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  • Writer's pictureTanya Cook, CAI

Don't Wait for Rock Bottom



Many who are struggling with a loved one with #SubstanceUseDisorder (SUD) have such misconceptions of what #intervention is and is not. And in my experience, most people grossly underestimate the value of intervention.

You see, I was in the throes of dealing with two sons with SUD for well over a decade and never even considered the thought of hiring a professional #interventionist.


I often wonder now, if we would have had the assistance of a professional interventionist would we have stayed in the cycle of addiction as long as we did? How much trauma, near death experiences, repeated treatment stays, totaled vehicles, legal fees, and money could have been spared just by having a professional to guide us through the process and follow us through a long-term continuing care plan?



The truth is, intervention is one of the most effective ways to getting an individual into treatment for SUD.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports a 90% success rate when involving a professional interventionist.

It is important to note that entering treatment is a great first step! But what happens when your loved one is threatening to leave treatment against medical advice (AMA), is struggling to transition to different levels of care, such as, partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient program (IOP), or sober home living? Or in some cases a loved one returns home from treatment only to relapse days, weeks, or months later because the process has been cut short, and/or the family is not equipped and lacks the support to know the next right step for their loved one? Who is there to guide you through these transitions?


I don’t know about you, but I was not issued an instruction manual that provided me with step by step instructions on how to deal with loved ones with Substance Use Disorder.



In my own circumstances, usually some sort of crisis served as our intervention. And I think most of us would agree that our best thinking does not occur during a crisis.

I didn’t know how to identify the best treatment programs in which to address my sons’ specific issues. And as a result of my lack of knowledge and professional guidance, my two sons (collectively) went to the same Houston area treatment center TEN times!

Nothing against this particular treatment center; however, clearly, they were not responding to the treatment they were receiving. But where else should they go? This was the only place in which I was familiar. We were lost and had nobody to help guide us.


When my then 19-year-old son completed his first inpatient treatment program and looked at me and said, “I’m good mom. Thirty days is enough. I don’t need to go to outpatient treatment. I don’t need sober home living,” I believed him.

After all, he looked healthy, his eyes were clear, and his treating doctor said that he was “the model patient!” So, we politely refused the recommended outpatient treatment, and within a short period of time the dreaded other shoe dropped (as I became all too familiar with), and we were right back where we started, and even worse! I had more knowledge, but still no guidance in terms of the next right step.

What I now know about intervention.

There are three primary categories of intervention.

  • Direct intervention is the most favorable; involves family, friends and loved ones; brings the substance abuse to light; presents a treatment plan to the person of concern; presents consequences should he/she refuse treatment; with the primary goal being to get the person of concern to treatment.

  • Indirect intervention takes a close look at the person of concern’s family and environment. The interventionist guides the family in a manner in which changes can be made to the person of concern’s environment, making it more conducive to healing.

  • Forcible intervention is court-ordered, or physician mandated.

Some specific types of interventions include:

  • Arise Intervention – This is the type of intervention that I most prefer, and the model in which I am trained and mostly practice. This model involves both direct and indirect intervention, focuses on the entire family, looks at generational trends/patterns, acknowledges SUD as a disease and brings to light how the disease impacts the family unit as a whole. All shame and blame are removed in the Arise process, and both the person of concern and the family members are encouraged to seek treatment and education. The Arise model is one of the only evidenced-based intervention models to date, and as such not only leads to high success rates for persons entering treatment, but also maintaining long-term sobriety.

  • The Johnson Model – The family is coached on how to confront the person of concern in a manner to convince him/her to seek treatment.

  • Crisis Intervention – Can quickly go from direct to forcible, as the interventionist is working to prevent an imminent life crisis from occurring as a result of a person’s SUD.

  • Tough Love – Although sometimes warranted, this strategy should be a last resort. Threats are made to the person of concern, of which family members must follow through. This includes cutting off the person of concern from financial support, revoking child custody rights, divorce, job loss, and even homelessness.


Of all the things in which I spent money to help my two sons, I wish that intervention had been at the top of the list.

And when you think that you can’t afford intervention, think about the costs of NOT intervening.


In my own case, the cost of intervention would have been equal to, or less than, the cost of just ONE (of the many) ER or hospital/ICU stays, less than just ONE (of the many) totaled vehicles, and certainly not even close to the cost of a funeral had one or both of my sons died in their addictions.


And while there are no guarantees when it comes to intervention and treatment for a loved one with SUD, I leave you with these final tips.

  1. Don’t wait for rock bottom.

  2. Focus on solutions, not problems.

  3. Don’t enable, condone, or ignore the substance abuse.

  4. Set boundaries and stick to your consequences.

  5. Get a professional to help guide you and your family through the process!


If you or a loved one are in need of intervention services, please reach out to me via email at or by phone at 713-249-6658.

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