Our addicted person is delusional. A delusional person is one who does not know they are deluded. How are they going to get any insight into their condition if we don't tell them? We must remember their reality is distorted; they are not of this world. We need to overwhelm their denial with reality, to present reality in a way that they can receive it.

A skillful intervention requires knowledge of the condition and some emotional stability on the part of the interveners. It also requires a presentation of concrete and specific facts about the person's substance usage or their behavior. Generalizations, moralizing, and judgments have no place in an intervention. Our addicted person will become defensive and even less receptive to what is being said.

A person skilled in facilitating interventions, in my opinion, is a must. Interventions, while highly successful, are also potentially volatile. Interventions must be well planned and a trained facilitator can offer the objectivity you lack simply because you are emotionally hooked. The facilitator will be able to keep the intervention from dissolving into a screaming match with the addicted person taking control.

Addicted people make choices that are destructive to relationships. Partners of these people also make destructive choices in their attempts to restore the physical, emotional and spiritual norms of the relationship. In so doing they become as much a part of the maladjustment of addiction as the addicted person. It's important to note that intervention is not a happening but rather a process during which time the family members learn about the disease and their unwitting complicity in this dysfunction; the ways they have aided and abetted the addicted person, believing their actions helpful or necessary. During the process, they learn that one of the ways their loved one will recover is to have an opportunity to experience the consequences of their behavior. Family members and friends must learn to stop bailing their loved one out of trouble and to stop covering up for him or her. What they may have forgotten is that the family too has rights.

In order to give the addicted person the insight that they are lacking and the kind of love they truly need, those close to them must first heal themselves. This they cannot do without help, for they have, without realizing it, lost perspective. A call to an intervention professional is the first step to freedom.

Joyce Sundin


What is Intervention

An intervention is the action taken by family, friends, employer and/or concerned others to actively assist someone to change unacceptable behavior. Stated another way, it's to interrupt the progression of addiction. The problem areas that typically are addressed could include addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs, nicotine, food, the internet, sex, spending/shopping, and gambling. This process can also be utilized for assisting people to accept nursing home or medical care, domestic violence issues and chronic pain associated with addiction.

It was once believed that an individual struggling with addiction or resisting changing unhealthy behaviors had to sincerely want help in order to get help. The person had to “hit bottom” before being motivated to change. This, we know, is not always true.

No person can easily survive without support from someone close to him/her. Interventions are based on this fact. A person will continue to live his/her life of active addiction or an unhealthy behavior when friends and family offer inappropriate support. This type of support typically allows the addiction or behavior to continue. In most cases, family and friends feel that they are protecting the individual, but in fact, they are creating an unhealthy support system for the person. They are unwittingly prolonging their loved one's addiction

The intervention process addresses the unhealthy support system that allows the addiction to progress. Addiction breeds secrecy and isolation, both for the individual and for those who care about him/her. The intervention process brings together family and others to create a support network for each member. The support network in turn engages and empowers the individual to grow and change in a positive way.