Accredited Counseling & Intervention Services, Inc.

sailboat When Enough is Enough!

  • Intervention
  • Process Overview
  • Step-by-Step
  • Models
  • Family
  • Q & A


ACIS Offers Professional Intervention: To shepherd a loved-one who is suffering from addiction into residential treatment.

Sailboat in front of islandAccredited Counseling and Intervention Services specializes in helping families with their loved-ones and their addictions. Most of the fears that families have about intervention are minimized or removed by having an interventionist present when talking to a loved-one. It is a magical and loving moment when your loved-one accepts help and goes off to treatment willingly. The same cannot be said, however, about the years, months and days leading up to the intervention. ACIS intervention services include:

  • Consultation, Intake Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Scheduling.
  • Pre-Intervention Planning and Strategizing Meeting; Write Recovery Message Letters, Contingency Management, and more.
  • Make Arrangements for Treatment; Verify Insurance Coverage and Required Funds; Determine Transport Plan, and Pack for Treatment.
  • Actual Intervention: An Emotional and Rewarding Experience.
  • Coordinate with the Treatment Program's Clinical Team, the Treatment Plan and Continuing Care Plan.
  • On-Going Counseling and Support for Family and Significant others.
  • On-Going Support available for Loved-One throughout Recovery Journey.

An interventionist is much more than the person who talks to your loved-one about a treatment center. Scott takes care of many important things, such as: setting up the intervention; making the arrangements with the treatment center; the transportation of your loved-one to the treatment center; and all the education and counseling that occurs before, during, and after the intervention. As an interventionist, Scott knows how much the family is dealing with. He is here to lift the burden off the family and make change more comfortable for both you and your loved-one.

Today millions of people tune in every week to watch Intervention on the A&E cable network. What happens on the show comes closer to the real thing than any documentary series has before, but it's still only a sort of hybrid approximation of an intervention. It's public, quick (due to extensive editing), and then it's over --- all in less than an hour. The whole process could never be shown in its entirety. Intervention, the series, shines a focused light on a hard subject. That it's popular and growing reveals where millions of families find themselves: frustrated, out of answers, and willing to try anything that might work. ACIS fields scores of phone calls and emails every week for help. As we talk, there is inevitably a bittersweet moment: they tell about their lost loved-one and how they are dealing with their problems. If you are on this website, interested in getting help, then you have joined the millions personally affected by this crisis.

Addiction is complex and requires a professional with experience to explain the process and guide you through the steps. Common misunderstandings include the belief that interventions do not work and that simply taking someone into treatment is enough to make substantial change for the family. An alcohol, drug, and/or process addiction interventionist can help everyone to share in their own responsibilities, which greatly facilitates long-term success at a treatment center. Merely getting addicts or alcoholics to accept treatment is not enough; the family must also change to increase the overall chance for continued sobriety.

Unless they go to treatment having taken full accountability for their actions, they're going for the wrong reasons. Going for the right reasons is what the Accredited Counseling and Intervention Services' intervention process provides.


An intervention usually starts with a phone call. By exploring this web-site, you will gain some basic information about addiction. The better you understand addiction, the easier the process will be for you as it is an emotional life changing experience. If you have been attending Al-Anon, Nar-anon, or similar support program, you will already have an advantage. Addiction is something that usually happens over years, and as time goes on, the family and/or friends will find themselves enabling the disease, even though their intent was to help.

The first intervention session is where information is exchanged (in person, by phone, or online). There will be questions and you will be asked about the situation with your lost loved-one (alcoholic or addict). What is your relationship with the lost loved-one? Is the issue about alcohol abuse, drug abuse or some other addiction? How long has this been a concern? Are children involved? Is the lost loved-one in legal trouble? Every situation is unique and yet there are many similarities found in addiction regardless of socio-economic, religious, ethnic and cultural issues. At the end of the first session, we will have determined if an intervention is appropriate and timely. If we proceed, an intervention team will be established, consisting of family, friends, co-workers, clergy, doctors, or whomever is to be included as a participant and who cares about the lost loved-one. The effective number usually is four to eight.

The next meeting will be with the entire team, and we will determine our action plan. We will decide what's to be said, who goes first, who is the closest, identify facts about use and behavior, what are the consequences for not accepting help, information about available treatment options, etc. Often, an intervention will be the only opportunity for this particular group to make the case for recovery. The intervention letters from participants are written from the perspective of love, including three statements. The first two statements concern how each person has seen addiction affect the life of the lost loved-one and how their own lives have been affected. The third deals with the consequences of the lost loved-one refusing treatment. The planning session usually lasts two or three hours and frequently, but not always, happens the evening before the actual intervention. It is an emotionally draining experience and a little easier on participants if this part happens close to the intervention. Even though the problem has been going on for some time, when the realization that the lost loved-one is not going to get well on their own or they have gotten themselves in some serious trouble, the urgency to do something is a motivator.

