Confidential Assessment

Call: (888) 409-5356

How Does an Intervention Work?
medical review icon

By: Harmony Staff

Clinically Reviewed by Dr. Deja Gilbert, PhD, LMHC, LPC

Updated on 02/24/2022

How Interventions Work

Many people want to know how interventions work. Before answering this question, it is important to learn more about addiction. Most experiences with addiction compare it to a descent. With addiction comes the sensation of falling. The ground giving way. Of a downward pull to an unseen end. Addiction erodes the foundations of our life. It makes us feel like we have nothing to stand on. Nothing to build upon. It feels like there’s nothing solid under our feet. We’re disconnected from anything firm. We have no anchor, no lifeline. Our relationships dissolve. Our career paths disintegrate. Everything we used to know withers away. Our lives become one failure after another. We have no agency, no power, no will. And yet, our observance of these situations might mean a new beginning for us.

The Necessity Of The Bottom

The above description might seem bleak. And it should be. Struggling with substance addiction deserves to be viewed honestly. It’s an ugly, unpleasant, and grotesque lifestyle. However, therein lies the hidden wisdom of hitting the bottom of one’s descent. It’s wise to recognize how far one has fallen. Wisdom requires paying attention. In order to realize that you’ve hit bottom, you must pay attention. You must observe your life, and make conclusions about it. Don’t write this off as trivial. Only people who know they’ve fallen ask for help getting up. Those who acknowledge their ignorance are ready to learn. Only people who admit to being ill will seek out a doctor. The bottom can be an awful place to wake up to. However, knowing you’re there means you’re ready to begin healing and recovering. It means you’re ready to attempt to put your life back together.

Trapped By Codependency

Loving a person who struggles with substance abuse is not easy. It demands a significant amount of emotional capital. It might require sacrifices of time, money, and energy. Time remains the most important resource, as it cannot be renewed. Ask yourself some questions. about your relationship with your struggling loved one. Questions like:

  • How secure is your relationship?
  • Do they respect your boundaries?
  • Are you anxious about, or obsessed with, pleasing them?
  • Do you spend so much time caring for them, that you no longer care for yourself?
  • How does their attitude affect your self-esteem?

These questions have no simple answers. Use them as a way to gauge your own specific situation. In wanting to help and support your loved one, are you preventing them from hitting bottom? If so, your relationship may be codependent. Codependency describes a one-sided relationship where one partner pours all of their wherewithal into the other partner with little hope of reciprocity.

The Drowning Addict

A typical protocol for open water drowning rescues works like this:

  • Reach
  • Throw
  • Row
  • Go

If the drowning person is close to shore, reaching is the best option. The rescuer should extend an object – hook, pole, backboard, oar – to the drowning person. If that fails, the rescuer will throw the drowning person a rope with a flotation device attached. Both of these steps are dependent on the drowning person being A) conscious, and B) calm enough to hold on to the rescue device. If the throwing step fails, then the rescuer will row in a boat to the drowning person (hopefully while wearing a life vest). If the rescuer is unable to pull the drowning person into the boat, they will have 1 option remaining. The final step, go, means that the rescuer has nothing between them and the drowning person but their own body. They are in the water with the drowning victim. This is the most dangerous kind of rescue. It is the step at which most rescuers die. At this point, it is often to the rescuer’s benefit to allow the drowning victim to lose consciousness. The rescuer stands a much better chance of rescuing the dead weight of an unconscious person than of a panicking person.

Evaluate Your Self First

Your struggling loved one needs rescuing. That is not in dispute. With this being said, you must evaluate your own position. You have worth. You deserve safety, stability, and security too. If you dive in headfirst to rescue your addict, will they listen to you? Will they steady themselves and allow you to pull them to safety? Or will they thrash about, grab hold of you, and pull you down with them? The best thing for them is for them to hit bottom. To stop thrashing. To be so overcome by fear that they yield. An addict at the bottom will yield and accept help. But one who isn’t there yet will live in denial. And likely pull down anyone who tries to help them.

How Interventions Work – Lifting The Bottom

You’ve likely heard the term intervention before. It assembles together the family of a person struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD). This pre-arranged meeting ought to be overseen by a licensed counselor, therapist, or religious professional. A successful intervention helps the person with SUD meet the bottom of their descent sooner than usual. The facilitator will instruct the person with SUD to listen, without interrupting, to his/her family members. Each family member shall have a chance to speak about how what impact the addiction has had on them. This process, though messy and uncomfortable, compels the person with SUD to hit their bottom earlier in their life. It offers them an awareness of the damage their addiction causes to them, their family, and their lives. It can give them the motivation to change. They can gain perspective on the problem. And with input from family, and guidance from the intervention facilitator, develop a plan for corrective action.

What Happens After The Intervention?

The facilitator, the family, and the person with SUD should each have an understanding of the next steps. All parties should know the details of a treatment plan. Treatment recovery options will vary, depending on the situation. Addictions to opiates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines may require medical detox with a doctor. Beyond that, treatment options include (from most restrictive to least restrictive) partial hospitalization (Partial Care), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and outpatient programs (OPs). If you’d like more information on how interventions work and treatment options, call Harmony Healing Center now at 848-253-6065.

Contact us for help today

Ready to start? We’re here for you.

(888) 978-1697

Send us a message

Your Name