How a Real Life Intervention Differs from Reality TV’s Portrayal

Viewing an intervention on a reality TV show is not the same as it is in real life. With all the reality TV shows about addiction and interventions, the perception of what a real intervention entails is often distorted.

Real Life Intervention

Reality TV Interventions are Dramatized

Reality TV shows spend a short 30 to 35 minutes of the episode showing you a very brief background on the addict, the addict’s family, and the addict’s addiction. Images portrayed of the addict’s substance abuse can be very graphic and disturbing, for maximum shock and/or entertainment value.

Then, in the last ten minutes or so of the episode, they stage an intervention and whisk the addict off for treatment. These shows often end as the addict remarks how their recovery process went with very little follow up on whether the addict stayed clean in the months and years that followed.

Another problem with reality TV show portrayal of intervention is that the participants are often led to believe they are participating in a documentary about addictions, not interventions. Then, out of nowhere, they are hit with the surprise intervention. When the addict is caught off-guard on reality TV, they can react in a number of ways. During the big reveal of the intervention, some addicts react are totally compliant to the unexpected intervention and agree to go to rehab after the first person asks. Usually, however, this is not the case.

Reality TV Drug Interventions

More often, as family and friends describe how the addict’s substance abuse has affected their own lives, the addict becomes uncomfortable and begins to display bizarre, erratic, even dangerous behaviors – all which make for a more entertaining TV show for the viewer, but it’s a distortion of reality. That’s because interventions on reality TV focus on situations that will bring in the most ratings.

Educate Yourself on How to Stage an Effective Intervention

In real life, things are often different. The goal of an intervention is for friends and family of an addict to hold a meeting and confront the addict about his or her problem. Sometimes they do this on their own and other times they might call in a professional interventional specialist for assistance.

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Staging an effective intervention has to be thought out. You need to decide when the best time is to confront the addict. You also have to be prepared the addict might object and not be as willing to go along with plans to enter a drug and alcohol rehab treatment program.

Things can go wrong even in the most expertly-planned intervention. Not all addicts are willing to go along with an intervention or agree to start addiction treatment. They may feel attacked by their friends and family. They could get upset and walk out mid-intervention, or go on the offensive and start attacking those they love by pointing out their own faults.

How to Set Expectations and Boundaries and End Enablement

Part of planning an intervention involves setting expectations and boundaries and ending enablement, regardless of whether addicts are willing to admit they have a problem or need help. Their friends and family need to let them know exactly what they can expect going forward. This could involve:

  • Letting addicts know you are aware of their problem. Up to this point, addicts could believe they were skilled at hiding their addictions from those they love. Bringing the problem to light does not necessarily mean they won’t continue to try to hide the addiction, just that you are more aware of it.
  • Informing the addict of how you will not be an enabler. Prior to the intervention, you could have been supporting the addiction by enabling the addict through various behaviors and responses. For instance, your loved one would ask for money for lunch, gas, or some other expense, and you would give it to them. Now that you are aware of the problem, you won’t be so quick to give them money to support their addiction.
  • Making the addict aware of the new “house rules.” While you cannot force your loved ones to start drug and alcohol rehab treatment, you can establish new rules to clearly define your expectations. However, you do need to be careful to not make ultimatums with the new rules. For instance, you cannot say that unless they go into rehab, they cannot be around the children. This is never effective, as addicts must admit they have a problem and accept they want help.

Keep in mind, your expectations and boundaries and what you need to do to stop being an enabler will vary. It is highly recommended to consult with a professional ahead of time to ensure your objectives are not counterproductive.

How to Choose the Right Rehab Facilities

On reality TV interventions, they often feature only a single rehab option or specific types of rehab facilities. They might mention an addict spent 90 days at an inpatient facility and as the credits roll, the addict appears remarkably “cured” of their addiction. Yet this is not how addiction works. There is no quick 90-day fix for addiction. Rather, once the addict begins his or her recovery, it is an ongoing, lifelong process.

Furthermore, in real life, there are various rehab treatment programs based on the needs of the addicts, the level of their addictions, and other such factors. There are outpatient, co-occurring, partial care, and aftercare treatment programs, as well as family therapy and counseling.

Additionally, holistic treatment combined with clinical and spiritual treatments have become more popular in recent years. These programs can be tailored to fit the exact needs of the addicts and their addictions. By developing a custom treatment program, addicts are more likely to take an active role in their recovery.

Don’t Stage an Intervention Alone – Get Expert Help

To help prepare for an intervention, there are all sorts of information, materials, and resources you can utilize, including addiction treatment and intervention support from us at BlueCrest Recovery Center. Part of your education and research processes should also include deciding whether you want to attempt the intervention on your own or with help from one of our trained professionals.

Families in Woodland Park, NJ and the surrounding areas participate in a reality TV show on addiction, or they can get the help they really need by contacting BlueCrest Recovery Center at (973) 453-5384. We offer assistance and information on how to stage an intervention, family support and counseling, and different drug and alcohol addiction treatment options tailored to each individual.

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