Love Helps


What do you think of when you hear the word “intervention”?

The word intervene simply means to interrupt or interfere.

For most people who are familiar with the phenomenon of intervention, the word conjures a scene of a room, usually an office, a group of people sitting nervously and secretly waiting for the arrival  ” who is being led to them under the illusion of going there for some other purpose. The counsellor/interventionist then guides the group through confrontation after confrontation about the addict unhealthy lifestyle and the harmful effects it is having on that person’s health, job performance, and coworkers, and on the psychological and emotional well-being of family members, probably including generations of family members. Finally, the addicted person breaks down, says, “Yes, I will get help,” and is then smothered by tearful, grateful hugs. Or the addict jumps up and storms out the door as those who have gathered there sit in shock, some of them wondering if they ever should have gone through with the intervention in the first place.

The Drama

While it is true that either of those two scenarios might take place, providing intense drama for all those involved, typically there is more drama than what was described here. Much more. First of all, few interventions result in such “clean” results as simple capitulation or escape. Second, the intervention is usually preceded by a series of events leading up to a crisis that causes the addicted person family members and friends to realize the need for an intervention. And third, behind the scenes prior to the intervention are concerned people who are pleading with the addicted person to stop the destructive patterns, and who are begging friends, neighbors, clergy, counselors, family members or crisis hotline volunteers for suggestions about what to do. These concerned people sometimes are referred to professional interventionists.

The interventionist begins by working behind the scenes as well, orchestrating the time and place for a pre intervention education session and deciding who should be present at that session; determining which participants will be the most effective in the intervention, and weeding out those who are likely to sabotage it either while it is going on or beforehand by tipping off the addicted person; prearranging admission to appropriate recovery services by contacting doctors, lawyers, psychologists, inpatient and/or outpatient treatment centers, and other sources, should the addicted person become willing to admit the need for help and accept it; and anticipating the predictable reasons for refusing or delaying treatment—such as commitments to job, family, or the legal system—and making appropriate arrangements. Then there is the pre intervention training session itself. And finally, the intervention, which—far from the simplistic description given earlier—often becomes an undertaking of monumental proportions. After all that, a transporter or escort also may be needed, to ensure that they arrive at the appropriate facility.

Providing Help That Helps

When a person’s life is no longer under control, we call it a crisis. Until that time, the addicted person has been walking a stressful, dangerous, perhaps life-threatening tightrope. Friends and family have been the helpless and unwilling audience of this balancing act, sometimes feeling like they are on the tightrope as well. When the crisis occurs, it’s like the person has fallen off the tightrope. They has gotten fired, abused someone and gotten arrested, received a drunk-driving ticket, or any of a myriad of other experiences. The AP is now dangling by a fingernail. It is an emergency. Action is imperative. Time is of the essence.

Yet all too often, people who care reach toward the tightrope and prop the AP back up, or reach down and pull him or her back up onto the tightrope with them, to resume the act, while they wait anxiously for the next incident and hope that it never comes or at least that it won’t be too serious. They do this because they don’t know exactly how to give help that will really help. Or they may do it because they find meaning in their own lives by rescuing people who fall off tightropes. The reasons are varied and complex, but the problem is not that the person has fallen off the tightrope. The problem is that the person is living on it in the first place. Helping the person get back onto the tightrope is not helpful, because it is merely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic,” or providing a Band-Aid that covers over much deeper issues.

When it is impossible or improbable that the AP is going to climb down off the tightrope independent of others, it becomes the job of the interventionist to provide a loving, supportive environment in which people who care can “push” the PC off the rope, resist efforts to prop the AP back up, and offer a net of appropriate, qualified, expert help to catch the AP and help him or her resume life with both feet on the ground.

A person in need of an intervention is incapable of seeing the impact that his or her lifestyle is having on others. The person’s friends and family have begun to realize that their efforts to suggest, hint, lecture, or otherwise help have been ineffective. It’s like each person has a small piece of a puzzle, which by itself cannot express what the whole puzzle looks like. To put it another way, it’s as if many musicians are playing their parts of a concerto at random times and in random ways, with no conductor and an audience who doesn’t want to listen. The task of the interventionist is to help the concerned people put the puzzle together so that when it is presented to the PC it is a clear picture of the AP life and how that life is impacting others. An interventionist is a conductor, who trains the musicians to play in a coordinated way.

Getting Started in Recovery

Starting Recovery is a life long process and it starts with the possible affects of withdrawal then to the beginning stages of recovery learning. It doesn’t matter what you used or misused the solutions are always tailored to the clients needs. Recovery is such a broad term for getting better and learning how to stay better.

Psychology Today states” Many words in the health field have been tossed around for years without being clearly defined or even being meaningful. “Recovered,” “recovery” and “being in recovery” are examples. In most of life, “being in recovery” means a person is making progress even though s/he isn’t “cured.” Sometimes it is used as a synonym for “being in remission” — indicating relapse is a clear possibility (as with being “in recovery” from cancer), while other times it means “on the path to a definite cure” — as in being in recovery after surgery. Neither of these usages is problematic, so long as we all understand what is meant. But in the addiction field, the term has been used in a third way in 12-step programs. There, it is traditional for people to refer to themselves as “in recovery,” no matter how long they have been abstinent from their addictive behavior and no matter how well they are doing in life. Partly, this is the same as saying they are “in remission,” based on the idea they can always suffer a relapse. But too often, being “in recovery” has come to mean something different: that they are on what they declare is the right path. When used this way, folks are condemned as not “in recovery” if they drop out of 12-step programs or are thought to not be “working the program” adequately. When “recovery” is used this way, it is more a political statement than a factual or medical one.

People suffering with addictions should ignore the agendas of anyone attempting to define whether they are “recovering” or “recovered.” They would be better off thinking of their addiction as a repetitive behavior that arises with great force at key moments when they feel overwhelmingly helpless. These moments can be predicted and avoided once they know just what their emotional vulnerabilities are. However, there will always be some risk of becoming overwhelmed, and responding with the old behavior. To this extent, it is true that anyone with addictive behavior is never “cured.” But we are all at risk of repeating old behaviors (in my field it’s called “regressing”), whether these old behaviors are addictions or anything else that used to be part of our solution to life. That’s not a specific feature of addictions, it’s just the way humans are. It makes no more sense to label oneself as “recovering” forever from an addiction, than it does for a person who used to be depressed to forever be “recovering” from depression, or a person who has been cancer-free for 15 years to still define herself as a cancer patient. It certainly makes no sense to define “recovering” in terms of whether you are in one treatment approach or another. Addiction is a terrible symptom, but it is not who you are, and once you understand how it works emotionally in you so it doesn’t sneak up on you, there is no reason to dwell on what words you use.”

Recovery is amazing for most once you experience joy and better outcomes in your life.

Hope this helps