An Intervention is the act of entering a situation in order to change its course. The majority of patients enter treatment for their addictions voluntarily. For some the depth of denial is so great that they continue on the destructive path of drinking or using drugs or engaging in addictive behaviours oblivious to the damage they are leaving in their wake. Although the family, friends and colleagues may have made comments or even threats about the behaviour it is not enough to break the cycle. Something else needs to be done before the inevitable consequences of broken lives, marriages, families and even, possibly, premature death. This is where interventions are a vital part of the addictions treatment process.
Talking to alcoholics and addicts in a rational manner is often useless or even counterproductive. In other cases the alcoholic or addict may agree with observation that his behaviour is harmful to himself and others. He may agree with the need for change and in some cases even make an attempt to relinquish or moderate his drinking or using. A relapse and repetition of the same cycle, sometimes dozens of times often follows this. Such people manifest remorse, guilt and a determination to “do better next time” but the behaviour recurs despite their apparent insight and desire to behave differently.
Those of us around such alcoholics and addicts become frustrated, angry and often feel hopeless. We know they need help yet are not sure how to act when they continue to insist they are “just fine”. The alcoholic or addict possesses exceptional skills in deflecting the focus, pointing out our shortcomings, dragging up old conflicts or simply walking out in a huff. After being confronted many will engage in still more acting out behaviour to self-medicate the strong feelings of shame, hurt and resentment.
Addiction causes people who are not naturally that way to become progressively more self-centred, inconsiderate, dishonest and defensive. They may experience unpredictable mood swings, outbursts of emotional and sometimes physical violence. Those who care about them often do not know what to do but to stand helplessly by and watch them self-destruct. We wait and pray for this person to “hit bottom”, before their out of control behaviour leads to tragedy.
The process of Intervention gives hope to those who care about the alcoholic/addict – a process by which they can express their concern in a structured and focused format. A well-organised and properly conducted intervention has been the first step in many alcoholics and addicts finally realising recovery.
An Intervention consists of a group of close friends and family members who present their observations and concerns in a non-judgmental manner. This is done with the guidance of an Interventionist, in a controlled, objective and systematic fashion. This approach can overcome the denial and delusion of the alcoholic/addict and presents a unified front of support and love.
The purpose of the intervention is to break through the alcoholic’s powerful denial and defence system – and face him with the reality of his situation. The collective impact of the facts coupled with the strong emotions of people who care for him can temporarily silence the denial and connect with the person’s soul.
A properly conducted intervention is confrontational but also deeply caring and supportive. Each participant first affirms the worth of the alcoholic/addict and their positive feelings for him, which are the only reason they have agreed to participate in this painful process. The goal of the intervention is to get the alcoholic/addict into treatment immediately. Experience shows that promises of reform, sincere and often tearful, seldom hold up.
Interventions and the involvement of families, friends and colleagues are proving to be an essential part of engaging those suffering from the illness of addiction in treatment. However an intervention needs to be skilfully conducted in order to bring all those affected together, singing from one hymn sheet, and all fully aware of the nature of the problem. Often it is a lack of knowledge or the depth of the family denial that jeopardises a successful outcome from an intervention. Interventions take time and often it is not just a case of confronting and packing them off to treatment. This seldom works.
Whilst Nova Vida does not conduct interventions themselves we do have experience of working with appropriately qualified and professionally trained and experienced interventionists around the world who we will recommend to you.
If you feel we could help to intervene in the spiral of addiction affecting somebody close to you or a work colleague please contact the Nova Vida Recovery Team. We are here to help.
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