“Interventionists provide knowledge where there is confusion, clarity
where there is fog, solution where there is dismay and hope where there
The news often carries headlines about interventions. Almost always these news stories are about a successful intervention that has taken place with a celebrity, sometimes the article is about an unsuccessful intervention. The truth is not all interventions are successful, regardless if the addicted person is famous or not.
The disease of addiction does not discriminate
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that nearly 17.6 million adults in the United States are alcoholics or have alcohol problems. Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that each year drug abuse results in around 40 million serious illnesses or
injuries among people in the United States. Those affected are regular people in your everyday life: your spouse, your child, your sibling, your parent, your co-worker, your neighbor…and yes, yourself.
For the most part we are not fearful of seeking counseling for our problems. For example, if we have a young child who is having trouble adjusting to a pre-school environment, we talk to the teachers; if our high school aged child is not doing well in school, we talk to the guidance counselors; if our marriage seems to be failing, we seek out the services of a marriage counselor; if our money management seems out of control, we might seek the services of a financial counselor or debt counselor; however, when it comes to the disease of addiction we often feel isolated and afraid to admit that our lives are negatively impacted and we don’t know what the first step should be and ultimately we delay taking that first step.
Learning about intervention
It might surprise you to know that the concept of an intervention as a way to deal with addiction is not really new. As long ago as 1960, more than half a century, intervention was introduced by Dr. Vernon Johnson. Dr. Vernon Johnson was a recovering alcoholic, who according to Wikipedia:
Johnson’s main achievements lie in the field of treatment of chemical dependency, especially alcoholism. Johnson did not believe that an alcoholic needed to “hit rock bottom” before recovery. He introduced the concept of intervention by family, friends, and employers. He supported “early intervention”, because it interrupted the progression of the disease of alcoholism before the disease completely destroyed the alcoholic’s life.
As a Minnesota Episcopal
priest, Johnson encouraged the incorporation of faith into the
treatment and he convinced many churches to provide space for recovering
alcoholics’ support group meetings.
Interventions and television
It is probably fair to say that most Americans began to become familiar with the efficacy of interventions in 2005 when the Arts and Entertainment channel first aired the reality show Intervention™. Many people tuned in. We watched and continue to watch Intervention, because it portrays real people facing real life problems of living their lives through the foggy lens of addiction. Since 2005 other shows have debuted dealing with addiction and intervention, these include such shows as Addicted and Celebrity Rehab. But we can’t and don’t live our lives through a television show, we need to take a real first step.
Looking forward to an Intervention
The Christian Science Monitor recently asked John Sharp, MD, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School to comment on Interventions:
“Done properly, with preparation and follow-through, interventions can have an extraordinarily high rate of success, says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Sharp. Dr. Sharp says the key is tapping the professionals with the skills to handle the scenarios that might emerge in an intervention.
The Hollywood gossip machine doesn’t help. Often, he says, ‘what we think of as a celebrity intervention is a whole lot of noise that turns into a fiasco without much hope of someone actually getting the help they need.’ But Sharp says professional interventionists – who are often recovered addicts – are able to step back from the process and help those who are unwilling to help themselves move past the excuses and resistance.”
If you have tried to help a loved one to stop using and abusing alcohol
and/or drugs, or for that matter to deal with some other aspect of
addiction, including an eating disorder or gambling, then you know how
difficult this can be for you and your family. Chances are your loved
one has also tried to stop on his or her own without success. This could be the time to consider doing an intervention. Always remember, there is hope.