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Different Reasons People Intervene

Should be simple…but it’s not.

“I don’t understand why an intervention can be so difficult that we need to hire professionals?  If I was surrounded by people who cared most about me, I would listen to what they had to say. Everyone in my family really wants this addiction to end.  We should do this on our own. I think we should have a family meeting and just go over there and talk to him. He’ll go if we all show up at his house together.”


Sounds great… except it rarely happens. It’s easy to say that you would listen if you were in that situation because you’re not an addict. Addiction literally changes the chemistry in the brain, affecting the addict’s ability to make decisions and process emotions. When you add to the this the emotional turmoil that this kind of confrontation can take and the underlying family issues that are often contributing to the addiction in the first place, it can be a recipe for disaster. When families attempt interventions on their own, they usually end one of two ways: the addict storms out and disappears, or they agree to go to rehab and then never actually do.

Everyone isn’t Intervening for the same reasons

Many times we hear from families who have decided, after speaking with us, that they are going to do an intervention on their own.  If everything was logical, interventions would be very easy. If it were simply a matter of presenting our case, then no one would need to hire professional intervention providers.  However, intervention is much more complex than having someone “persuade” your loved one to agree to go to rehab. It is important to acknowledge that the different family members and friends within the intervention team have come together for different reasons. Not everyone who agrees to collectively come together for an intervention, professional or otherwise, is there for the same reason.  Understanding different reasons people intervene is the first step towards coordinating effectively a group who has come together to intervene.

Different People…Different Reasons for Showing Up

There are a myriad of different reasons why members of an addict’s support group show up and decide to participate in an intervention. All of them are valid, and all can be addressed and handled by an experienced professional interventionist, as they have worked with all of these people before and knows how to support them.

  • Fear: This member usually feels that if something isn’t done soon, they will lose their loved one to their addiction. Sometimes this fear is just a sinking feeling, but it can also be a valid concern based upon medical evidence. In other cases, there is a feeling based upon a recent history of dangerous behavior by the substance abuser to themselves or others. In other cases, there is a fear that their loved one will lose their jobs, spouses, reputation, or finances if they don’t get help.
  • Anger: This member is, quite frankly, just sick and tired of dealing with the negative consequences that the substance abuser’s behaviors are bringing to themselves or others. This member can often be upset with other members of the family for continually enabling the addict.
  • Guilt: This member, often a parent or spouse, feels that they are somewhat responsible for the addiction itself, or feels responsible because they didn’t do anything to “prevent it” at an earlier time. These can be unfounded feelings of guilt, or they can be due to past enabling behaviors. An interventionist can help determine which of these is the case, and work through the feelings.
  • Closure: This member has decided to intervene so that they can truly feel that they have “done everything they can” before detaching and moving on to a stage of closure in their own lives.
  • Support: This member may not necessarily be directly affected by the substance abuser, may have had no prior knowledge of the substance abuse until today, or may even have limited contact. However, they have decided to attend to be a support, either to the substance abuser or to other members of the family.
  • Pressure: This member is coming to the intervention reluctantly and is concerned that intervention isn’t necessarily the right path to go down. Whether this is through the fear that things will get worse if the family intervenes or the belief that the problem isn’t bad enough, this member isn’t fully on board.

Advantages of a Professional Interventionist

In essence, it doesn’t really matter if we are here for different reasons, because all of the reasons lead to the same end result: a sober loved one. There are several different reasons why a professional intervention service provides a great advantage.  Here are a few:

  1. An Interventionist is trained.
  2. An Interventionist is not emotionally connected to your family… and you are.  This means that the decisions that need to be made will always be biased when they come from you alone, no matter how well-intentioned.
  3. An Interventionist can be an authority and direct the intervention and outcome.
  4. When one family tries to assume the role of the authority in this endeavor, resentments usually build up among other family members, including the substance abuser themselves.
  5. An Interventionist is usually a former substance abuser themselves and can see an emotionally charged situation in terms of addiction and recovery.

For an interventionist to guide and bring together those that have different reasons to speak to a substance abuser, in a loving way, can be a powerful, uplifting event. Often, just being in the presence of those different people in the room can transform a defiant substance abuser filled with anger, guilt, shame, and remorse into someone willing to accept help unconditionally.

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