The Intervention Process

Or How Do You Do an Intervention?

Dr. Ellis describes a typical story of an intervention from the first call through treatment. An intervention is a spiritual negotiation where we confront the palpable presence of addiction with the incredible power of love and reason. In the room of an intervention you can feel a dark presence, but you can also feel the presence of God.

Alcohol and drug abuse intervention is a special process. It’s very much a spiritual negotiation. The addiction always fights for its life, and that means ultimately taking the life of the addict. When you sit down to intervene on an addict you may actually feel the presence of evil and darkness. A prepared intervention team, and that includes spiritual preparation, brings goodness and light. Do not underestimate the true nature of this endeavor.

An intervention is a very unusual event, unlike anything most people have experienced. For that reason alone, using a professional interventionist ensures the best opportunity for success. Intervention is more than an event. It’s a process that includes all or many of the following steps:

  • First call: This is the initial contact with me. I listen, ask questions and begin collecting information about the addict (Person of Concern or PoC).
  • Forming the intervention team: This may be composed of family members, friends, employers, and anyone who loves the PoC and is willing to participate. I will help determine is a person is appropriate for the team.
  • Treatment Center selection: I will make recommendations on the best placement for the PoC. I receive no compensation from any treatment center for a referral. My recommendations are based solely on clinical indictors and the resources a family has for treatment. Many factors direct this decision: age, gender, length of addiction, number of relapses, type of drug, co-occurring disorders, medical conditions, geography, etc. It’s very important for you to understand that no ethical interventionist accepts money from a treatment facility for referrals. In many states this is against the law.
  • Insurance and out-of-pocket costs. I will connect family members with admissions staff of the recommended treatment center(s). These staff members will contact insurance companies to check on coverage and provide a total out-of-pocket cost for treatment.
  • Place of intervention and transport details. We will identify the best place for the intervention to occur and determine how to ensure meeting with the PoC. Some of these details may be finalized during the training meeting.
  • Intervention team preparation. Each intervention team member will receive guidelines about their responsibilities. This includes information about writing letters, anticipating objections, and setting personal boundaries.
  • Training meeting. This 2-3 hour meeting usually takes place the night before the intervention. We will review and even rehearse every detail of the intervention including seating arrangements, order of letter reading, packing, etc
  • The intervention. After everyone is seated, I explain what will take place and ask the PoC simply to listen. Every team member reads their letter. I then present the plan of recovery. We deal with objections, and, if necessary, read boundary letters that detail the ways family members will no longer support the addiction. The moment the PoC agrees to enter treatment, the intervention is over.
  • Transport. Family members nearly always request that I transport their loved one to the treatment facility.