An Intervention May Be The First Step In The “Improbable” Journey Of Recovery

Finding “tools” to understand Interventions

We launched our blog on October 18, 2012, and at that time we promised to share news about addiction, mental health, family issues and the efficacy of interventions. Since that time our posts have dealt with tools of recovery, particularly the power of interventions and the varied ways that people can learn about and experience interventions.

If you are a regular reader, then you know that we once discussed how the A & E series INTERVENTION became a teaching “tool” for not only those suffering from the disease of addiction, but also the addict’s family members and friends.

Last month we turned our lens on the powerful AMC television series Mad Men. Specifically, we discussed how Don Draper faced a workplace intervention and the sometimes futile steps Draper has taken to getting sober and dealing with his chronicled mental health issues.

Again, sometimes we learn by reading a news story or a novel, or watching a movie or even other television series like HOUSE or NURSE JACKIE. But, there are other inspired tools that can urge one toward an intervention.

The Improbable Players offer live theater to audiences of middle and high school students

Now in its 30th year, the non-profit Boston based  Improbable Players bills itself as “educational theater for substance abuse prevention.” This theater troupe was founded by Lynn Bratley, M.Ed., and she continues to serve as the Artistic Director. The players have a clearly defined mission:

“to set the stage for prevention by educating the public about addiction and recovery through dramatic performances and theater workshops -presented by actors who are in long-term recovery from addictions – that help people recognize situations in their own lives and seek the help they need.”

In November 2012, William L. White had the opportunity to interview Lynn Bratley where they discuss her vision and evolution of the Improbable Players. Take a few minutes to read this interview.

Improbable Players at Medford High School 2009

Here is a four minute clip from the stage play presented to Medford High School.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Currently the Improbable Players offer five different plays and you can find out about booking them for your school here and see their current calendar here. They are working on a new play The Rope Tightens Around P.B. which will be ready for touring in September 2014.  It deals with opioid drugs:

“…It’s the 38 a day who die from prescription drug overdoses. That’s 2 classrooms disappeared /That’s 38 absent friends/That’s 76 weeping parents/Every. Single. Day.”


How the Improbable Players impact students…

This week published an article about the Improbable Players production at the Woodland Park Middle School.  The entire student body was invited and afterwards they were requested to complete evaluation forms.

Students who attend these productions usually find that they feel safe sitting with their classmates. Like any live theater production the audience is the fourth wall and with realistic theater the actors will often break that boundary and interact with the audience. While audience participation is not always verbal, one gets a sense that they are with others who understand what their life is about.  Here is one counselor’s impact statement from 2011.

“Less than a week after the program, we had the freshman and sophomores meet in groups of 12 students and an adult to reinforce the messages from the presentation, answer questions, and get feedback from the students on their own personal experiences. Many were talking about how the Players’ presentation was something that they can personally relate to, and in addition there were able to point out how their families were like or not alike a specific actor/actress. They were able to discuss experiences of their own in a safe place.”


Some closing thoughts…

Many families have one or more members who are suffering from addiction. Millions of children under the age of 18 live with a parent who is an alcoholic. This problem is not new. It is not even new for playwrights to journal the experience of families dealing with alcoholism and addiction. Consider Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Written in 1942, but first published in 1956, it won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Four characters – mother, father and two adult sons. The mother is addicted to morphine and the three men are alcoholics. The entire play takes place in one day.  And then there is Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955. This play, too, deals with family relationships and alcoholism.

Novels, plays, movies, and televisions series can serve as conversation starters. And the intervention process starts with a conversation with the interventionist about the loved one you would like to help. Because of professional experience in the field of addiction and recovery, the interventionist has heard it all – there are no stories or situations that haven’t already been heard and no story or situation will be judged, it will all be kept with the utmost level of confidentiality. Although it seems trifling to tell personal details to someone you don’t know, upon sharing your situation your reservation will be met with warmth and understanding and the weight you feel will begin to lift as solutions are proposed.

It may be an intervention will be the first step in your loved one’s recovery journey!



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