What is Intervention for Addiction or Mental Illness?


Adapted from A Vision for Change: How to Help Someone with Addiction or Mental Illness

Intervention is the process of bringing in a professional to push healing forward. Families hire interventionists when they are desperate for healing, and have exhausted their capacity to influence change with a sick loved one. Intervention is a well-established practice in addiction. Because addictions can powerfully take hold of people who suffer from them, families bring in interventionists to loosen the grip of the disease enough to urge their loved one into treatment, often in a rehabilitation center.

A similar type of intervention process can be used for people with untreated mental health conditions and a lack of insight. An experienced specialist can be brought in to consult, and to work with the family and the person suffering in order to urge the start of needed treatment.

Families hire interventionists when they are out of ideas to encourage change. They want the assistance of an experienced expert who can help facilitate turning a crisis around. Interventionists work until they achieve success. They want families to rest assured that things will turn out positively. My colleague Rich Whitman is an interventionist, He likes to say that intervention is a process, not an event. The interventionist begins by assessing the treatment needs of the individual and the family, and he continues until the needed treatments are in place and running smoothly. Intervention is not a single conversation; it is very often a long and involved series of steps, where concerned family members benefit from the experience and expertise of the interventionist to find the right programs, get the sick person to go get help, and follow along to ensure that the plan is a working success before signing off.

An intervention can help when you know you can’t wait any longer to get help for your loved one—when the sickness has reached a tipping point, and something simply has to change. Intervention is designed to help when someone needs help but doesn’t want the help—or doesn’t believe they need it.

Don’t wait for your loved one to finally lose everything: job, family, friends, etc. You’ll have more success with intervention if you still have a bit of leverage to work with. With leverage, you can “pull” your loved one to get the treatment they need.



Posted on June 24, 2019 .