Many people, by now, have seen the television show Intervention and been exposed to the basic concept, of mobilizing the family, to raise the addict / alcoholic’s “bottom”.  While the show often reflects the highlights of an intervention, it is unable to capture the time, effort and emotional energy required to prepare for the actual confrontation. By the time the family is ready to do an intervention, they have exhausted all their best efforts.  Members often feel angry and hopeless. It is during this initial contact with the family that the interventionist must create a picture of hope for the family, convincing them, that the behaviors they’ve seen are directly related to the effects the substance (s) has had on their loved one’s brain. With treatment, they will reclaim the person they remember but have lost.   It is important to allow them to vent their anger, fear, hopelessness and equally their sense that they are betraying the addict/alcoholic by meeting secretly.

Having provided intervention services across the country since 1982, I have seen the many ways interventions can go “south” and felt the incredible fear and courage it takes for a family to support one another through the relatively predictable stages of intervention preparation.

It is imperative that the family be told at the outset, that now that the interventionist’s work has begun, they are very likely to see a significant improvement in their loved one’s behavior.  The dynamic of this change is, likely, rooted in the abuser’s finely tuned antennae that “something is different.”  If the family is not informed of this phenomenon, they will, likely decide to abort the intervention preparation because he/she’s “getting better.”

I, recently, did an intervention in Texas, in which, the addict took one look in the door and bolted.  By identifying the leverage that the family held, we were able to gradually reconnect and convince her that she couldn’t run forever and that the family was committed to this new path of family recovery.  After a few hours, she was on a plane destined to California with us to enter our Ranch Program.  We knew that she loved animals and that, ultimately, proved to be the “carrot” that induced her surrender. But it was the family solidarity that formulated the “stick”.  A year later she is clean, sober and has a completely changed life.

Ultimately, an intervention is a strategic cooperation, between those who care for an addict with the singular goal of getting the substance abuser to enter a residential treatment facility.  It is not the arena to work out issues between family members or to address anyone else’s “dysfunctions or issues”.  It is the interventionist’s job to keep the task focused on the goal while helping members resolve the inevitable feelings of betrayal, anger, fear and hopelessness.

Interventions vary greatly in price from $2,000.00 to $15,000.00. For an experienced interventionist the base price should not exceed $2500.00 with expenses added onto that figure.

Rocky Hill, MA, NCIC II

Executive Director | Hill Alcohol and Drug Treatment |