Here's one of the ways that a professional interventionist or intervention specialist can really help your family. Do you feel like you are losing a battle to get your loved one to commit to alcohol treatment or drug rehab? Are the family members in disagreement about what is the right way to help the struggling family member? Are you confused about terms like enablement and codependency, or struggling with the concept of tough love?

Do you feel like you have nothing but questions and want some answers?

There is no need to wait for your family member to hit rock bottom. What a professional intervention specialist (or interventionist) does is to help the family raise the bottom. The goal of the professsional intervention is to educate the family system and begin changing behaviors NOW.

One question we hear alot from families about an intervention is, who should be a part of the actual, live intervention and family meeting. For the best and most successful outcomes from the intervention, here are some of our normal recommendations and the process we go through.

Realize that alcohol is just another drug.

The interventions we are discussing in this article include alcohol interventions and drug interventions. Although there are some differences between interventions for alcohol abuse and interventions for drug abuse, they are far more similar than they are different.

For the purposes of our more general articles, we treat alcohol as just another drug in the long and growing list of substances that tend to be abused.

Understanding this perspective is important because ethyl alcohol is just another substance on the list of mood-altering chemicals, simply because they change the way the user feels. This is not to say the physical and psychological consequences are the same for alcohol when compared to the physical and psychological consequences any other change-the-way-I-feel substance(s) one might use. Each drug affects the body and mind in unique ways.

Family Member roles in the professional intervention

A closely related question: What roles should be played by those present at an alcohol or drug intervention? The people sitting in the circle... What should they do or say? We will touch on the roles of the folks that are present at an intervention, but intervention roles for alcohol and drug interventions will be be discussed more by us in the future.

How many people should be in a drug intervention?

Having more people present at an intervention is not necessarily better than having a select few. Our interventions are carefully planned to account for the unique characteristics of each case.

Which family members should attend the intervention meeting?

Apart from our intervention professionals that will lead the meeting, the first group to look at are the family members. Which family members should be a part of the intervention? Here are issues that need to be thought about when it comes to each specific member of the family in a professional intervention.

Location of family members

Where does the family member live? Is the family member's physical location conducive to his or her being at the intervention? How much travel and thus expense will be required to get them to the family meeting?

Personalities of family members

Is the general disposition and personality of the family member going to be a help or a hindrance to the planned intervention? Those who are hot-headed, very opinionated or overly demanding may cause more harm than good at the actual intervention meetings.

If you are seriously considering arranging an intervention for a loved one, you have probably thought about some of these things and already begun to carefully consider the possible contributions of your family members to a live intervention.

Relationship with the addict

What is the relationship like between the family member and the alcoholic or drug addict? How was their relationship before the addictive behavior began causing problems?

Parents of the addict

In most cases, the parents are involved in family interventions for alcohol and drug abuse. Most often, it is the parents (or a parent) who initiate thinking about an intervention as a possible solution.

When the addict is a legal adult of 18+ years of age, others cannot make medical decisions that go against the will of the person being helped. Needless to say, parents tend to care a great deal about their children's wellbeing regardless of their age; thus the parents are usually the first to consider a professional intervention. It is also common for the parents to take financial responsibility for any medical care, counseling services and professional intervention services for the addict. When a family member is deciding to go the intervention route, it is usually helpful and necessary for the parents to be heavily involved.


When there are siblings, they are usually involved in the intervention. Having been raised along with the addicted person, siblings within relatively close age ranges are going to have a unique relationship with the addict as well as important insights and observations about the addict. When the addict's relationship with siblings has remained close into adulthood, the siblings' involvement in the intervention is critical to success.

Why? Simply put, an addict's siblings are often uniquely qualified to lend their help and support to the intervention and ongoing recovery of the addict. Siblings - close siblings in particular - are going to know more about the addict's experience, state of mind, preferences, and so on than anyone else (apart from the addict's spouse or significant other.

The sibling can play an even more important role if the parents and the addict are enstranged from one another. In other cases, the parents are too old to be involved or have already passed away, leaving siblings as the only remaining family to get involved.

There are always unique situations, and it can be dangerous to make generalizations about family members. If the addict has a very complicated or contentious relationship with a sibling, then we are probably going to recommend the sibling not attend. If the addict's parents have been overly lenient or overly enabling, have repeatedly failed to lay down ultimatums, or have neglected to enforce rules, guidelines or conditions, then the parents should not be involved in the actual intervention. Such situations are incredibly important for us to understand during the intervention planning process.

Spouses, significant others and partners

Should spouses or significant others participate in the intervention? As the reader would probably surmise, if the addict is married or has a longtime partner (aka significant other) the involvement of the partner is typically assumed. We have also been involved in many interventions where the addict's partner is not part of the process. For example, if the spouse or significant other is participating in the alcohol or drug abuse with the addict, we may recommend they not attend until we fully understand the specifics of the situation. The same is true and merits further investigation if the spouse or partner has become enstranged from the addict.

Determining which family members should be involved in one of our professional interventions is critical - and it depends on the specifics of the case.

This is important: It not absolutely necessary for ANY particular family members to be part of the intervention. What matters far more are the decisions made during the intervention, the addict's reception to the possible avenues of a drug or alcohol treatment program after the intervention, and the addict's continued receptivity to recovery suggestions and recommendations both during and after any treatment program that might come into play.

In some cases, having a bunch of family members involved can actually be detrimental to the overall process. We want to involve people who are likely to be the most effective at getting the addict the help he or she needs. We do not suggest or recommend involving anyone who is likely to make the situation worse than it already is.

There are always questions about aftercare and how to keep your family member sober. In this, all you can do is offer support. Newer treatments such as EMDR therapy are being used successfully to treat trauma, depression, anxiety and stress, all feelings that contribute to relapses for addicts. This is something to check out for your loved one if you feel they are in danger of relapse before they have even attended treatment.

Author's Bio: 

T. J.’s path of recovery from the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction began with an intervention in January of 2006. As a product of an intervention he offers a true understanding of experience. With less than one year of sobriety, he established Eagle’s Bridge.

T.J.’s specialty is working with families and employers to create a plan of action to begin the recovery process. Recently he consulted for various behavioral health organizations by training staff on how to handle the initial call from chemically dependent people and their loved ones. He has also created drug and alcohol programs for those transitioning from inpatient treatment.

Over the past eight years T.J. has conducted over 150 interventions as a subcontractor for various organizations and families. He has a 98% success rate. T. J.’s commitment does not end after treatment is accepted. He continues to offer support as long as the families he serve need suggestions.