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Do Interventions Really Work?

Shy women standing in front of group

As a highly trained and experienced professional interventionist, my job is to work closely with families to get loved ones suffering from addiction into the appropriate treatment program. Providing expert guidance in a non-judgmental and compassionate way most often results in alcoholics and/or substance abusers choosing to get help for themselves. When an addicted family member chooses treatment for themselves, their chance of success is greatly increased.

Identifying and facilitating a family’s natural power to heal is really the foundation of any good intervention. What follows are the key components of family involvement invitational interventionists use to end addiction’s hold and reunite your family. For more information on Interventions, please see my previous blog “Interventions: What Every Family Should Know.”


One major component of interventions that work is being able to express love for the addict both individually and as a family unit. The disease of addiction makes the affected person believe that they are unlovable and alone. The behavior of the addicted person often makes us resentful and even disgusted not only with the person’s actions, but with the loved one themselves. As a third party who is not emotionally invested, the interventionist is able to help the family reconnect with the genuine love they have for each other, despite the problems that have arisen from the addiction. This love is paramount to success.

A Unified Commitment

Over the years I have watched many families succeed simply by standing firm on the commitment to do whatever it takes to help the person become clean, sober and functional. The family’s unwavering commitment to the intervention is key to an addiction free and united family. Always remember, the enemy is not the person but the addiction itself.

Honesty and Confrontation with Respect

For years, the disease of addiction kept me in denial and unable to see the truth of my addiction. I was completely unaware of the harm that I was doing to others and myself. As addicts, we naturally refuse to see that we have a problem. In some cases, people may even already know they have a problem, but mistakenly think they can somehow handle the problem on their own. By respectfully and assertively speaking to very specific behaviors on very specific days that negatively impacted the family, it opens a door for the addicted family member to see the truth. We must be able to see the problem before we become willing to seek help. When done with compassion, complete honesty during the intervention most often results in the loved one getting the help they so desperately need.

Persisting in the Goal No Matter What

Most families arrive at the point of seeking an intervention after having tried many things to motivate their family member to seek treatment. In many cases they are unaware that their own behavior has been reinforcing the addiction. A skilled interventionist will help the family develop strategies to counter their own enabling and stand firm time and time again in their commitment. This is one of the major pillars of a successful intervention.

Clear Boundaries and Firm Consequences

Having established a loving and honest environment for the intervention, the family must then request the addicted person seek treatment or experience certain boundaries and consequences. There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous that “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” The family must change their behaviors and attitudes first to motivate the addicted individual to change as well. Guiding family members to come up with their own individual and collective family consequences if the person does not accept treatment is another extremely important component to success.

Request Treatment

After all the other components of an intervention have occurred, the family one by one as a unit must request the person go to treatment right away. The type of treatment that the group has agreed on is outlined for the loved one. They are asked to leave immediately to go into the chosen program. This allows the addicted member the opportunity to finally admit that they have a real problem, and the family members to show they are willing and committed to help their loved one recover and put their lives back together.

In It for the Long Term

Even when a person agrees to go to treatment, there’s often some backpedaling for the initial period of time they are there. Many substance abusers want to quit treatment early and come home. This is when the family must stay strong and be assertive about the person completing both treatment and the recommended after care program. Much like a petulant child, the addicted family member will often test the boundaries.


Interventions that are successful in getting people to reach long-term recovery are born out of love, respect and a desire to end the addiction for the loved one and the family. Quite simply, showing love and support while discussing the truth about the person’s addiction and its effect on the family is the foundation.

It is impossible to overstate the fact that a family unit already possesses the natural resilience that is required to motivate their loved one into treatment. Statistical research shows that 80+ percent of the people who experience invitational interventions go into treatment within the first few weeks. Magic really happens when the professional joins with a family’s natural instincts and strength to motivate their loved one to get the help they need!

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If you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, it is very important for you to seek out professional help as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I may be of assistance to you or your loved ones. My website provides more information on my practice and how to contact me with questions or take advantage of a free 20-minute phone appointment.

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