What is an intervention?
An intervention is the action taken by family, friends, employer and/or concerned others to actively assist someone to change unacceptable behavior. The problem areas that an intervention typically addresses are addiction to: alcohol and/or other drugs, nicotine, food, the Internet, sex, spending/shopping, and gambling as well as the need for nursing home, medical care, domestic violence, chronic pain and addiction.

Why use intervention?
It was once believed that an individual struggling with addiction or resisting changing unhealthy behaviors had to sincerely want help to get help. The individual had to "hit bottom" before being motivated to change. This, of course, 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.

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, friends and other concerned persons and creates a support network for each member. The support network in turn engages and empowers the individual to grow and change in a positive way.

How do you conduct an intervention?
A three levels approach is utilized to match the level of effort used by the intervention network to the resistance of the individual in order to motivate getting started in treatment. A network of support is formed which will be used to advocate for the person to change his/her behavior. A trained professional who works closely with members of the network facilitates each stage of the intervention.

What occurs in an intervention?
Each level of the intervention has its own goals:

Level I uses motivational techniques designed specifically for telephone coaching. We help you establish a basis of hope, identify whom to invite to the intervention meeting, design a strategy to mobilize the group and teach techniques to successfully invite the individual to the first meeting.

Level II follows, if starting treatment does not occur from the initial efforts. Typically, between two to five face-to-face sessions are held, with or without the individual present, to mobilize the intervention network in developing motivational strategies to reach the individual with the goal of treatment engagement.

In Level III, family and friends set limits and consequences for the individual in a loving and supportive way. By the time the intervention network gets to this point, the individual has been given and has refused many opportunities to enter treatment. Because the individual has been invited to each of these meetings, this final limit setting approach is a natural consequence and does not come as a surprise.

This process is designed to protect and enhance the long-term nature of the family relationships, while at the same time removing the addiction or behavior from controlling the family.

Who can be involved in an intervention?
The support network for an intervention is comprised of family, friends and others with a caring, significant relationship to the individual. All members of the support network must agree to empower the individual to make change, not shame or humiliate him/her because of addictive behavior.