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Do-it-Yourself Interventions

Do it yourself interventions are not usually recommended because it may only make things much worse for the Afflicted Loved One’s long-term recovery.  Then there are the horror stories of family members tricking the Afflicted Love One into going to rehab, including lying to the Afflicted Loved One about where you are taking him or her, or virtually kidnapping them to treatment.  The Afflicted Loved One is often traumatized by the event and much valued time is wasted.  Further, the Afflicted Loved One feels justified in lying to the family given that he or she has been lied to by the family.

Nevertheless, some Afflicted Loved Ones are ready to get help and being honestly and compassionately confronted by family members may just be enough for them to accept help and get treatment.  If you want to try to do an intervention yourself, I recommend you prepare yourself and I recommend the following books:


     When Enough is Enough, Finnigan, Candy. Avery, 2008. Compassionate advice on confronting a loved one from one of the renowned addiction specialists on the hit A&E series Intervention.

     Love First, Jay, Jeff and Jay, Debra. Hazelden, 2000. A new approach to intervention for alcoholism and drug addiction.

     Intervention, Johnson, Vernon E., D.D. Hazelden, 1986, A step-by-step guide for families and friends of chemically dependent persons.

     How to Change Someone You Love, Lamm, Brad. St. Martin’s Press, 2009, Four steps to help you help them.

     Invitational Intervention, Landau, Judith and Garrett, James, Booksurge, 2006. A step by step guide for clinicians helping families engage resistant substance abusers in treatment.

Family Intervention

Often more than one person in a family may be suffering from addictive or compulsive behaviors.  In these circumstances, a family intervention brings together the entire family to work on their own issues – addiction, co-dependency, or some mental health issue.  A striking example was a family in which the husband was addicted to cocaine and the wife had major depression and other mental health issues.  If we treated just one of them, the other would not be able to move forward with the sick spouse.  A family intervention was needed.

What About a Marchmann Act?

Using The Marchmann Act -or- Court Ordered Treatment Laws

The State of Florida has two useful tools to force someone who needs treatment for substance abuse, chemical dependency, or mental health issues, but who refuses to seek help – The Baker Act and the Marchmann Act.  In Florida, the Baker Act is a procedure that allows a health care professional, such as a doctor, or a law enforcement professional, such as a policeman or policewoman to take a person who is threatening to harm him or herself or others and appears to have some mental health issue or substance abuse issue.  In California, this procedure is known as 5250 after the section contained in the California Code.  The Marchmann Act is a court procedure where a person is court ordered to enter treatment or risk contempt of court and serve that time in jail.  Again, most states have similar laws, but they vary greatly in effectiveness and enforcement.


The Florida Marchmann Act procedures vary in the State of Florida because each county has their own procedure.  Generally though, Marchmann Act petitions are filed in the Probate Court and are either one of the following or both:

  • Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization (“IAS”)

  • Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Treatment for Substance Abuse (“ITSA”)

The Petition for IAS may be filed when there is a reason to believe that a person is substance-abuse impaired and:

  • Has lost the power of self-control,

  • Is incapable of realizing the need for, and unable to make a rational decision about substance abuse services, and

  • Has inflicted, attempted or threatened to inflict or, unless admitted to a facility, is likely to inflict physical harm on himself or herself or another.

The Petition may only be filed by a) the person’s spouse or guardian, b) a relative, c) a director of a licensed service provider, d) a private practitioner, or e) three adults who have personal knowledge of the person’s substance abuse impairment.  In the case of a minor, only the parents, legal guardian, or licensed service provider can file a petition.

The Order for IAS will be issued of the court finds the criteria have been met.  The facility has five (5) days to assess the patient, after which, the petitioner may file a Petition for ITSA.

After the Petition for ITSA is filed, a hearing date is set, the current assessment results are subpoenaed as evidence, and the patient is summoned to appear.  The court will determine of treatment is needed and if the Order for ITSA is warranted.

Why not just use this procedure instead of intervention?

The Marchmann Act or related law in your state takes the decision whether someone you love gets treatment out of your hands, your loved one’s hands, or both and hands it to a judge.  Perhaps the judge will not agree.  Further, there is an element of trauma associated with being taken into custody and being held in a facility that may or may not be clean and comfortable.  Each county determines its own procedure so the effectiveness and care for the client is assumed by the state.  Finally, the client can feel like a criminal by being taken into custody and may suffer greatly and become even more resistant to treatment or suffer further psychological damage.   I believe it is critical to weigh whether the Marchmann Act will help or hurt.  From time to time, a loved one may be so impaired and potentially harmful to himself or herself that the Marchmann Act is a sound option.

Recommended Reading List

Addiction Intervention, Robert K. White, M.A., C.E.A.P. and Deborah George Wright, Haworth Press, 1998.


The Anatomy of Addiction, Morteza Khaleghi, Ph.D. and Karen Khaleghi, Ph.D., Palgrave McMillan, 2011.


How to Change Someone You Love, Brad Lamm, St. Martin’s Press, 2009.


