Excerpt from Heart to Heart: The Basic Mechanics of an Intervention
(Part Four)

Heart to Heart: The Honorable Approach to Motivational Intervention is primarily a cookbook for those who desire a thorough understanding of my intervention process. The book describes intervention as a tool to help the lay public, paraprofessionals, and established professionals. It is a quick read, intended to acquaint the reader to my method of intervention. It’s sort of a bird’s-eye view of the Storti Intervention process.  -Ed Storti

Contingency Plan

Another segment of the intervention process that runs parallel to the intervention itself is the creation of a contingency plan. The immediate family must have a work plan for themselves, must be open to their own changes, and must set new boundaries. That is not to say they have to disown the addict or threaten to terminate ties, but part of the reason the initial inquiry was made about an intervention is that the family has run out of options. The situation can no longer continue.

Once the intervention has been held, the secret is out -- there is no turning back. With the patient accepting help, the immediate family follows through with family treatment. A change in the whole family has already occurred. The contingency plan is a means of helping the change remain a positive one, and it requires the whole family’s commitment to involvement, which may range from continued open discussion, to reading self-help books, attendance at anonymous groups, individual/family therapy, or even specific acts of “tough love.” Just as the intervention is not a way to pin all the family trouble on one person’s addiction, the contingency plan does not leave recovery completely in the hands of the individual at the treatment center. Many issues and lots of internal, emotional work is yet to be done, and the contingency plan recognizes that work. This plan is the rest of the family’s self-contract for progress.

The participating group must stay unified in their efforts to be supportive. This means not downplaying the importance of the intervention once it is over, not referring to it in jest, and not defending it. Remember, you gave the intervention as an honorable gift—you cannot ridicule it or try to justify it later without damaging its effectiveness.

Consequences are another part of the contingency plan in that there will be corresponding reaction from the dependent to every consequence threatened in the intervention. This is commonly referred to as leverage—“go into treatment now or I’m getting a divorce.” “Check into that treatment center today, or you don’t set foot in this house again.” Consequences or leverage thrown at the addicted loved one can quickly sour an intervention. My method does not use the “Or else” tool, although some professional therapists thrive on its role in the intervention; it becomes the norm, rather than the exception. There can be a time or place for such statements, but the family very often cannot live up to what they say. They are sending mixed messages. The family’s new resolve will melt with time, and the love they truly feel for the individual will get lost again in the revolving continuance of the patient and family habits.

Another reason leverage seldom works is that addicts are often addicted to a double-edged sword—there is an excitement at the thought of doing the opposite deed and proving that you are wrong. Consequences leave a bad taste in one’s mouth because it changes the intervention into a form of punishment and ridicule, rather than a gift of the heart. Pride is the other major issue when confronting the loved one with a “you-will-or-else-“ statement. The patient feels compelled to take the “or else.” Unfortunately, this typical reaction to threatening consequences, ninety percent of professionals still maintain that leverage is a critical part of the intervention. “You have to be willing to put your marriage on the line.” “Of course, you have to accept the idea of kicking your daughter out of your house, not accepting phone calls from her, and not helping her for ‘x’ amount of time—forever, if need be.” These are very harsh and drastic measures that have no place in the Storti Model of Intervention. These are not messages from one heart to another. To state lines of separation is to create animosity.


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