Someone you love is lost in addiction. You have tried everything. You have begged, pleaded, rescued and cried a river of tears. You are emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. The effects of addiction always go far beyond the addict – to family and friends, the church family, and the workplace. At this point, you may have lost all hope that your loved one will ever be set free from the bonds of addiction.
Since you’ve tried everything else, you may be looking at intervention as your last resort. Yet you have no idea what it is, its purpose, or if it’s right for your situation. Simply stated, an intervention is a process that provides and event that consists of family and friends who come together because someone they love is lost in addiction and out of control. The hope of intervention is to help the addict admit to the severity of the problem and surrender to the help that is being offered.
An intervention is a priceless gift of opportunity for change by stopping the destruction of addiction.
An intervention presents truth in such a concentrated way that most often the eyes of the addict open for a time, so that they can see the reality of addiction. Once the truth is acknowledged in its ugliness, they may be willing to accept the immediate help that is being offered.
Most often the “help” that family and friends have offered in the past has been the enabling kind. This only serves to prolong the insanity and may even contribute to the addict’s destruction. With an intervention you stop caring for the addict and begin to show how much you care about them. The driving force behind intervention is love and concern. Intervention isn’t about anger, resentment, or a desire to punish and hurt. Intervention provides motivation for change. It does this without intimidation, manipulation, or humiliation. Those tactics don’t work! With an intervention, the addict is forced to look at the ways his or her addictive behavior has hurt themselves and those who love them most. Pain and consequences are great motivators for change. Both are part of the power of intervention.
Addiction leaves loved ones feeling powerless in the midst of lies and manipulation. The intervention process brings all participants together - in unity and communication, there is power!
But everything changes after intervention… beginning with you!
It all begins with a power shift from the addict’s wants and demands… to what you desire. Intervention removes the perception of power from the addict. You get off the roller coaster of addiction by learning to set healthy, livable boundaries. You no longer enable the addict. Lines are drawn between what is acceptable behavior and what’s not.
The Goals of Intervention
There are two goals in intervention. The primary goal is to motivate the addict to seek help immediately by breaking down defenses so that reality can shine through long enough for the person to accept it. Prior arrangements are made so the addict can immediately enter a recovery facility at the conclusion of the intervention.
The secondary goal is set in place in the event the addict refuses to accept help. As a group, you desire to shatter the enabling system. This makes it very difficult for the addict to continue in addiction. Consequences are communicated and set in place. The lines of communication have been opened between all concerned parties. All lies have been exposed and you can speak openly and freely. No more secrets will be kept. Should your loves one return at a later date seeking help, you will have those resources at hand.
Biblical Foundation for Intervention: Love and Truth
It is important to remember that the underlying and overriding basis for intervention is love… unconditional love of the addict. Let’s face it, some people are hard to love, especially after the person has hurt, lied, and deceived you again and again. Yet love is not a choice. Jesus is our example and He loves the “unlovable.” The Bible calls us to love in the same way Jesus loves us – with an everlasting love. In John 13:34 Jesus says “love one another as I have loved you.”
God’s love for us is deeper than we could ever fathom – and in His love He disciplines and allows consequences of behavior to take place. Not because He is cruel, but because these are the very things that bring about change for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
Addiction is a breeding ground for the lies of Satan. John 8:44 says “when he [Satan] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of all lies.” Both you and the addict are easy prey. When you feel confused, desperate, and hopeless, it’s easy to believe Satan’s lies. Intervention exposes the lies and brings them out of the darkness and into the light.
Intervention provides a time for you and your loves ones to come together and in love to expose the lies you have been living under and do it bathed in love and truth.
It all begins with a phone call. All it takes is one phone call from a concerned loved one (friend or family) who has exhausted all other avenues of help. Yet that call is the hardest thing to do.
- Only 1 in 10 families who call for help actually follow through.
- After an intervention, 9 out of 10 addicts get treatment (65% go directly into treatment – 25% go into treatment in the weeks that follow.)
- It is 10 times harder to get a family to intervene than it is to get an addict to surrender.1
- Intervention has a high success rate of getting an addict into treatment. In this, there is great hope for a new life. The truth is, the addict doesn’t just need a changed life, but a new life. This is what Jesus wants to give. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old things have gone and the new has come.”
Who does the Intervention?
It’s important to remember that interventions should never be coordinated and presented without the presence of a neutral third party. This is necessary to maintain control and oversee the process. There are professional interventionists and those who do interventions as a means of ministry (such as professional interventionists, trained pastors, people in recovery, employers, teachers, and counselors).
The Intervention Process:
- Prayer. Before the call is made and throughout the process (1 Thess. 5:17 “pray continually).
- Calling an interventionist and following through.
- Gathering a group of concerned family and friends (as little as 2 – but a group of 6-12 is best). They must be committed to the process and the follow through of consequences.
- Considers all possible angles and outcomes.
- Sets a time and place for the intervention and gathers everyone together.
- Contacts a recovery facility able to accommodate immediate entry.
- Family and friends write a two part letter (the heart of the intervention) to be read at the intervention.
o Part 1: Includes personal feelings about the problem, facts (what you have witnessed) and what you have fely personally as a result of the addict’s behavior. The letter ends in confirming love.
Hope and help are offered. A rehab bed is offered (prompt engagements made). A decision must be made to either accept or reject the help being offered.
o Part 2: Read only in the event the addict refuses help. This outlines consequences. Also ending in confirming love. Consequences go into effect immediately.
Intervention is Never a Failure
Even if the addict decides again immediate help, the intervention isn’t a failure because everything changes after an intervention. A power shift takes place – from the addict’s hands and into yours. All tricks and manipulations are now exposed and you won’t fall for them again. Most importantly, you have given the addict hope, love, and established boundaries. The family and friends have committed to remain unified in purpose and this shuts down avenues of manipulation and enabling.
The intervention process is not for everyone; it is not easy or a quick fix. It isn’t a guarantee your loved one will be set free from addiction. Intervention is the hope of a life-changing encounter with God, so that not only will the addict be free from the bondage of addiction, but their life will be transformed, becoming a “new creation in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Remember, you can’t fix or save the addict… only God can. The good news is that God goes before you (Deut. 31:8). In God’s presence is comfort and healing, not only for the addict but for you too.
Remember, you are not powerless! There is something you can do… it starts with prayer and a phone call.
Footnotes: 1 It is not okay to be a Cannibal, pg. 24, by Andrew T. Wainwright & Robert Poznanovich, Hazelton, Center City, Minnesota, 2007. All scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted. Digging Deeper
For more help on this topic or for information on the multi-faceted ministry of America’s Keswick, call 800.453.7942