What is an Alcohol or Drug Intervention

An intervention usually takes place when it is believed the situation is so serious that there is nothing else that can be done. The process is usually instigated by family or friends of the person who has an alcohol or drug problem. The nature of an intervention can vary quite a lot, but there are normally some common elements.

People who perform interventions take great pains to stress they should not be confrontational. The intent is to show the person the extent to which that addiction or alcoholism is real. This is done through family and friends sharing, writing letters, showing photographs etc. The individual concerned then understands the nature of the problem, and is willing to seek help to get better.

This type of scenario sounds very plausible, but there are some problems with it.

Anyone who is an alcoholic will have a particular mindset about their drinking.One element will be a belief system that alcohol is the only thing that is holding them together. It is likely this belief system will get deeper the worse things get, both internally and externally.

This is something that is very difficult for someone who is not an alcoholic to understand.

The complexity of active alcoholism and drug addiction means that trying to help someone can be quite difficult. It is a bit of a cliche, but still true, to say that the person needs to accept that they have a problem and that they need help. What is even more true is that that acknowledgement has to come from within them.

An alcoholic or drug addict will have a completely different view of how they need to use alcohol or drugs than someone who is not an alcoholic or an addict.

The dangers of an intervention

Whilst that are some scenarios where an intervention possibly could be justified, on the whole the process is fraught with danger. The person that the intervention is focused on is likely to feel cornered, possibly trapped and certainly under a great deal of pressure. They may give in to this pressure and agree they need help. They may go into rehab, and they may get sober.

There is an underlying issue that will be hugely important,  but will possibly go unnoticed for a long period of time. That is that they did not make the decision for themselves that they had a problem and needed help. The decision was effectively made for them by other people, and they essentially went along with it.

The significance of this cannot be overstated. Any long-term recovery has to be rooted in a gut level feeling that they cannot do it any more. It is an internal dynamic that has to be genuine and authentic. Whatever horrors may be presented to them by way of evidence from family and friends, this evidence it only likely to make them feel worse.

An intervention is not a reality check. It is a process advocated by people who feel there is nothing more they can do, and something has to be done to force a situation to change. The real danger is that this presented as an opportunity for an alcoholic to get better. What it does in reality is tear down a mask that someone has put up to keep themselves safe.

It is a cardinal rule of all types of psychology, that people who use masks to defend themselves have to be able to take them down from within. Tearing them down from the outside can be cruel and callous. For an alcoholic or drug addict, it seems more complex because the mask itself is so destructive. The reality is the same however.

However tempting an intervention may seem, the solution that offers is normally an illusion.  The desire for recovery has to come from within, not be forced on someone by outside pressure.

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