What You Need To Know When The Only Way To Save A Life Is Through Intervention

You’ve tried to talk to your spouse, parent, child, or friend about their addiction, but they won’t listen. Strengthen your voice and your impact by collaborating with a trained and certified interventionist.

What is an intervention?

Addiction is self-destructive behavior, but it also destroys relationships. An intervention is a gathering of family, friends, and colleagues who are aware of the addiction, have been impacted by the addict’s behavior, and want to take positive action.

The intervention itself is simply a family meeting that is focused on achieving one primary goal: the addicted individual accepting the help that is being offered, entering treatment for addiction or alcoholism, and successfully completing that treatment.

A family can hold their own intervention, but this emotionally-charged situation will often spiral out of control without professional guidance. A professional intervention allows the family members and friends to share their stories experiences in the most powerful way possible.

But it’s important to keep in mind that while the intervention itself can be a remarkably healing process, an intervention is not treatment. The intervention is not the time to work on longstanding issues, redress hurt feelings, or blame anyone for anything; the intervention is a well-orchestrated yet authentic conversation that is defined by one goal: The addicted person getting help for their addiction, right now, today.

Who are Interventionists and what do they do?

An interventionist should be a certified professional. To become a member of The Association of Intervention Specialists, you must be certified through the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB). Darren Kavinoky is a member of this professional group, as well as the Network of Independent Interventionists. The interventionist acts as a moderator and guide to addicts and families, offering support, education, and resources such as treatment plans and access to rehabilitation facilities. He or she provides assistance before, during, and after the intervention.

Determining an appropriate intervention model (surprise vs. invitational)

When someone is in complete denial that they have a problem, they are resistant to the idea of sitting down with family or friends to talk about their addiction. They may think that they don’t have a problem, or claim it is the people or outside factors in their life who are “causing me to drink”. The surprise intervention can be unsettling, but it is often the only way to get this person in a room and allow the healing to begin.

The invitational approach may be appropriate for someone who will be responsive to a transparent opportunity to participate in a family meeting where they will be the topic of discussion. The invitational intervention model does allow for escalation over time. It may be especially appropriate where the intervention subject has talked to others about their addiction and has indicated some desire to seek treatment. Perhaps they don’t know how to go about it, or they are afraid to take that first step.

One of the benefits of working with a Certified Intervention Professional is that you will have an experienced interventionist help you determine which approach will be the most beneficial, and has the greatest likelihood of success.

Who participates in an intervention?

The interventionist works with any interested family, friends, co-workers, or anyone else to identify the people most affected by the actions of the addict and those who will be most likely to support the person during their recovery. Family members, friends and colleagues who are aware of the addiction will usually want to participate, although it is always their choice.

One of the important reasons to work with a trained and qualified interventionist is the experience that they have in discerning whose presence is helpful to the desired intervention outcome, and whose presence would detract from it. Remember, the intervention is a family meeting with a unique, well-defined goal: the addicted person getting to treatment, and being set up to complete treatment powerfully.

An intervention timeline:


Once the interventionist is selected, they will guide the family through the preparation process. It’s important to note that all conversations are confidential, and afforded the highest level of care. The interventionist will ask for historical information around the addict’s behavior and drinking or using patterns. It is frequently helpful to construct a detailed family tree, and map out the relationship dynamics with all concerned. Most importantly, during the preparation phase, the interventionist should set your mind at ease concerning all aspects of the intervention and related logistical concerns. They will discuss the various intervention models and work with you to determine the best method. An interventionist will explain what can happen during an intervention, how you should go forward if the person accepts help or refuses it, and go over treatment options. A good interventionist wants to know you as well as the addict because success depends on collaboration.

Pre-Intervention (Preparation of Intervention Letters).

The Interventionist will make sure all the participants are in agreement on their roles, and help them to determine the part they will play in the process. Usually, the interventionist will ask the participants to write a letter to the addict. If you can’t put your feelings into words, they will help you, but it is your experience that is the focus: What does the person mean to you? What have your experiences been with this individual? How has their addiction impacted your life? What is your bottom line if the person doesn’t accept treatment? It can be very emotional to write and read these letters, but the interventionist is there to support everyone in this time of transformation.

One of the bold promises that Intervention Partners always makes, and always fulfills on, is that because of the intervention, life for the affected individual, as well as the entire family, will never be the same again. The cloak of denial will be lifted. The secrecy will be forever gone. Families will heal, and integrity will be restored. During this pre-intervention process, the interventionist will work with the family to create a clear plan around what normal, healthy behavior patterns will be, and a path to achieve them.


Once an intervention model is chosen and the intervention letters are prepared, a time and place is scheduled for the meeting. Depending on the situation, the location may be a friend or relative’s house (not the addict’s personal space), a hotel room, or somewhere that you can have privacy and some comfort. All of the participants arrive at the chosen location. Depending on your family and your beliefs, you may want pray, share your feelings with each other or just hold hands and give comfort. You must be mentally and emotionally prepared for this life-changing event.

