Intervention means to interfere in the affairs of another person in order to bring about a positive change. The common use today in the mental health field is to interfere in life of a person who is in a self-destructive cycle. Most of the time, the self destructive cycle has to do with habitual use of alcohol or drugs, yet it could also be self-destructive behaviors such as overeating, gambling and compulsive sexual behavior. If a person is in a self-destructive cycle they will be intervened upon at some point by the legal system, financial institution, employer, spouse or the grave. A planned intervention by loved one’s is a proactive step to stop the self destructive cycle, so that the individual does not need to lose his or her job, get a divorce, go broke or, most importantly, die. Often times, family and friends are resistant to intervening, yet I remind them that it is much better for you to intervene than a prison sentence, bankruptcy court or the grave. The self destructive cycle is not going away, so you may as well do the best you can to assist the person that you love.
Speaking about love, love and care is the only thing that can break through the denial system of someone who is caught in a self-destructive cycle. When I talk about love, I am not referring to passively allowing the addict to have their way, and step on you like a doormat. True love is honest, direct communication from the heart. It is being willing to speak the truth in kindness, even if one is risking the relationship. An intervention is when concerned family and friends have a meeting with the addict and communicate their care and concern about the impact of the self-destructive behavior. Often times, family and friends know there is a problem, yet they do not know what to do or how to approach it. When a trained interventionist leads the group, each individual will be coached on how to communicate to the addict. Lessons learned will not only serve you during the intervention, but also assist you in communicating in the future.
Many ask me, “When is the right time to intervene?” There is not really a good time, because the process is emotional and challenging, yet the love ones need to remember that there will be an intervention. It will be pro-active, or one that happens due to the destructive behaviors running its natural course. The suffering addict does not need to hit bottom, the intervention creates a bottom, and, more often than not, the addict goes for help immediately after the intervention.
An intervention is the most loving thing a person can do for a suffering addict. He or she may not appreciate it at the time, yet after they begin the recovery process, they will tell you, “Thanks for saving my life!”
Dean Sunseri, LPC is a trained interventionist and has helped countless families find help for a loved one suffering with self-destructive behaviors. He is located in Baton Rouge LA. and can be contacted at email.