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When someone you love develops a problem with drugs or alcohol, it becomes your problem too. Interventions can provide a way for loved ones to gather to confront the addict or alcoholic about his or her addiction together. Successful interventions can lead to speedy enrollment in alcohol and drug recovery programs, offering addicts a way to finally exit the prison of addiction.

Alcohol and Drug Intervention Statistics

In recent decades, interventions have become a mainstay of addiction treatment, functioning as the first pivotal point in recovery. Here are a few of the facts surrounding modern alcohol and drug interventions:

  • According to a study appearing in Counselling Psychology Quarterly, the most successful interventions involve tailoring the event to the individual’s stage of readiness to change.
  • More than 25 million individuals across the United States exhibit signs of alcohol or drug dependency.
  • Interventions by doctors and nurses have been shown to increase tobacco cessation rates, according to research by the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Review Group.
  • According to data provided by the Nursing Clinics of North America, unorthodox techniques such as insistence on treatment can increase the effectiveness of interventions.

Aspects of a Successful Intervention

Staging a successful drug and alcohol intervention can prove both challenging and rewarding. Successful interventions require careful planning, a nonjudgmental approach, and group involvement. Here are a few ingredients of a successful intervention:


Although the barest logistics of alcohol and drug interventions can seem simple at first glance, a lack of streamlined coordination can derail even the most well-intended interventions. Location, attendance, timing, and knowledge of the addict or alcoholic’s schedule all need to be considered when coordinating the intervention. Professional interventionists experienced in intervention direction can often handle coordination for the family of the addict or alcoholic.

A Unified Front

Interventions represent the unification of loved ones in confronting the addicted individual. Anything less than a united front will cause compromise the intervention. Make sure that everyone in attendance is willing to speak straightforwardly and unwaveringly advocate for the need for immediate treatment. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), anticipation of loved ones’ objections and preparation of ways to refute their statements of opposition can also make interventions more likely to be effective.

Individual Preparation

Each participant in the intervention will want to prepare a short statement about how the addict or alcoholic’s behavior has impacted their lives. Have each attendee prepare a written statement or notes to read from, as the emotional atmosphere inherent to interventions can make impromptu delivery a challenge. Speak from your heart and consider the impact the addiction has had on your relationship, as well as the specific financial, occupational and lifestyle consequences the addiction caused you. Resist the impulse to speak on behalf of anyone else, as your personal statement will carry more weight.

Professional Help

Seek help from a professional interventionist. While some specialists work independently, others are contracted by – and can be referred to you by – the alcohol and drug treatment center of your choice. Interventionists can act as facilitators and are adept at handling intervention planning, unforeseen circumstances, intoxicated individuals and logistical transitions to treatment.

Treatment Planning

Before staging an intervention, it’s imperative to seek enrollment for your loved one at a residential treatment center. Often, the window of willingness to enter treatment is brief in nature, requiring swift action in order for the addicted individual to comply. Locate a professional treatment center with a 30-, 60- or 90-day program to ensure the best chances of recovery. Also remember to pack a bag of belongings for the addict or alcoholic and arrange expedient transportation to the treatment center from the intervention locale. Make sure to have an outline of the treatment plan itself, in the event that the addict or alcoholic has questions about the recovery program.

Safe Environment

Safety is integral to successful interventions, both physically and emotionally. Make sure that the intervention is conducted in a location free of weapons and other hazards. Children should be moved to a safe and supervised location before the intervention begins. Ensure a shame-free atmosphere, avoiding yelling, profanity or inciting behavior. Individuals prone to violence should not be invited to attend the intervention as tensions can run high, though they may want to submit a written statement.


After the intervention is over, the family and friends of the addict will have emotional needs of their own. Professional interventionists can debrief loved ones, explaining the dynamics of addiction and providing context for the events that transpired. Regardless of the outcome of the intervention, debriefing should occur for the psychological well-being of those involved.

Understanding the Role of Denial in Addiction

One of the most common misconceptions in situations of drug and alcohol addiction surrounds the concept of denial. Friends, coworkers and family members often find themselves baffled at the alcoholic or addict’s inability to recognize and admit overt symptoms of addiction. However, as a physiologically triggered, protective mental state, denial can be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in the pursuit of sobriety, leading loved ones to erroneously presume denial to be an issue of will or reason. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, addicted individuals themselves often have little actual ability to remove themselves from a denial state.

