Interventions and Substance Addiction

When alcoholics or addicts are caught in the throes of their addiction, some don’t have the capacity to comprehend how bad their situation really is, and often they blame others or circumstances for their problems, instead of realizing that the problems stem from their substance abuse. To make things even worse, some addicts and/or alcoholics drink and/or use more because substance addiction is progressive. Often substance abuse disorder takes control of addicts, and leads them to further destruction. This happens because their bodies have developed a tolerance to drugs and/or alcohol. When they continue to drink and/or use beyond the capacity that their bodies can endure, the result can end in tragedy.

An intervention can save their lives, because addicts often lack the objectivity to see the gravity of their chemical addiction. Additionally, chemical substances can cause cognitive distortion. Logic and rational thinking go out the window. An intervention becomes necessary when addicts are unaware that they are in crisis, and when they don’t understand the damaging effects that the addiction has on themselves or on their families.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an intervention is a staged endeavor by one or more individuals (usually family members and/or close friends) in conjunction with the assistance of a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, doctor, and/or professional interventionist. This undertaking is designed to get a loved one who is suffering from an addiction into the appropriate treatment. Often for alcoholics and addicts, the treatment might start with detox, prior to inpatient care, which usually lasts between 30 and 90 days.

There is a myth that says that addicts should hit rock bottom before they can admit that they need help. Tragically, for some addicts, that rock bottom parallels being six feet under.

Some of us have seen the gritty A&E Show Intervention, which features addicts, along with their families going through an intervention, in the presence of a professional interventionist. The filmed interventions remind me of a Greek tragedy, with the protagonist being the addict, and the families as the chorus. Like the TV show, a professional interventionist facilitates the process. When the addict meets with loved ones, they read letters out loud, describing how the addict’s substance abuse disorder has affected their lives. The letters express love and concern for the addict, as well as set firm boundaries of action that the family will take, should the addicts choose against substance abuse and addiction treatment.

The often-dramatic show presents interventions as a direct, confrontational experience. The show spends a lot of time depicting addicts caught in their addiction, with only glimpses of the aftermath, and doesn’t really focus on the recovery process. Some addicts feel humiliated by being on the show, and those feelings can be counterproductive to their desire to get treatment. And TV crew, harsh lights and cameras surround the subject.

YouTube features video excerpts from Intervention. There are even videos that show addicts who have died as a result of relapse or other factors. While many comments are empathetic, some comments are downright atrocious.  Not only are those remarks hurtful to the addict’s family but also their ignorance contributes to the stigma surrounding substance abuse.

But leaving the show aside, lets talk about real life interventions. How do those work?

According to, there are two types of interventions. There is the ARISE model, where the addict is invited to the intervention. During this type of intervention, the addict is involved in the entire process, from beginning to end.

The Johnson Model, which boasts a 90% success rate, is a surprise event, and focuses on both the addict’s positive personality traits, as well as his or her negative traits, that stem from the substance addiction. With the help of an interventionist, family learns how to express their concerns in a positive manner, as opposed to projecting guilt or shame.

An intervention must be conducted with the help of an interventionist. Unmonitored interventions can be dangerous, because emotions that are not in check can lead an addict to choose a dangerous road.  Would you get a root canal without a dentist?

At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, the addict is typically not part of the intervention planning. Usually family, friends, a clergy member or a therapist will make the initial request. Our intervention specialists facilitate the planning, as well as describe the process, step by step, to the participants. Loved ones will be preregistered in one of our beautiful gender-specific residential treatment facilities, where they will be met with our professional, compassionate staff.

Should your loved one require an intervention, or should you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to helping you.


Mayo Clinic Staff. “Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome

Addiction.” Mayo Clinic.  Web. 13 April 2017.

Patterson, Eric. “Library: Drug Intervention Programs.”  Web. 13 April 2017.

Cycles of Change Recovery Services Las Vegas Office