When everyone involved is prepared, the next step is the actual intervention. Participants will have written and rehearsed their letters to the lost loved-one. It will have been decided during the planning session where this will take place. Everyone meets together, emotions run high at this time but when an interventionist is facilitating, you can trust that he/she will act in the best interest of the process, respecting each participant. The purpose of the intervention is to build people up, not tear them down. The intervention must give the lost loved-one hope and inspire them to accept help. At the end of the process, ninety percent of lost loved-ones are inspired to seek help. The family intervention process usually ends gradually and includes follow-up support, both with the intervention participants and the lost loved-one.

It's best when each intervention participant begins recovery by understanding their own part in the addictive system. This can include family programs offered by most treatment centers and/or support groups such as twelve step groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon for family members and friends of alcoholics or addicts. Most communities offer many different twelve step meetings for alcoholics (AA), drug addicts (NA, CA, MA, CMA, etc.), sex addicts (SAA, SLA, COSA), gamblers (GA), food addicts (OA), meetings for gay and lesbian, and also, many churches have Celebrate Recovery groups dealing with addictions. Most meetings are open to the public, but many are closed to only addicts or only family and friends, thus the A or Anon stands for Anonymous. Check the .org websites and your local Central Offices for the specifics.


Intervention: Step-by-Step
Now that the decision to intervene has been made, it is essential to thoroughly plan and prepare for the intervention. The ACIS interventionist will guide you through the planning and preparatory process and will facilitate the intervention. The primary goal of the intervention is to have your loved-one accept the professional help that is being offered. Whether that be agreement to enter a treatment program, or agreement to work with a recovery counselor/coach on developing a treatment plan to recover.

Intervention planning and preparation will include:
An initial meeting of family/friends with the interventionist will be held to discuss in detail the history of the loved-one and his/her problems with alcohol/drugs and/or a process addiction. ACIS' interventionist will provide step-by-step worksheets to guide everyone through the planning and preparation phase.

  • Data gathering by phone: Intake Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Scheduling.
  • Contract agreement and payment. Sign all required forms so we can proceed.
  • Provide pre-intervention counseling by phone to those concerned about the loved-one.
  • First Meeting: Assemble those to be involved in the intervention for a planning and strategizing meeting. It's important that everyone be present throughout the process.
    • Write Recovery Message letters to the loved-one (worksheet and examples will be provided). Determine the consequences for loved-one if they do not accept professional help. Establish boundaries and a contingency plan.
    • Rehearse what will be said to the loved-one by each participant. Assure the team is united. Determine a chairperson, the order to read the letters, and a strong closer.
    • Review treatment options. Select an option, and backup options.
  • Make arrangements with treatment facility for immediate admission. Verify insurance authorization and/or financial arrangements.
  • Determine arrangement for transport to the treatment facility. Prepare the items that the loved-one will need ready to take with them to treatment (list will be provided).
  • Select when and where best to hold the intervention.
  • Second Meeting: Once all the plans and preparation have been completed and rehearsed, the actual intervention takes place.
  • The interventionist coordinates with the clinical team at the treatment facility, the treatment plan, and for continuing care planning.
  • The interventionist provides counseling for the family and significant others.
  • On-going support for the family and the loved-one.

Initial Meeting With the Interventionist
The initial meeting with the interventionist should include all persons that will possibly be present during the intervention. This may include family, friends, colleagues, doctors, therapists, neighbors, clergymen, or anyone else who has concern for the loved-one. The actual number of persons that will be present can range from 4 to 6, or more. The important thing is to have a united group of people present during the intervention that can offer support, love, compassion and firmness, yet without judgment or anger. There may also be other participants that may not be able to be present during the intervention, but will participate through letters or statements that will be read. During the initial meeting with the interventionist, the disease concept of alcoholism/addiction will be explained. Listen carefully and feel free to ask any questions. In addition, express any fears or concerns you may have. You will be asked about your relationship with the person and what has occurred that causes your concern. The interventionist will provide step-by-step worksheets that should be completed prior to the intervention rehearsal.

Writing a Letter to the Individual
An intervention is stressful for everyone. Emotions are going to surface during the intervention despite having rehearsed what we are planning to say to the individual.
Often it is simply hard to remember and convey everything we want to say. It is best to write a letter to the individual and bring it to the rehearsal and read it aloud to the interventionist and group. Writing the letter can be a very emotional moment. That's okay. It's understandable. Often, many years of pent up feelings, pain, anger, resentment, worry, and fear will suddenly surface, and reading the letter can be a very difficult thing to do. However, it does begin the healing process, and it is better to let our emotions emerge than it is to continue to stuff our feelings. As each team member reads their letter during the rehearsal, the reality of the actual intervention begins to unfold. Yes, we are soon going to finally confront the disease. Remember, that we are confronting a disease and not personally attacking the individual. The individual is a sick person, not necessarily a bad person, although the disease may have caused many bad things to happen. Here are some things you will want to try and convey in your letter:

