Intervention is a technique that was originated by Vernon Johnson
of the Johnson Institute in Minnesota. Mr. Johnson's original
idea was to create a "controlled crisis" for the Alcoholic
who was reluctant to enter into treatment. This type of Intervention
was then modified to address all crisis situations. Intervention,
when conducted by a trained professional, is 96% successful
in convincing a reluctant person to enter into treatment.
For many years the common thinking was that a substance abuser
or chemically dependent person…be it alcohol, illegal
street drugs or prescription medications…had to reach
bottom and call out for help before anything could be done for
them. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a way, an
intervention is simply the raising of that bottom so that the
chemically dependent don’t spiral further toward self-destruction.
You might compare it to a loved one standing in the middle of
the road with a truck heading right for them. Would you stand
idly by and watch them being run down? Of course not! You would
scream and holler at them to get out of the way. You might even
dash onto the highway yourself, and push them to safety. That
is the essence of an intervention.
Intervention breaks through the person's denial by approaching
several of his/her defense mechanisms all at once. Removing
or short-circuiting the person's defense mechanisms allows the
family to present the truth about his/her problem in a calm,
rational and loving manner.
A well-conducted intervention is objective, unequivocal, nonjudgmental
and caring in the presentation of specific facts. It is empathy…not
to be confused with sympathy. You may express your understanding
of the problem, but you most certainly don’t sympathize
with the problem. The problem is the PROBLEM. The person IS
NOT the problem.
Why now? The longer the delay, the longer the person will suffer
and the more life threatening the disease will become. That
said, it is unwise to charge into an intervention without careful
preparation and the guidance of a professional interventionist.
Why you? Just the fact that you have researched the idea shows
that you care. After all, isn’t it reasonable to expect
loved ones and friends to care about someone who is sick?
A successful intervention has nothing to do with controlling
the behavior of a person with this kind of problem. Instead,
it provides you with positive steps to take. These steps help
you to do all that you can do to offer a serious and effective
gift of help to someone you care about.
It can be successful for you as well, because there's one thing
that we're sure about; although each person is unique, the process
of addiction is not. Furthermore, the process of recovery is
a simple one, provided the patient follows a professional's
It should also be noted that several problems arise when a family
attempts to conduct an intervention on their own. Since the
family has not been trained in the proper format or even the
appropriate language of an intervention, the process often breaks
down into an argument and confrontation leading to a total breakdown
and failure. We have witnessed it time and again, the distraught
and disappointment left over when a family unsuccessfully attempts
an intervention by themselves.
Normal thinking does not have any effect on the Problem. You
can’t argue logic with someone who is simply illogical.
The Problem is a disease with four progressive stages. Once
someone has reached the fourth stage, they no longer have the
ability to control the problem…Problem is controlling
them. Actually, the Problem feeds off normal thinking and reactions
by enticing the patient into a pattern of denial.
Almost without exception, the more deeply seeded the problem
becomes within the client, the less likely the client is able
to realize that there is any problem at all. This is denial.
The problem/addiction also uses this tool to remain active and
viable within the patient. In this way, the problem/addiction
can mask its insidious spiral of death and destruction. It makes
the patient feel that everything is really OK. This is where
the rationalization we were talking about comes into play. Through
the use of denial, the problem/addiction makes the patient think
that they are really just like everybody else. The denial essentially
removes the patient from reality. It is probably the strongest
and most finely honed defense mechanism within the arsenal of
THE FEAR FACTOR
President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing
we have to fear is fear itself.” Never were such words
truer than a family faced with the prospect of an intervention.
In fact, the problem/addiction counts on fear as one of its
strongest allies. It uses fear to maintain the inactivity of
the family unit to confront the problem/addiction. This fear
is often quantified by the family members looking at all the
possible negative consequences of a proposed intervention. The
rational of the problem/addiction is as follows: If I can instill
just enough fear in the family, then maybe they will just leave
things the way they are. That way, I can continue destroying
the patient. In this manner, the problem/addiction has become
a parasite with the patient as its host. Again, we cannot directly
control the ultimate actions of the patient. However, by conducting
the intervention, we have the knowledge that we did all that
we could and that we are not going to stop our own healing process
from the problem. However, these are all tolls that we may be
paying for a bridge we never come to.