How to Help the One You Love, Brad Lamm, St. Martin’s Press, 2009.


I want to Change My Life, Steven M. Melemis, Ph.D., M.D., Modern Therapies, 2010.


Intervention, A Step-by-Step Guide for Families and Friends of Chemically Dependent Persons, Vernon E. Johnson, D.D., Hazelden, 1986.


Invitational Intervention, Dr. Judith Landau & James Garrett, Booksurge, 2006.


Love First, Jeff Jay and Debra Jay, Hazelden, 2000.


The Mindful Path to Addiction Recovery, Lawrence Peltz, M.D., Shambhala Publications, 2013.


Reclaim Your Family from Addiction, Craig Nakken, Hazelden, 2000.


The Spirituality of Imperfection, Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, Bantam, 1992.

Recovery Resources
SMART Recovery

Recovery, Mental Health and General Resources

Adult Children of Alcoholics                                                 

AIDS and HIV Information                                                                 

Alcoholics Anonymous                                            

Al-anon and Alateen                                                                    

Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA)                        

Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA)                                    

Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center (BPDRC)

Children & Adults with Attention Deficit
and Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)                                                

Co-dependents Anonymous                                                             

Co-dependents of Sex Addicts                                           

Crystal Meth Anonymous                                                                  

Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)                         

Faces and Voices of Recovery                           

Families Anonymous                                                           

Food Addicts Anonymous                                                                    

Gamblers Anonymous                                                                          

Health Care                                                                             

International OCD Foundation                                             

Marijuana Anonymous                                          

Medicaid Information                                                                

Medicare Information                                                                

Narcotics Anonymous                                                                          


National Association for Children of Alcoholics                                

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers                    

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, Inc.                 

National Institute on Drug Abuse                                                

NIAAA: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism           

National Mental Health Consumers’
Self-Help Clearinghouse                                                         

Narcotics Overdose Prevention Education Task Force         

Overeaters Anonymous                                                                        

Sex Addicts Anonymous                                                       

Sexually Compulsive Anonymous                                          

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration          

US Government Information                                                              

Why Use a Professional Interventionist?
  • The professional interventionist is trained to ignite the process of change, real change, for everyone – not just the Afflicted Loved One – but for all family members and friends.

  • The professional interventionist understands the addicted mind and language of the afflicted Intervention Subject – forms a bond and connection with the I-S and, though seemingly taking the perspective of the family and friends, is really advocating for the rights and needs of the afflicted Intervention Subject.

  • The professional interventionist gives everyone hope.  The Afflicted Loved One cannot see what good, great, and wonderful things wait for him or her in sobriety and recovery. The Afflicted Loved One cannot imagine this kind of happiness and peace – they simply cannot see it or feel it.

  • The professional interventionist fights for the healthy part of the Afflicted Loved One to emerge; the professional is the ally of the Afflicted Loved One’s healthy self.

  • The professional interventionist is able to describe and suggest treatment options available for the Afflicted Loved One and for the family and friends of the Afflicted Loved One.

  • Many times, family and friends are too emotionally connected through sympathy and guilt or resentment and rage to effectively complete an intervention – their emotions are essential, but need to be challenged.

  • Often the Afflicted Loved One is so clever at deflection, denial or delusion that the family and friends cannot effectively break through the defenses of the Afflicted Loved One without the help of a neutral professional.

  • Often, other mental health issues like anxiety and depression, or personality disorders, such as “anti-social, histrionic, borderline, or narcissistic personality features can cloud or obscure the issues of addiction or substance abuse.

  • Fear and worry fuel the Afflicted Loved One defenses for seeking help or change and frequently family members and friends do not have experience in recovery themselves or experience with the treatment options offered.  As a result, the Afflicted Loved One family and friends lack credibility when describing the treatment or what will happen.

  • Guilt and shame or the dreaded “how could you?” statements often keep the Afflicted Loved One from feeling safe to come clean about his or her circumstances out of fear of being judged, criticized, or condemned by the family or friends.

  • Sometimes the Afflicted Loved One has untreated emotional trauma caused by one of the family members or friends and does not want to give in to that person and other times the I-S has a physical issue, such as a hormone imbalance, thyroid issue, or a head injury that may be the physical cause of the addicted behavior.  The professional interventionist will ask about these issues and understand what they mean.

  • The professional interventionist is usually a trained and experienced professional, who is often certified, licensed by examination, insured against malpractice, and experienced in the problems or issues to be addressed in the intervention.  He or she should have a vast experience, rapport, and demeanor which promotes hope, health, and healing of the I-S and the family and friends.

Types of Interventions

There are several types of interventions developed over a period of trial and error, a period of evidence based testing, and use by professionals.  Generally, the following are the major types of interventions:


  • Johnson (Surprise) Intervention Model

This type of intervention has been made famous by the A&E television series Intervention and is based on the belief that the Afflicted Loved One is so lost in the grip of his/her addiction that he or she is unable to understand how devastating his/her behavior has been.  Often the Johnson model is used based on the belief that the Afflicted Loved One would run away.  This belief is usually unfounded. The steps involved are as follows:

1st Family/group: finds an interventionist.