  • Begin the Recovery Message Letter by expressing your love and concern. Talk about happier times before alcohol/drugs became such an enormous problem. Let the person know that the entire group shares your concerns, and also shares in the hope that the loved-one will accept the help that is being offered. Let the person know that you think he/she is beyond the point of being able to help him/her self, and that professional help is available, and also arranged. Ask him/her to make a decision to accept the help that is being offered.
  • Next, be very open, honest and direct about your concerns. Cite very specific examples of things that you have seen or that have occurred that are directly related to alcohol/drugs. Be very graphic, descriptive and specific about dates, times and places and events. Remember, we must break down the DENIAL that a very serious and uncontrollable problem exists. Don't minimize. We're not trying to shame the person, but many times the individual doesn't realize, and sometimes doesn't even remember, what all has taken place. We are trying to create a moment of clarity for the individual so that they may see, for a moment, just how bad things really are. We don't hold back at this point. We want him/her to see exactly what others see.
  • Let the person know how these things have made you feel. Let him/her know about the pain and worry and fear you have felt. Again, we're not trying to heap shame or guilt, yet it's okay to let him/her know how the use of chemicals has made us feel and what it has done to us. Tell him/her what the cost has been to your relationship, and also what you would like to see your relationship become once he/she agrees to accept professional help.
  • Let the person know that things cannot continue as they have in the past. Let him/her know that if he/she makes the decision to get professional help that you are willing to support and stand by him/her, but if the choice is to continue down the path to oblivion, that you cannot for your own sake and well-being continue to enable his/her self destruction. Ask him/her to make the decision to accept the professional help that has been arranged.
  • Consequences for not accepting treatment need to be identified. For example, no further financial support, and no help with housing.

The Intervention Rehearsal
Before the actual intervention takes place, the interventionist will guide the participants through a complete rehearsal. Often, this takes more time than the actual intervention. If the rehearsal is thoroughly and meticulously completed the actual intervention is often anticlimactic. Again, the success of an intervention is largely determined through planning and preparation, and this cannot be overemphasized. If possible, the rehearsal should take place in the same room where the intervention will occur. It is essential that everyone that plans to be present at the intervention be at the rehearsal.

During the rehearsal, the speaking order and seating arrangements for the actual intervention will be determined. The interventionist may make specific recommendations based upon his/her experience. It is a good idea for the lead off speaker to be someone that is highly respected by the individual, sometimes a senior family member or well respected friend. Everyone will read his/her own letter aloud. At the conclusion of each letter, it is important to reaffirm love and concern, yet also to ask the person to make the decision to accept the professional help that is being offered. The rehearsal will allow all participants to gain insight as to how the actual intervention will unfold.

Determining Intervention Strategies

Establishing Contingency Plans and Boundaries
During the intervention rehearsal, certain contingency plans will be discussed. What happens if the loved-one refuses to listen and walks out before the intervention even begins? What happens if the loved-one refuses to accept professional help and says they can stop or control drinking/using themselves? What if he/she says it's impossible to go to treatment today, and promises to go next week? The interventionist will discuss these questions and others during the intervention rehearsal. Rest assured, every imaginable excuse not to enter treatment has been heard before, and successfully dealt with, by an experienced interventionist. It is absolutely essential, however, for the group to remain focused and united.

In many situations, the alcoholic or addict has been enabled to continue a destructive lifestyle by family members, spouses, employers, and friends. This is referred to as codependency. Unfortunately, we can sometimes literally enable someone to death. By allowing destructive behavior to continue, we help no one. Not the loved-one, and certainly not ourselves. We may have grappled with the difficult question of why we continue stand by and allow problems to continue and even worsen. There are any number of reasons. However, enabling must stop now if the intervention is to be successful. Alcoholism and addiction are powerful and the individual is firmly in its grasp. If we continue to enable, nothing is likely to change. We must set healthy boundaries for our own sake or we will emotionally perish, too.

Selecting the Site, Date and Time for the Intervention
The ideal site for an intervention is a non-threatening and comfortable environment for everyone. However, the home of the individual is not a good site, because everyone could be told to leave immediately. The element of surprise is a key component to an intervention. In fact, without the element of surprise, an intervention may be very difficult to accomplish. Ideally, a friend or family member will drive the individual to a familiar and comfortable location. It may be uncomfortable but necessary to mislead the person about the nature of the trip. One thing that is absolutely essential is that the individual cannot be intoxicated or under the influence of any drug when the intervention takes place. It often works out well to intervene in the morning. The added advantage is getting the person to the treatment facility during business hours and to be able to meet his/her primary counselor.

The main thing to remember is that all planning, preparation, and rehearsals are complete before the actual intervention takes place.

