Interventions are tricky. The timing, the execution, the follow through – every part presents a different set of challenges. And measuring the success of an intervention is no different, probably because we don’t always have a yardstick. What determines success and failure for an intervention?
Generally, at least on TV, we call an intervention successful if the addicted person bursts into tears and rushes off, bags packed, to a treatment facility. And the opposite holds true as well – if the addict storms off furious and gets high, the intervention has failed and everyone wonders why they bothered. But it’s more complicated than that. Addiction itself is complicated, and so are interventions.
The important thing is getting the intervention right, performing it in a way that secures the best outcomes possible for everyone. Note the word everyone here. It’s not just about the addicted person. The success of an intervention cannot depend entirely on the actions of the sickest person involved. The family is hurting too, sometimes innocent children. If the intervention helps the family start healing, it’s a success. It’s all about how you do it and that’s why you bring in a professional. Here’s the short version – if done properly, an intervention cannot fail.
Family disease, family solution
A good intervention can’t fail because it takes everyone’s needs into account. If nothing else, it will teach family members how to stop condemning or enabling. This means peace of mind and healthier boundaries. It also means improved relationships, relationships that are honest, loving, and supportive.
The addicted person might be fully engaged in these improved relationships or they might not. We can’t really say how they’ll react. What we can say is that a healthy family dynamic is an absolute necessity for true recovery. So even if the addict storms off and continues to get high, a good intervention will start to develop the healthy family dynamic they’ll need when they are ready to get help. And in the meantime, this healthy family dynamic will be, well, healthy. It will help everyone begin to heal, no matter what the addict does.
The idea that interventions only succeed if the addict scampers off to treatment derives from a dangerous fallacy. It comes from the mistaken idea that the damage of addiction is reserved for the addict. And it’s an idea that keeps everyone very sick. Good interventions begin from the opposite premise, that addiction hurts everyone it touches. And we can best judge the success of an intervention by taking this truth seriously.