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What, Why and How of a Structured Intervention

What is Intervention?

In its simplest form, intervention on alcoholism or drug addiction happens each time the dependent person is confronted with his/her use or related behavior. This form of intervention is inadequate and counterproductive. Following such an encounter the addiction worsens and the family and friends of the dependent become angry and frustrated and may avoid further confrontation out of fear of the dependent’s reaction.

What is Structured Intervention?

In structured intervention, the family, friends and/or employer of the chemically dependent person are led, as a group, to a point at which they can effectively and constructively confront the dependent and thereby interrupt the progress of their disease. The intervention process requires a strong commitment on the part of the concerned individuals and the interventionist. In effect, a team is formed to intervene ON the alcoholic/addict about his/her problem. The structured team approach is the most effective form of intervention and while there is some risk involved, the process itself and the work that leads up to it are acts of love, courage and hope.

Why Intervene?

Alcoholism is a progressive, terminal disease characterized by delusion and denial. Left to his/her own devices, the addicted individual is doomed to continue their downward spiral. They have a disease that makes them think they do not have a disease! We believe that the belief that an alcoholic/addict must “hit bottom” and ask for help is a deadly myth. Studies have shown that the chance for recovery remains the same no matter how the person reaches treatment. An intervention, properly done, serves to raise the bottom, create a crisis, break through the denial system and lead the dependent person to the help that they need to begin recovery. This method also allows him to be a part of the decision to seek treatment, thus relieving anger and promoting cooperation. Intervention works, as does treatment.

How Does a Structured Intervention Work?

In a structured intervention certain elements must be present. The most important of these are a group of two or more caring, concerned people who are willing to confront the dependent with his/her behavior in a non-judgmental and specific way. These concerned people must be well versed on their role in the intervention and willing to take risks necessary to help the dependent person. Done properly, an intervention is a carefully orchestrated and controlled event in which virtually nothing is left to chance.

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