Making Arrangements with the Treatment Facility
Since the goal of an intervention is to get the loved-one to accept professional help immediately following the intervention, it goes without saying that arrangements must be made in advance. Usually, the help is in the form of a treatment program, yet sometimes the help can be working with a substance abuse counselor on a frequent basis (many executives and professionals go this route). The interventionist knows what treatment resources are available and, based upon the information given, will be able to recommend facilities or professionals that are clinically and financially appropriate. The interventionist may be able to contact treatment facilities and to refer the families based upon his/her experience. A tour of the facility by family members is a good idea so that when the individual wants to know just what this particular treatment facility is like, the family members can let them know that they have seen the facility, met the staff and made all necessary arrangements.

The world of managed healthcare makes it difficult to get prior authorization to assure coverage for treatment. Until the individual has been clinically assessed and the managed care company has certified the individual for a certain level of care, there is no guarantee that any benefits will be available to pay for the cost of treatment. However, based on the experience of the interventionist as well as the treatment facility, an educated guess can be made. It is likely, however, that the treatment facility may require a cash or credit card deposit to guarantee admission. The family should make financial arrangements directly with the treatment facility. Sometimes it is necessary for the family or individual to pay for the full cost of treatment.

The interventionist will notify the facility of the date and time of the intervention, and confirm that a bed is available before the intervention begins. Once the intervention is successfully concluded, the interventionist will call the facility to let them know that the client is in route to the facility and provide the approximate arrival time.

Clothing, personal grooming and hygiene needs should be packed and in the car that will transport the individual to treatment before the intervention begins. It is usually not advisable for the person to return home to pack for an obvious reason; they may change their mind. However, the dignity of the individual must be respected at all times. Even when the person makes the decision to immediately enter a treatment facility, it may be necessary to deal with some real but unexpected or unknown last minute issues or circumstances. Each situation is a bit different. However, the most ideal situation is for the individual to proceed with either the interventionist, family members, and/or sober friends directly from the intervention to the treatment facility.

  • Overview
  • Crisis
  • Tough Love
  • Confrontational
  • Johnson
  • Love First
  • Systematic Family
  • S.M.A.R.T.


There are several methods of intervention that are widely used and considered as the most professional for treating addicted clients.

Primarily, most interventions fall into the direct intervention category, yet, there are other forms known as indirect interventions and forcible interventions. Direct interventions are types in which family members, friends, and loved-ones confront the addict with the help of a professional interventionist. If you've seen an episode of the reality television show Intervention, you have been introduced to the direct intervention model, which has an impressive 80 to 85% success rate.

Direct interventions don’t allow for much input from the addicts themselves. Rather, decisions are made ahead of time for them, and an entire treatment plan is set up in advance in hopes that they’ll acquiesce. These types of interventions are quite helpful for those who may struggle with wanting help but are fearful of asking for it or taking the first steps required to get there. Most times, taking the pressure off them is all they need to agree to treatment.

Indirect methods involve preparing the family to interact with a substance abuser so that the addict’s environment is more conducive to healing. While interactions with substance abuse counselors and/or psychotherapists are open not just to the family, but to the addict too, some addicts will relentlessly refuse to get help. In these situations, the indirect intervention still assists the family as long as they’re willing to seek help. Forcible interventions are carried out by professionals with the purpose of having an individual committed against their will. Interventions may be formal with an interventionist present or informal, lacking a professional present. Across the board, formal interventions are more effective.


Crisis Intervention is primarily direct in form. These interventions are valuable for those who find themselves in emergent situations where time is not a luxury. Crisis interventions are suitable for addicts, people suffering from mental health breakdowns, or those dealing with both. Approximately 50 to 60% of people who have severe mental health disorders are also substance abusers.

If a crisis is emerging and the addict is still not willing to accept help, an intervention professional may be able to get the person evaluated for commitment to hospitalization or treatment involuntarily, an action that makes it no longer a direct intervention, but a forcible one. This is especially true in cases where the addict may harm themselves or someone else. While substance abuse is known to increase the risk of suicidal attempts, mental health disorders pose an even bigger threat. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports some 90 percent of people who die from suicide are mentally ill.

A crisis doesn’t have to be aligned with mental stability. It could be legal or financial troubles, or even homelessness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes 13 percent of all admissions to addiction treatment centers in 2011 were homeless people. Other times the effects of substance abuse may be bleeding into the lives of others. For example, an addicted parent may be neglecting their children due to addiction. Crisis interventions work best when family members and support persons are involved.

The process is much like a direct intervention carried out by family and a professional interventionist. Loved-ones need to gather around the addict at this time and show support and concern. Simultaneously, this is the time to tell the addict in your life how his/her behaviors are affecting you and others he/she cares about. Given that a crisis isn’t planned, getting this kind of intervention together on short notice can be difficult, and it is advisable that you seek professional help when dealing with any addict who may be a threat to others or their own well-being.


A Tough Love intervention can be direct or indirect in nature and is the primary go-to intervention for those who have had a difficult time saying no to the addict in their life. The tough love approach is perfect for family members and loved-ones who want to stop enabling the addicted party and see that he/she gets the help he/she needs. If you’ve come to a point of no return where you’ve tried everything without results, this may be your best bet. This method often scares loved-ones, because there’s always a possibility of it not working and potentially pushing the addict further away from you. Thus, professionals in the field urge that it be used as an absolute last resort.