The interventionist will be there to guide and support you. If the intervention is invitational, the person will arrive and the intervention will begin. It is a structured meeting and the interventionist will mediate the proceedings. In a surprise intervention, a family member or friend will bring the addict or a pretext will be used to get them to arrive at the location. Family and friends are often concerned that there will be resistance. In our experience, there is a wide range of possible emotions and responses from the addicted person, from surprise to resistance to relief. The person may walk out, become angry or even violent, or blame the people in the room. Skilled interventionists know how to manage all of these situations. Once the person is sitting among you, the interventionist will lead the family meeting, and call on people to read their letters in an order designed to create the most impact on the addict.

After the reading of the intervention letters, the addicted person will be offered the opportunity to participate in their own rescue by accepting the offer of treatment. If the answer is “yes” then the intervention is over, and the goal is then to transport the addicted person to treatment as swiftly as possible. (Remember, since an intervention is not treatment, and since windows of opportunity frequently remain open only for brief periods of time, interventionists know to take “yes” for an answer and conclude the intervention promptly if the addicted person is willing to go.)

If, on the other hand, the addicted person responds to the offer for treatment with a “no, thank you” then the interventionist will engage in discussion for as long as necessary to help pierce through the layers of denial, so that a “yes” to treatment, to health, and a new life can be achieved.


If the addict accepts the treatment option, the interventionist will go forward with pre-arranged plans to transport them safely to a treatment center. Depending on their needs, this may also require a nurse or other medical professional to travel too. Staff at the center will be prepared and ready to accept the person into their program. We know that when windows of opportunity open, they don’t necessarily remain open long, so transportation needs to happen right away, before the addict changes their mind.

If your loved one refuses treatment, we will remain committed to our support of your family. We will work with you to help enforce the “bottom lines” that were created during the pre-intervention and intervention process. Addicts can be highly manipulative. Your interventionist can help you develop, commit to, and honor your new behaviors. We know from years of experience that if you want to produce different results, a new action is required. Failure to honor these “bottom lines” or engaging in enabling behavior is counter-productive, and we are here to help support you in this.

Continuing Care.

For an interventionist, helping an addict see the new opportunity and going to treatment is only the beginning. The relationship with the interventionist lasts for the time the addict is in treatment, and beyond. Alcoholism and addiction are never “cured”; there is a daily reprieve that is contingent on the maintenance of this new way of life. The interventionist is vital in helping to construct a continuing care plan, that could involve identifying support groups, counseling, testing, career counseling, and addressing other longer term needs. For the families and friends, we highly recommend your joining a support group, and we are happy to provide resources and recommendations to help you.

Rehab placement

The decision to go to a treatment center should be made with an interventionist who is familiar with the options and can determine the right placement. It’s not a matter of “bad” treatment centers or “good” treatment centers; it is often a matter of chemistry and fit. For some clients, it is important to find the right rehab locally, so that the addicted person can begin building a healthy supportive environment in the area they will return to. For other intervention clients, it is important to create a safe space far away from the temptations or environmental factors that may be dangerous triggers. The right treatment center may even be located out of state. Cost is also a factor, as there are a range of fees and insurance options associated with treatment facilities.

A Certified Intervention Professional will be able to determine the best place for your loved one, keeping in mind all of these variables.

Case management and continuing care

Your interventionist will work with you to provide continuing care after treatment in a rehabilitation facility. They can arrange further counseling, a sober companion, or a stay in a transitional home such as a sober living community. The treatment center, the interventionist, the addict and the family will all work together to create a new life.

Alternative sentencing

Addicts often find themselves on the wrong side of the law. An addict can be arrested for drug possession, possession for sales or transportation of narcotics, DUI, petty theft or grand theft, or other crimes committed while aiding their addiction and obtain funds for their substance of choice. We know from over two decades of experience in the criminal justice system that incarceration is not a cure!

Alternative sentencing refers to creating opportunities (other than jail or prison) that are healthier for all concerned, while keeping the addicted person accountable. Alternative sentencing is beneficial for both the addict and society. The goal of alternative sentencing is to give the addict the opportunity to turn their life around and become a contributing member of society. Prison time doesn’t heal or help anyone. People who have committed a nonviolent crime, have no previous criminal record, and have demonstrated a desire to become sober and live a crime-free life have a greater chance of receiving alternative sentencing. An evaluation will usually be conducted to determine if this approach is right for the individual.

You need a lawyer who will advocate for you. Darren Kavinoky is a renowned criminal defense lawyer as well as an interventionist. Because of Darren’s unique experience, he may be able to help as an alternative sentencing advocate where there is a criminal court matter.

Please reach out to Intervention Partners for help. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to answer your questions. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-931-7717 or through our contact form.
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