How We Approach Family Interventions

What is an Intervention?

According to Al Anon, an intervention is a deliberate process designed to help another person – a family member, loved one, friend or colleague – recognize and change self-destructive thoughts, feelings or behaviors. The intent is to confront the person in a non-threatening way. It’s an approach that focuses on helping the individual see the personal impact of their alcohol or other drug use as well as the impact on others.

The Moment of Truth

Similarly, an intervention, according to best-selling author and interventions expert, Vernon E. Johnson, is an act of empathy rather than sympathy. You agree to take part in it out of the deep concern you feel for the chemically dependent person. You stop caring for the alcoholic or drug addict — and start proving how very much you care about him or her. For the chemically dependent person, the intervention is the “moment of truth.” He or she experiences it as a crisis, a discrete event. In fact, it takes days, even weeks, of advance preparation. The better prepared you are, the more smoothly the intervention will go. The only “surprises” during the process should be those the victim experiences when finally met head-on with the realities of his or her disease.

Having a Family Meeting

At the New York Center for Living, we facilitate interventions in a way that feel like “family meetings”. We the person dealing with substance abuse issues to the family meeting in a way that there are no surprises. The approach is much like this, “hey look, Johnny, your friends and family love you and they have some concerns. We feel like mom and dad need some help and they think you can use some help and would benefit from speaking to a counselor.” Then, all of us sit down and talk about how to best help each other.

Learning a New Language

The intervention itself is the easy part of the recovery process. It’s often the first step, but it really is the easiest. The hard part is down the road because it really isn’t just about a 30-day program where someone goes away for an inpatient stay and get fixed and then come back. It’s about behaviors. It’s about communicating.

If we can move the family into the healing process and give them a language of recovery, everyone will speak that language. That’s what we do here at the Center.

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