When physical or emotional stimuli become too painful or threatening for the mind to bear, a state of denial can be triggered. Denial itself often does not involve a lack of logical reasoning, but rather an immersion in faulty logic, exacerbated by a tinted view of reality. With prolonged drug and alcohol use, the brain undergoes a series of changes in its chemical state, altering mood, pain perception, energy levels and in some cases, even automatic crisis responses. Although chemicals – known as neurotransmitters –released by addictive substances generally initiate “positive” responses, the brain adjusts to the continual presence of these chemicals, adapting by altering its own natural chemistry.

In response, the brain itself becomes literally dependent on the continual presence of a substance in order to achieve normal levels of function. Addicts feel a sense of normalcy when using or drinking, only to feel intensely abnormal – often dealing with violent physical withdrawal symptoms, as well as rapid and intense mood and energy depletions – when drugs are suddenly removed. Though the withdrawal state is temporary, addicts and alcoholics simply do not have the experiential touchstone to recognize its fleeting nature.

As a result, the concept of sobriety becomes frightening to the drug- or alcohol-dependent individual. Ultimately, denial functions as a clouded mental reasoning around the topic of addiction, acting as a survival mechanism. The mind “protects” itself from the perceived threat of sobriety by initiating a denial state. Denial itself can take several forms of expression, including historical revisionism, justification, blame-shifting behaviors and minimization.

Beginning to Break Denial

Interventions can set a stage for the initial challenge to – and breaking of – denial that has set in during drug or alcohol addiction. Due to the involvement of friends and family, interventions can trigger emotions strong enough to override the forces of denial. In many cases, the sheer joint force of friends, coworkers, family and professionals is in itself overwhelming to the addict, causing an agreement for treatment.

Additionally, the collective single message sent during interventions gains strength in numbers, challenging the addict’s view of reality when presented with numerous objective sources. Interventions staged in a nonjudgmental atmosphere can also help remove the addict from the perpetual shame cycle inherent to addiction. Finally, the frank statement of the financial, relationship and physical consequences of continuing addiction – often including the threat of overdose or eventual death – can also serve to trigger survival mechanisms that counteract those that have created the denial state.

However, some degree of denial often lingers until physical detoxification has been completed – and in some cases, may even prolong after detox has occurred. Denial doesn’t vanish in an instant, but addiction professionals “chip away” at denial, instead, according to best practices for successful treatment outlined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Successful detoxification allows the body to begin to return to its natural chemical state, removing the fear of sobriety as the brain gains growing independence from reliance on chemicals present in drugs and alcohol. Professional detoxification and therapy are often necessary for denial to fully subside.

The Role of Addiction Treatment Centers in Interventions

Addiction treatment centers often can help facilitate the intervention and enrollment process. Prior to the intervention itself, treatment programs will reserve a place for the addicted individuals in their facility. Center staff will guide families through the insurance and financial process, paperwork and other logistics necessary prior to the intervention. In many cases, drug and alcohol treatment centers have interventionists on staff while others contract out to individual professionals. In either case, most treatment centers can provide you with either intervention services directly or give you a referral to an alcohol and drug interventionist they regularly use.

Depending on the location, time and day of your intervention, many alcohol and drug recovery centers will also provide some form of transportation to treatment. You may want to inquire as to intake hours, to ensure a seamless transition as you schedule your intervention. Supposing the addicted individual acquiesces to treatment, intake, diagnostic testing and enrollment will occur upon arrival at the treatment center.

Beginning the Addiction Intervention Process

Interventions can mark the first, powerful step in breaking the forces of denial, drug addiction and alcoholism. If someone you love has been spiraling into drug use or excessive drinking, Rehabs.com can help connect you to addiction professionals that can help. . We welcome your phone call, any time of day or night, seven days a week. Whether you need a referral to an alcohol and drug recovery center, specialized addiction program, detoxification facility or intervention professional, our addiction hotline counselors can connect you with options and answer any questions you might have

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