Intervention FAQs

Intervention FAQ #1 : Isn’t it true that you
can’t help someone until they want help?addiction - intervention faq

This is not true. Alcoholics and addicts don’t spontaneously decide to get help for their addiction. Something happens in their life that causes them to want help.

Ask yourself this question: “If an alcoholic won’t get help until she wants help, what will get her to want help?” It can be years of personal tragedy or the loving intervention of family and friends.

Intervention FAQ #2 : Don’t addicts have to “hit bottom” before they can recover?

An addict’s bottom can be divorce, arrest, health problems, financial ruin, child neglect, loss of friends, domestic abuse, jail, insanity, death. Typically, an addict can suffer several or all of these consequences. When the addict hits bottom, the family does too.

What many people don’t realize is that we can “raise the bottom.” Families do not have to endure years or decades of personal heartbreak and suffering over a loved one’s addiction. Family intervention is a loving and honest way to raise the bottom.

Intervention FAQ #3 : How many people do I need to do an intervention?

We suggest three to eight people. These are people the alcoholic or addict loves and respects. They may be family members, friends, co-workers, employers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, clergy. People who are significant in the addict’s life.

Intervention FAQ #4 : What if other family members are opposed to doing an intervention?

When people are opposed to intervention, it often means they need more information. Rather than asking people to commit to doing an intervention, ask if they’d be willing to learn about intervention. Suggest they start with this website. Most people are willing take this first, small step. Next, they can read Heart to Heart by Ed Storti. After everyone is educated, the family is ready to make a well-informed decision about intervention.

Intervention FAQ #5 : I know the alcoholic in my family will walk out of the intervention. What do we do then?

This is one of the most common fears of families planning interventions. In reality, it rarely happens, but we prepare for it anyway. We always select one or two people from your intervention team who are highly respected by the alcoholic to follow him outside if he leaves. They can gently and lovingly assure him everything is all right, and ask him to come back in. A professional interventionist can do this, too.

Intervention FAQ #6 : Won’t the addict get angry during the intervention and begin an argument?

It is more likely that the alcoholic will become tearful. While families often believe the alcoholic will react with anger, this also rarely happens.

If the alcoholic for whom you want to intervene has a history of violence, letting us know in advance will allow us to prepare for such reactions and refocus on solutions.

Intervention FAQ #7 : What do we tell our children when Mom or Dad is in treatment?

Be honest with your children. Tell them that mom has a disease and she is working to get better. Ask the treatment center if they have an education and support program for children. Buy books written for children of alcoholics. Go to National Association for Children of Alchololics for resources.

Intervention FAQ #8 : Can children participate in an intervention?

Yes, but each child should be evaluated individually. We prefer not to involve children under the age of 12 in an intervention, except in special circumstances. It should always be the child’s choice; never something imposed upon him or her. Rather than directly participating, some children choose to write a letter an adult reads for them during the intervention.

If a child does participate in an intervention, provide good support for the child before, during, and after the intervention. Allow the child to talk about his or her feelings. If the alcoholic declines treatment after the intervention, explain to the child that it is not because the alcoholic does not love him or her. It is because the addiction blocks the sick person’s ability to make healthy decisions. Assure the child that he or she did a good job during the intervention.

Intervention FAQ #9 : Our family members are scattered across the country. How do we do an intervention when we live so far apart?

Most people are able to arrange their schedules and make travel plans for something this important. People who are unable to attend can participate from home, and write a letter for someone on the intervention team to read for them during the intervention.

Intervention FAQ #10 : What if our addicted loved one relapses after treatment?

If this happens, a family who has done an intervention is better prepared to handle the crisis than most families. You can do another intervention to address the relapse. This often doesn’t require all family members to attend if some people live a distance away. Consult with the counselor from the treatment center, and the professional interventionist, if you used one. They can help you decide what the alcoholic needs to do to get back on track.

Intervention FAQ #11 : What’s the difference between Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous?

Al-Anon is a 12-Step support group for the families and friends of alcoholics. Families Anonymous is a 12-Step group for families of people addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Families Anonymous is particularly helpful to parents of an addicted child of any age. Alateen is for the teenage children of alcoholics.

Alcoholics Anonymous is for alcoholics with a desire to get sober. Narcotics Anonymous serves the same purpose for people addicted to other drugs. Both are 12-Step support groups.

12-Step groups are non-religious, non-professional, and are not part of any government agency. There are no dues. They offer the best help for long term recovery in the family. Regular attendance is necessary to begin getting the full benefit from these programs. When the entire family participates in the recovery process, the addicted loved one has a greater chance of long-term success in recovery.