As commonplace as the tough love terminology is, this isn’t something you should attempt without the help of a professional interventionist. Tough love is more than just making veiled threats; it’s following through with them.

If your adult child is an addict who still lives in your home, tough love means it’s time to cut those ties and insist he/she seek treatment before he/she can return home. You must limit all resources an addict has when applying tough love strategies, so loaning him/her money, paying his/her bills, doing his/her laundry, and managing his/her problems are out of the question. When an interventionist is present for this type of intervention, the interventionist can act as a support person for the addict, who will likely feel that everyone else has turned against him/her. This in turn benefits everyone if the addict yields to the pressure he/she feels and turns to the interventionist for help.


The traditional Confrontational Model of Intervention is as direct as it gets and involves firmly challenging the addictive behaviors by pointing out undesirable behavior and consequences caused by the addict, as well as laying expectations of recovery on the addict’s shoulders. Years ago, this model of intervention was harsh by today’s standards and involved using indirect force - even forms of manipulation - to usher the addict into some form of treatment and rid him/her of their substance abuse behaviors, which were viewed then more as character flaws than an illness. The core of confrontation in the mid-1990s was placing blame on the addict and focusing on punishing him/her until they changed their ways.

Today, confrontation is still highly used among interventionists, but it handled with more care. Generally, addicts respond far better to confrontation when it isn’t overtly negative in nature. Confrontations that involve chastising the addict and pointing out everything he/she does wrong without offering him/her support and compassion are not typical today, and for good reason - they aren’t effective. According to a published studies, confrontation intervention methods for problem drinkers were successful in reducing drinking by 50 to 60% after six weeks; however, drinking was proven to be more frequent, and one-year reports weren’t as successful among those who were treated in a directive-confrontational manner. Over 80% relapsed within the first year.

Most confrontational interventions only happen one time, following closed meetings the family and interventionist used to organize the event. If the addict accepts help during the intervention and enters treatment, the rest of the family members and loved-ones go on with their lives during treatment. If the addict resists treatment, there may be consequences, such as their family cutting off all contact with him/her.


Stemming from the confrontational intervention model, the Johnson Model of Intervention focuses on educating a caregiver, such as a spouse or parent, on how to confront the addict and encourage him/her to seek help for their substance abuse problem. Blame is avoided in the modern-day confrontational intervention models, and concentration is directed toward ways to treat the addiction with therapy measures.

This method typically involves a handful of closed meetings with a professional interventionist who preps the caregiver for confrontation with the addict in a way that will subtly ease the addict into conversation instead of motivating a defensive reaction. The American Psychological Association reports that an overwhelming portion of social networks - 70 percent - do not carry out the Johnson Model of intervention, despite research that touts its efficacy against other methods.


Another direct form of confrontational intervention is the Love First Approach to Intervention, which occurs on neutral territory, such as the family home or in an interventionist’s office. This method encourages family members to provide love and compassion to the addict and continue with such empathy throughout and after treatment. In the beginning, family members will begin to refute excuses the addict makes, but do so in positive ways. For example, if the addict insists he/she can’t seek treatment because he/she has children to care for, let him/her know that you have already arranged for alternative care for them with a trusted family member they enjoy being with. It helps to point out that this is a temporary situation.

It is vital that all participants of the Love First method stay calm during this period and understand that the premise is to avoid the tension, conflict, and defensiveness that arguing and hostile moods bring to the table. Even when an addict erupts or loses his/her cool, everyone else must remain calm. The trademark of this intervention technique is that every participant writes a letter to the addict detailing how they feel, including memories that bond them, and ending with supportive reinforcements.

In addition to the letter that each loved-one will read aloud to the addict during the main event, each participant will prepare a list of consequences for the addict should he/she choose not to get help. These consequences include anything from a parent cutting off financial resources to a spouse filing for divorce and custody of the kids. The Love First approach allows for support and compassion that balance the more aggressive confrontational aspects of other intervention models.


The Systematic Family Model of Intervention
Family members often have a larger influence over addicted loved-ones than they perceive. Typically, their point of view may be skewed merely because the addict hasn’t responded to their efforts thus far, but the right tools and language, that an intervention professional can provide, can make all the difference. Some addicts won’t be willing to help themselves no matter how much damage their substance abuse has inflicted on their life, but many will seek help after hearing how much their behaviors have damaged the lives of others who they care about. In fact, family involvement is one of the primary reasons many end up seeking treatment, as well as one of the biggest factors in preventing substance abuse altogether.