2nd Family/group: work with the interventionist to determine the best treatment option.
3rd Family/group: lovingly meet with the Afflicted Loved One and encourage him/her to accept the help or live with severe consequences.


            There are varying schools of thought on the effectiveness of the Johnson model and whether the “ambush” method is most effective.  Many people lose trust of family members because of the “surprise” aspect of the intervention and many others remain very angry at the parties responsible.   The very disruptive nature of the Johnson Model caused various professionals to question it and to try the invitational approach.


  • The ARISE® (Invitational) Intervention Model

The ARISE® Model invites the Afflicted Loved One to a family meeting which follows specific steps and represent an evidence-based approach that is highly effective. The following are the steps of the ARISE Intervention:


1st Step: A concerned family member contacts an ARISE Interventionist for advice on setting up the intervention.

2nd Step: The Afflicted Loved One is asked to come to a meeting of friends and family and is told that the meeting will take place to discuss his/her addiction problem whether or not he/she attends.

3rd Step: If the Afflicted Loved One does not enter treatment after the first meeting, the group plans another meeting.

4th Step: If the Afflicted Loved One does not enter treatment after a few meetings, then he/she will be subject to severe consequences.

The advantages of ARISE® interventions are many, including the fact that the family participates fully in the healing of the Afflicted Loved One which creates healing for everyone.  Further, the family continues to work on its own issues with the interventionist. 


  • The Systemic (family system) Intervention Model

The Systemic Intervention Model process is highly effective with wide-range of addictions, including food, gambling, sex, and other compulsive/addictive behaviors. A Family Systemic Model Intervention is completely different. The following points listed below show how a family systemic model is outlined as well as how it differs from a normal intervention.


1st Point: The Afflicted Loved One is aware of all meetings. In fact, when a meeting is set up with a trained interventionist the addict goes to the very first one.

2nd Point: During the meetings, all family members and the Afflicted Loved One openly discuss the way the addict’s behavior has impacted each one’s lives. It is not a one way conversation – it can go back in forth in a controlled manner.

3rd Point: Instead of having one big meeting for the intervention, there could be several meetings a week and the process can last months at a time.

4th Point: Both the addict and family members commit to entering some type of counseling. Most likely, the Afflicted Loved One will attend an inpatient rehab to get over the addiction. Afterward, the Afflicted Loved One will join the family therapy sessions that occur while he/she is in rehab. The family commits to therapy sessions while the addict is in rehab as well as afterward as one family unit.

Recommended Treatment Programs

There is nothing more rewarding in seeing a person come alive and find himself or herself again in treatment.  Unfortunately, the success rates for many programs are far too low.  I am constantly looking for more effective programs.  I am listing the programs below with which I have either had personal experiences with clients or have personally observed the work that the program has done.  MY ENDORSEMENT is only my opinion and reasonable minds can disagree about the quality or effectiveness of a certain program.  Further, as an independent interventionist, I receive NO COMPENSATION, NO COMMISSIONS, NO KICKBACKS, or other value from any of the programs that I recommend. 


Best Programs for Executives/Professionals

Avalon Recovery Center
Malibu, California


Breathe Life Healing Centers
New York, New York

Los Angeles, California


Seaside Palms Recovery
Palm Beach, Florida


Best Programs in Florida

Beachcomber Recovery Center
Delray Beach, Florida


Tranquil Shores Recovery Center
Madeira Beach, Florida


Lucida Recovery Center
Lantana, Florida


Best Programs for Older Adults
Hanley Center
West Palm Beach, Florida


Best Programs for Young Adults (18-35 Years Old)

Ocean Recovery
Newport Beach, California


Recovery Unplugged
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

SMART Recovery Overview

SMART Recovery supports individuals who desire to abstain or are considering abstinence from any substance or activity addiction. Our program incorporates tools based on evidence-based addiction treatments, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

SMART Recovery’s mission is to offer donation-requested, self-empowering, science-based, face-to-face and online support groups for abstaining from any substance or activity addiction. Meetings are expanding worldwide, and daily online meetings are also offered.

4-Point Program®

     SMART provides a 4-Point Program which includes the following components:

            Point 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation

            Point 2: Coping with Urges

            Point 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

            Point 4: Living a Balanced Life

The SMART Recovery Tools

A variety of tools and techniques are employed for each of the above-noted points. The program is abstinence-based and also welcomes those considering abstinence, but who are not yet committed to such a plan. This is where Point #1 (Building and Maintaining Motivation) can be helpful to individuals to determine why they might desire to choose an abstinence recovery path. These newcomers are invited to attend several SMART Recovery meetings, to gain an understanding of the program and tools, and to enhance their motivation to determine if they choose to pursue abstinence.  Program tools include the Cost/Benefit Analysis, the Change Plan Worksheet, Hierarchy of Values, ABCs of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (for both urge coping and emotional upsets); DISARM (Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness and Refusal Method); Brainstorming; and Role-playing/Rehearsing.

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