Understanding A Family Intervention

Addiction Is A Terminal Disease

If you take a few minutes and Google the phrase “addiction terminal disease,” then you will find almost 200,000 search engine results each dealing with the medical facts of addiction. Many people do not understand that addiction, if there is no intervention, can and often does lead to death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA):

“About 570,000 people die annually due to drug use. That breaks down to about 440,000 from disease related to tobacco, 85,000 due to alcohol, 20,000 due to illicit (illegal) drugs, and 20,000 due to prescription drug abuse.”


The word Intervention is certainly not new. It has been used since around 1375 with a simple meaning of “coming between.” It is often used in military, commerce and/or economic transactions. Additionally, the science of medicine is by nature an interventional science.

It was in the 1960’s that Dr. Vernon Johnson developed a model of intervention to be used with alcoholics; his Johnson Model offered the view that alcoholics should not need to hit “rock bottom” before seeking treatment. He developed the idea that bringing together the alcoholic’s family, friends, and sometimes even employers to meet with the alcoholic / addict could initiate a new beginning and interrupt the cycle of the disease.

In addition to the Johnson Model there are also the Systemic Family Model and the ARISE model of intervention, each employing an invitational approach complemented with a direct approach if needed. Here at Family Recovery Specialists our addiction interventionists have been trained in many different approaches to intervention including Johnson, Family Systemic and ARISE models of intervention. Our non-confrontational, invitational approach to intervention is proven effective and allows for a family to lovingly and compassionately encourage a loved one to seek help for a substance addiction, mental health disorder or process addiction.

Planning A Family Intervention

Many families in the United States have become aware of interventions, most particularly from exposure to the A & E Television series INTERVENTION. This series has aired almost continuously since 2005. Many viewers were initially shocked to watch the process, some felt as if they were eavesdropping; however, many viewers came to learn more about the disease of addiction and understood how a Family Intervention is planned and executed for the health of all concerned.

But families in the grip of the disease of addiction realize that their life is not a television series, albeit their actions or lack thereof can contribute to a life or death situation. Family members should learn as much as they can about the disease, they should examine their own behaviors and determine if and how they are enabling the addict. Moving forward the family members should plan an Intervention. The plan should be orchestrated with an addiction interventionist.

Avoiding Rock Bottom

The beginning of the recovery journey need not be “rock bottom.” It is important to remember this. Often family members want to wait until all else has failed. When you first become aware there is an addiction problem, reach out for assistance. Talk to other family members, consult with your family physician, utilize your Employee Assistance Program, or call a local therapist. Being proactive will provide a first step for your loved one.

Waiting for “rock bottom” can and often does include traffic accidents, permanent physical and mental disabilities, a legal intervention with the court system, loss of careers, school expulsion, and sadly death. Planning a family intervention, while often difficult, is a very positive experience.

Take the first step today.

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