This is the typical intervention most people are accustomed to hearing about. It centers on bringing the family together to communicate their feelings and concerns to the addict. While the addict is likely to have to listen to the devastating effects his/her behavior has had on the family, it is not laid on him/her in a shameful or blaming manner. The lines of communication are open so that addicts may relay their feelings as well. If there is a victim in this scenario, then the whole family as a unit is a victim of addiction and its effects. A skilled interventionist acts as the facilitator of a more peaceful engagement between parties, encouraging openness in a way that defensive attitudes aren’t elicited.

When a systematic approach is planned, the interventionist actually makes the addict aware of it and invites him/her to attend the gathering in an effort to avoid making him/her feel ambushed or like he/she has no control over the situation. This approach is almost like a string of therapy sessions that guide the family in communicating more effectively with one another. Not only is the addict urged to seek treatment, but their loves ones are urged to attend support group meetings by organizations like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, resources for the families of alcoholics and addicts. Generally, this intervention is carried out in several long spurts or meetings over a period of a few days, but many families continue with them for long-term treatment purposes as well.


The ARISE Intervention brings the best of both worlds to the table - both indirect and direct models of intervention. It focuses on the whole family group and how they work together to solve the addiction problem rather than just the addict and what his/her behavior is doing to everyone else. In one study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 83 percent of patients agreed to enter treatment following an ARISE intervention. This method focuses on bettering the entire family. While the addict is in an addiction treatment program, his/her family members and loved-ones are also seeking counseling and learning how to manage life with an addict, how to help him/her after treatment, and how to heal their own wounds that stemmed from their loved-one’s substance abuse.

An ARISE meeting is planned ahead of time, but not in secrecy, and the addict can be a part of these sessions if he/she wishes. Sometimes it takes more than one meeting, and other times, the addict agrees right away and the meetings are stopped as no longer required. ARISE interventions not only encourage the addict to seek treatment, but they educate the family as to why treatment is indeed necessary and what it’s like to be an addict.


An intervention plan based on the S.M.A.R.T. Model uses:

  • A Cognitive Behavioral Model to understand the substance abuser's addictive behaviors.
  • A Systemic Model to understand the impact of the client's substance abuse on the family as the addiction evolves through progressive stages.

Each intervention is tailored to the individual and his or her particular circumstances, for example, the substance used, the individual’s age, and preferences. We are sensitive to cultural differences and have worked with diverse families on treatment choices for their loved-ones. Treatment choice alternatives include: 12-step based programs vs. non-12-step based alternatives such as faith-based programs. Some clients prefer working with a Recovery Coach counselor.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym which means:

  • Systemic: Systemic refers to a family that functions in healthy or unhealthy ways. ACIS assumes that by empowering the family first, we improve the substance abuser’s chance of getting and staying sober.
  • Modular: ACIS is a full Continuum of Care Service Provider. We believe that treatment and recovery work together to foster freedom from addiction.
  • Approach to Recovery and Treatment: There is a world of difference between Recovery and Treatment. Some clients simply need treatment, others need a much broader long-term approach where the goal is active and life-long recovery.

The S.M.A.R.T. Model of Interventions
Using the S.M.A.R.T. Model, we focus on the behaviors that are common to most substance abusers, and we seek to explore the cognitive basis for these. S.M.A.R.T. Model Interventions proposes at least 3 types of interventions:

  1. Recovery Intervention: The goal of this type of intervention plan is active and life-long participation in recovery, most commonly using services such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. A Recovery Intervention may also include Christian or faith-based alternatives such as Celebrate Recovery or other support groups, Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery, Lifering recovery, and so on.

  2. A Recovery Intervention may include inpatient treatment followed by sober living housing for several months, followed by regular participation in support group meetings, outpatient, recovery coaching, etc. The goal of a Recovery Intervention is a complete lifestyle change and dedication to active recovery.

  3. Crisis Intervention: When a young person is only experimenting with no signs of prior or long term abuse, it can sometimes be counter-productive to push a teenager into lifelong recovery meetings. Crisis Intervention focuses on the immediate problems without requiring a long term recovery plan.

  4. ACIS uses a Systemic form of intervention which works collectively with the family unit.

  5. Closure Intervention: A Closure Intervention allows a family to feel that they have done everything possible before detaching from their loved-one in order to recover their own lives.

  6. Closure interventions begins healing the family outside of the addiction.

In summary, it is important to have an interventionist who can tailor the intervention based on your needs and expectations. Allow ACIS to guide you through choices that benefit you and your loved-ones.


Whether or not the lost loved-one accepts treatment, the rest of the family can engage in counseling that helps them to heal, learn to care for themselves, and no longer support the addict's substance abuse and poor behaviors (i.e., gambling or sexual acting-out). By isolating the addict, the family often leaves them no other choice but to seek treatment. ACIS offers counseling services that give families a toolkit to better deal with their own problems. A counselor can teach the family how addiction to substances and process addictions evolve and how to respond.


Who should be on the intervention team?

An intervention team usually includes four to eight people who are important in the life of your loved-one. Your intervention specialist can help you select the members of your team. They could be people your loved-one respects, admires, depends on and likes, and may include adult relatives, co-workers, doctors, or community leaders such as clergy members or teachers.

