The conversation sometimes begins like this:
Caller: “I need an intervention right away! Can you send someone over?”
Understandably, families feel desperate about their loved one’s situation and have very legitimate fears for the person’s safety. Many hope that we might swoop in, quickly convince the identified person that he or she needs help, and whisk them off to treatment. Even if this was possible, it may not lead to the desired outcomes. Intervention relies on the power of a group of people who are important to the person with the substance use disorder. While a trained interventionist can provide education, support, and guidance to the group, relying solely on an outsider to come and “fix the problem” may help in the short-term but is likely not sustainable.
Intervention is a process, not an event. During this process, family members and others who care about the person with the substance use disorder become more educated about the disease of addiction, providing them with a common base of information. Intervention team members are assisted in identifying their own role in both the addiction and in ways they can support recovery.
Treatment is not the end but may be part of the beginning of recovery. Family, friends, and co-workers, as well as the individual, need to learn and practice new ways of living and interacting in recovery. In many ways, the intervention team has to be as open to change as they would like the identified person to be. The hope of the intervention process is that it will motivate the person with the substance use disorder to seek help, but in the process, the team members themselves gain valuable information and support and are positively changed by having participated.
If you are a family member, friend, or co-worker thinking about doing an intervention, we encourage you to first attend the PRO-ACT Family Education Program, http://www.councilsepa.org/programs/pro-act/family-education-program/.
If you are interested in training to become an interventionist who helps others to orchestrate interventions using the National Intervention Network model, information about our upcoming Interventionist Training can be found at http://www.councilsepa.org/programs/professional-trainings/interventionist-training/.
Stacey A. Conway, PhD.
Director of Evaluation & Outcomes
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.