The Good and Bad of A&E Intervention

With the recent popularity of the A&E Intervention show, more and more people are becoming aware of the process of intervention and, as such, are understanding that there is hope whereas there was little before.

Unfortunately, as with all things, there are always two sides…the good and the bad. As the largest intervention service provider in North America, we at Intervention Services feel that we would be remiss if we did not take the time to explain, in our opinion, both sides of the story.

The Good about A&E Intervention TV Show

Having a loved one addicted to drugs can be such an emotionally draining situation but it is also a dynamic of secrets. Take any small town in America, take any average family and you will surely find a drug or alcohol problem.

Maybe directly with a son, daughter or father; but sometimes indirectly where it is the cousin, the fiancee, employee or the friend. Almost everyone is somehow affected by the damage created by a drug or alcohol user, sometimes without being aware of it at all. And very often we keep it a secret.

Who wants to go to work each day and say “Hey Bob, did I mention that my son smokes crack?”. Surely no one. How often do we go to church and sit next to someone who very well may have the same problem with their loved one, but we say nothing.

Sometimes out of shame, sometimes because we have been brought up not to “air the family’s dirty laundry”. Sometimes it is just too overwhelming to talk about. The first and most important impact of the A&E Intervention tv show was that it showed families that they weren’t alone.

In addition to the rich and famous, it shows average people in the grips of their loved one’s addiction.

The second most important thing that A&E Intervention addresses is hope. Prior to the advent of the show, many people thought that there were few options. Their primary solution was to wait, pray and hope. Hope that one day their loved one decides to change.

As powerful of a feeling as hope can be, unfortunately when coupled with the helplessness of being the family member or friend of someone addicted to drugs, hope can sometimes feel futile and can actually be a liability. Intervention showed us that there is a possible solution.

Instead of doing nothing, waiting, praying and hoping, there was a constructive method that could empower a nearly helpless family. By eliminating the helplessness, true hope then becomes a powerful tool.

The third aspect of the show is awareness. Bringing to light the possibilities of intervention, families now have the ability to search for solutions. Although being used for over 30 years, there has been very little information available on the existence of structured interventions.

Due to the popularity of the A&E Intervention, people now have a greater understanding of what an intervention is, how it is done and a rough idea of the concept behind it.

The Bad About A&E Intervention Show

With all the benefits, however, there is also a downside. The sad reality with television is that it has its way of making things seem too simple. Cutting, editing and producing so that a lifetime of addiction and its resultant intervention can be compressed into an hour-long show has its price.

In our opinion, the first liability of A&E Intervention is that it can give families a false idea of what a successful intervention is actually about. We watch for an hour the terrible damage wrought by an addict, the pain of the family members and we wait – we wait for that final 10 minutes where the big question lingers.

  • Will he/she accept treatment or not?
  • Will they go?
  • Will treatment even work?

The unfortunate reality is that families are often given the impression that the purpose of an intervention is to “talk an addict into treatment”. In actuality, a truly successful intervention is much more than that. It is an empowering of the family, an analysis of enabling behaviors, an understanding of the addiction and its manipulations and a true change within the family dynamics.

Getting an addict to agree to treatment is nowhere near as important as changing the family dynamics so that they are empowered enough to handle the addiction in the following weeks, months and years after the intervention. Getting someone sober is much more important than just sobering someone up.

We believe that the second liability of the show is that with the limitations and time constraints, very rarely does the viewer understand the background work involved. An intervention is NOT the 15 minutes of the confrontation. It is the days leading up the confrontation itself.

At Intervention Services, we average 6 hours of consultation with the family members before even speaking with the addicted person.

To us, the third liability of A&E Intervention is that again due to time constraints, very rarely is the viewer educated on the true solutions found within the intervention process. Where is the education on enabling behaviors, addiction manipulation, and tough love concepts?

Very possibly the family within the show has been educated, but have you? Without proper education and understanding an intervention becomes an ultimatum. Ultimatums are rarely an ideal solution within an addiction dynamic.

Our opinion about the Intervention TV Show

At the end of the day, what is the overall opinion of Intervention by the specialists at Intervention Services? Although there are some minor liabilities that cannot be avoided with television, we feel that the A&E Intervention show has been a great tool for both educating and making viewers aware of the process of intervention.

We are both grateful and impressed with the show’s ability to inform and give families hope. Many times the families that contact us begin the conversation with “I watch the show every day and it brings me to tears”. We all have our part to play in the battle with addiction and we formally wish the producers, writers and interventionists on the show continued success and hope that they continue the good fight.


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