Don't include anyone who:

  • Your loved-one dislikes.
  • Has an unmanaged mental health issue or substance abuse problem.
  • Might sabotage the intervention.
  • May not be able to limit what he or she says to what you agreed upon during the planning meeting.

If you think it's important to have someone involved but worry that it may create a problem during the intervention, consider having that person write a recovery message letter that someone else can read at the intervention.

How can you help ensure a successful intervention?

Keep in mind, your loved-one's problem involves intense emotions. The process of organizing the intervention and the intervention itself can cause conflict, anger and resentment even among family and friends who know a loved-one needs their help.

To promote a successful intervention:

  • Don't hold an intervention on the spur of the moment. It can take several weeks to plan an effective intervention. However, don't make it too elaborate, either, or it may be difficult to get everyone to follow through.
  • Plan the time of the intervention. Make sure you choose a date and time when the addicted person is least likely to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Do your homework. Research your loved-one's addiction or substance abuse issue so that you have a good understanding of it.
  • Appoint a single person to act as a liaison. Having one point of contact for all team members will help you communicate and stay on track.
  • Share information. Make sure each team member has the same information about your loved-one's addiction and the intervention so everyone is on the same page. Hold meetings or conference calls to share updates and agree to present a united team.
  • Stage a rehearsal intervention. Here, you can decide who will speak when, sitting arrangements and other details so there's no fumbling during the real intervention with your loved-one.
  • Anticipate your loved-one's objections. Have calm, rational responses prepared for each reason the addicted person may give to avoid treatment or responsibility for behavior. Offer support to your loved-one that makes it easier to engage in treatment, such as arranging child care or attending counseling sessions with him or her.
  • Avoid confrontation. Deal with your loved-one with love, respect, support and concern - not anger. Be honest, but don't use the intervention as a forum for hostile attacks. Avoid name-calling and angry or accusing statements.
  • Stay on track during the intervention. Veering from the plan can quickly derail an intervention and prevent a helpful outcome for your loved-one, perhaps worsening family tensions. Be prepared to remain calm in the face of your loved-one's accusations, hurt or anger, which is often meant to deflect or derail the conversation.
  • Ask for an immediate decision. Don't give your loved-one time to think about whether to accept the treatment offer, even if he or she asks for a few days to think it over. Doing so just allows your loved-one to continue denying a problem, go into hiding or go on a dangerous binge. Be prepared to get your loved-one into treatment immediately if he or she agrees to the plan.

What if our loved-one refuses help?

Unfortunately, not all interventions are successful. In some cases, a loved-one may refuse the treatment plan. The addicted person may erupt in anger or insist that he or she doesn't need help or may be resentful and accuse you of betrayal or being a hypocrite.

Emotionally prepare yourself for these situations, while remaining hopeful for positive change. If your loved-one doesn't accept treatment, be prepared to follow through with the changes and consequences you presented.

Often, children, partners, siblings and parents are subjected to abuse, violence, threats and emotional upheaval because of alcohol and drug problems. You don't have control over an addicted person's behavior. However, you do have the ability to remove yourself - and any children - from a destructive situation.

Even if an intervention doesn't work, you and others involved in your loved-one's life can make changes that may help. Ask other people involved to avoid enabling the destructive cycle of behavior and take active steps to encourage positive change.

What self-destructive behaviors are appropriate for intervention?

Any self-destructive behavior can be addressed in an intervention: alcoholism, alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, drug abuse, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, eating disorders, and any other self-destructive behavior.

Generally, people think of substance abuse as being most applicable to intervention. In fact, that is the example used throughout this web site. However, any addiction or compulsive behavior is appropriate. Even an elderly person, no longer able to live alone safely yet resisting assisted-living arrangements, can be helped through the intervention process.

Why is it necessary or desirable to conduct an intervention?

Because nothing else has worked.

Most people attempt to change a person or situation through reason and discussion, usually one-on-one. When this fails, frustration may lead to anger. This can go on for years.

Appeals to reason and one-on-one discussions rarely produce change in someone engaged in self-destructive behaviors.

On the other hand, an intervention that includes several people meaningful to the person, that is executed in a controlled and logical way, that focuses on changing everyone's behavior at least for the moment, is highly effective.

What can my family expect to happen during an intervention?

In order to prepare for an intervention, family members and friends gather to discuss the details with the interventionist. They jointly decide what form the intervention will take, identify who should be included in the intervention, develop education and treatment plans, develop an intervention plan and schedule, and then execute the plans.

Family and friends often enter this process with apprehension and frequently with a high level of frustration and anger. They often feel betrayed, confused, guilty, and defensive. They sometimes blame each other as well as themselves and the addicted person for their difficulties.

All can expect these feelings tempered or resolved during an intervention.

