Drug and alcohol interventions are one way to get a person with an addiction to confront the consequences that their actions have on their work, family, and other aspects of their lives. The intervention is usually a meeting of close friends, family, and employers who are concerned and hurt by the alcoholic or drug addict.
This action is usually prompted by the fact that alcoholics and other kinds of addicts will not admit that they have a problem even if they have lost their jobs, ruined relationships, or their life as they once knew it.
During a typical intervention process, an interventionist — i.e. a person who is an expert in coordinating and guiding interventions — arranges a meeting. The intervention meeting is usually organized without the alcoholic’s or drug addict’s knowledge, and without their participation.
Once the meeting is set up, the addict or alcoholic is usually brought to the intervention meeting under false pretenses. In this intervention meeting, the concerned people confront them about how their substance abuse has affected their own lives. In a traditional intervention, the addict and alcoholic are given the choice to attend treatment or they will not be allowed to participate in the lives of their concerned loved ones. The successful intervention is commonly ruined by referring the addict or alcoholic to an alcohol and drug treatment rehabilitation center that is chosen on the basis of business connections rather than on clinical excellence.
Below, we highlight how an intervention may present a danger to the lives of everyone involved. These are drawn from psychological research regarding the dangers inherent in interventions. We also present guidelines on how to create the best intervention process.
Alcoholics and other kinds of addicts will not admit that they have a problem even if they have lost their jobs, ruined relationships, or their life as they once knew it.
Alcoholics and addicts suffer from a defective psychological defense mechanism called denial. Denial is supposed to save us from shock and extreme psychological hardship. For example, if we were to experience a terrible accident where one of our loved ones died, we would have a feeling of not being in touch with reality. This kind of dream state protects us from being overwhelmed by the pain that we would experience if not for denial. It is the predominant psychological defense mechanism in addiction and alcoholism. But, instead of helping the addict or alcoholic protect their sanity, denial helps them to ignore shame and guilt, but also the reality of the damage that they are causing themselves and others.
Fact: Research shows that denial cannot be encountered with confrontation. Strong evidence suggests that confrontation strengthens the degree of denial that an addict or alcoholic may be experiencing.
The intervention meeting is usually organized without the alcoholic’s or drug addict’s knowledge, and without their participation.
The fact that the person is ambushed during the intervention process creates problems. Very strong evidence shows that when a person doesn’t feel a part of a decision making process, they don’t buy into its effectiveness. Therefore, the alcoholic or addict will resent being ambushed, will experience it as a violation of their personal freedom, and will not become invested in their own treatment and recovery process, even when they are coerced into it. This is one of the biggest challenges in an intervention; one that is dangerous and yet inevitable. It therefore demands a great skill from the interventionist to overcome this initial hurdle that could derail treatment.
Fact: Research shows that a personal investment in treatment is the main indicator of the success of that treatment.
The addict or alcoholic is usually brought to the intervention meeting under false pretenses.
Successful psychotherapy is founded on trust. The fact that alcoholics and addicts are drawn into the intervention meeting under false pretenses presents a very difficult situation. The spirit of the intervention meeting is to confront the addict or alcoholic with the many ways they hurt themselves and others because of their substance abuse. In the intervention, they are being confronted with their tendency to not be honest with themselves and others.
Fact: Confronting people with their dishonesty by having lured them into the intervention meeting under false pretenses is contradictory and can affect the success of the therapy, and the alcohol and drug rehab treatment that needs to follow the intervention.
The successful intervention is commonly ruined by referring the addict or alcoholic to an alcohol and drug treatment rehabilitation center that is chosen on the basis of business connections rather than on clinical excellence.
Unfortunately, many successful interventions are ruined when the alcoholic or addict are referred to a treatment center that is chosen on the basis of business arrangements between the treatment center and the interventionist making the recommendation. The best interventionists refer their clients to treatment centers that:
- Follow a philosophy and have a staff skillful in breaking through the denial of the addict or alcoholic in a non-confrontational way.
- Staff that know how to encourage and motivate the addict or alcoholic to become personally invested in treatment.
- Staff that are skilled in helping the addict or alcoholic overcome negative feelings of anger, anxiety, depression and resentment resulting from the intervention process.
Avoiding the potential pitfalls listed above can result in an intervention that can lead to successful addiction and mental health treatment. Treatment that itself can lead to mental and emotional fitness. Interventions can be dangerous, or can help a person overcome the illness of addiction. We hope that, empowered with this information, you may lead your loved one to success.