When meeting with clients about a potential Intervention, a few questions are universally asked. One of these questions is, “What is the success rate for Intervention?” It is an honest question indeed. In this article, this important question will be answered.

When asked about the success rate, I always advise clients that I will answer in two ways. These answers frame success along two complimentary tracks. The first is obvious – success being defined as the addicted loved one going to treatment. Those who watch television programs about Intervention frequently question the success rate largely due to the fact that the individual nearly always goes to treatment on these television programs. “What about the real world?” “If you knew my addicted family member, you would know that he or she would never go to treatment based on a roomful of people asking. We have been trying that for years!”

Intervention is not another attempt using the same old methods. In the Recovery Community, one will frequently hear that insanity is doing the same thing over and again while expecting different results. Intervention is not doing that same thing, but rather something completely different!

In reality, most Interventionists will state that their success rate, as defined above, is in the 80-90 percent range. Our records bear this out. Well over eight in ten individuals choose treatment when family and friends present this life saving gift. Of the fifteen to twenty percent who choose not to engage in treatment the day of the Intervention, about half do choose to go within a week or two. These individuals feel the need to test the resolve of the Intervention team members and need a little more time to prove to themselves that getting help is the only real option. Unfortunately, there does remain a small percentage of men and women who will need to experience illness, automobile accident, the loss of a job or family, incarceration or even death to break the destructive cycle of addiction. Clearly the odds are in favor of Intervention. This success rate demonstrates the incredible power of the process.

As mentioned, another definition for success deserves our attention as well. Addiction breeds chaos, families are divided and destroyed by this equal opportunity killer. Families often live in fear and dysfunction for years while the disease attacks not only the addict but also nearly everyone around him or her. Intervention must address this chaos as well. Assisting the addict in making the choice to accept treatment is only one component of the Intervention process.

While preparing for the Intervention, it is not unusual to meet with many hurting friends and family members. The Interventionist is handed the opportunity to help those who are grieving. Education comes first. When meeting with the Team, we always spend considerable time answering questions about addiction and compulsive behaviors. We debunk the myths and stereotypes that have helped prevent families from addressing the problem. The elephant in the room looses its invisibility as each Team member is given the opportunity to share what they know about how the disease is attacking the addict as well as those around him or her. Learning the essentials about addiction and treatment options is a crucial component of the Intervention process. It is common for us to spend eight to ten hours with Team members in preparation for the Intervention.

During this preparation time, Team members are provided instructions on healthy ways to address the addiction. Old methods of judgment, condemnation and criticism are abandoned, as they have had no impact against addiction. In the place of unsuccessful techniques, Team members are given powerful new tools for dealing with the issue going forward. The days of division and manipulation are over. A united front in combating the disease is developed and a solid plan of action is developed. Team members unite in support of one another and new bonds of love and loyalty are established. Regardless of the choice of the addict to embrace or reject treatment, the Team members are given a new lease on life. Nothing will ever be the same again!

By this definition, every Intervention is successful. Though families are often fearful that if they do intervene, their loved one may never talk to them again, the truth is if they do not take action, their loved one may not have the opportunity to speak to them again due to the inevitable outcome of this progressive disease. Intervention is truly the gift of life, and when done properly the success of the process is not defined exclusively by the choice of the addict.

Dr. Jerry Law, D.Min., MDAAC, BRI-II, CIP