Sharing and expressing feelings gives purpose to the rehashing of old pains, and allows the family and friends to receive comfort and to begin to resolve the built up rage and hurt that has influenced many of their relationships and interactions.

These intervention meetings transform the family in ways necessary for lasting change to occur.

And this cohesive group approaching the addict offers something much better than a confrontation. The group creates a different world for everybody to live in.

What are the forms or variations an intervention can take?

There is no absolute right way to intervene in someone else's life. In fact, there is a school of thought that argues that any form of intervention is abhorrent, a violation of free speech and of an individual's right to choose. Nevertheless, as individuals and as a society we are always influencing others whether or not we want to, and sometimes we decide to intervene purposefully.

In addition to family interventions there are workplace interventions involving Employee Assistance Programs, executive interventions for senior personnel in professions or corporations, court involved interventions and diversion programs, interventions by Impaired Professional Programs conducted by professional membership organizations, and many others.

When thinking about family interventions, there are generally four basic orientations:

  • Simple Intervention

    Sometimes just a simple request from someone who matters can turn the tide. Simply ask the person to not drink. Believe it or not, this sometimes works.

    It is extraordinary how many times this has not been done because of a belief that nothing was ever going to change. And if this has not been done, it should always be the first step before any more complicated or involved form of intervention is embarked upon.

  • Crisis Intervention

    This is the polar opposite of the Simple Intervention. Crisis Interventions occur in dangerous situations involving reckless driving, weapons, hospital emergency rooms, or violence or threats of violence. It is obvious in these situations that a person is in immediate danger to himself or others. The immediate objective in these cases is to calm the crisis and to create safety for all.

    Remember, a crisis often creates golden opportunities for family members to guide someone to accept help.

  • Classical Intervention

    The most common form of family intervention remains the Johnson's approach or some variation thereof. It has been used for over thirty years for thousands of interventions with great success.

    The focus is on the loved-one. The immediate goal is for the loved-one to enter treatment, hopefully soon.

    Family involvement varies, but at the very least there is enough involvement to plan the intervention prior to the intervention day. Family involvement is often extensive after intervention day to address problems that arise either for themselves or for their loved-one.

    Family education is primarily aimed at preparing for the intervention day. There is frequently some additional education after intervention day to help the family adjust to the changing circumstances. Many treatment programs have fine family programs designed to educate the family about addiction and how to take care of themselves when living with a recovering person.

  • Family System Intervention

    A family systems intervention centers on the family. The goal is for everyone in the family to change their ways, at least in regards to the self-destructive behavior, knowing that this changed behavior will have a tremendous influence on the loved-one.

    In this view, the whole process is considered to be the intervention. Intervention day itself is not nearly as significant as in a more classical approach since the whole family, including the loved-one, is considered the subject of the intervention. The loved-one is sometimes invited to participate in the process from the beginning.

    Family involvement begins very high and continues to be high whether or not the loved-one goes to treatment. The educational process is viewed as integral and emphasizes the basics of addiction, the roles of guilt and shame in the family system, the recognition of enabling and provoking behaviors, and the development of a recovery plan for each family member. The goal is for each family member to change behavior and consequently change the situation or system in which the addiction has thrived.

Note that although these forms of intervention were discussed separately, they are rarely so distinct in practice. Many of the characteristics of one can be found in the others depending on the situation. For example, system considerations are always a factor even in the more classical approaches, but are usually not so openly addressed. Because of the many differences among families and situations, an actual intervention often becomes a blend of several of these forms.

What can my family expect in the long run from doing an intervention?

Think of a family's interactions as a well choreographed dance. Everything they do and say to each other has been perfected by hours of rehearsal. Each member recognizes their cues and executes their steps without thinking - day after day after day.

Imagine the dancers circling around one member's drug use problem. Everyone knows the moves by heart, even the addict. And although everyone hates the dance, no one can imagine how to stop doing what they are doing. In fact wanting to stop has become a part of the dance. Guilt and suffering are also written in. The family could go on like this forever.

An intervention is a controlled or choreographed crisis. The dance, business-as-usual behavior of the addict and family, is stopped for a long enough time to get everyone's attention.

One day a group of the dancers stand still when they would normally being turning somersaults. At that moment everything changes in the family.

Although the transition is not always smooth and some dancers may bump into each other at first, the important thing is that the dance is brought to a stop; the addict has no one left to do the old steps with. And at long last, the family has the addict's complete attention.

It now becomes possible for a different dance to begin.

An intervention changes the dance.

What kind of treatment works best?

There is debate about what kind of treatment works the best. There are choices between inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, AA, and of course the "nothing but the person's change of heart" approach. An argument can be made for almost any of these treatment approaches.

Sometimes it will be obvious which approach is more suitable. For example, if the person is in an acute crisis, inpatient care is more than likely advisable. Cost considerations also drive treatment decisions. The interventionist could favor one approach over another.

Again, your interventionist has a broad range of knowledge of the treatment resources available. Be open and discuss all these considerations.